There is a lot of hype around getting enough protein, with much attention focused on rounding out a meal with animal products (or centering a meal them). Good news! With the range and quantity of foods available to us in North America, it’s nearly impossible to be protein-deficient, and there are many excellent plant-based sources to consider if you're venturing away from eating meat and dairy. For long-term health, it’s most important to consider is the quality of the proteins we’re taking in (and to ensure we’re not consuming too much! The body can only process so much protein at a time. Extra calories of protein aren’t turned into new, rippling muscle: they’re converted to fat for storage, which increases risk for heart disease and diabetes.)
Makes sense, then, that symptoms of too much protein include low energy, constipation, dehydration, weight gain, calcium loss, tight or stiff joints, and cravings for sweets, among others.
Symptoms of not getting enough protein include feelings of being ungrounded or jittery, fatigue, weight loss, weakness, anemia, changes to hair colour and texture, and sweet cravings. Athletes, pregnant women, and people recovering from surgery or illness are most likely to need t o amp up their protein consumption.
Assess how you’re feeling and what your body is telling you: chances are, it’s giving you some strong indicators about your protein consumption.
Day Two - Protein Suggestion
Grains! Those complex carbs have more to offer than just energy and fiber! Whole grains contain a surprising amount of protein and make a great addition to a plant-based diet – the trick is to make sure they’re whole varieties. Avoid high-glycemic empty calories in white bread and white rice; instead, try oats, brown rice, or millet for a protein boost this week (or seitan if you can tolerate gluten). Brown rice contains 5 grams of protein per cup; seitan has a whopping 31 grams per 3 ounces.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post: How to calculate how much protein you need in a day.