It’s tough to beat meat and eggs when it comes to protein. They provide crucial essential amino acids, which is what you need in your diet.
But what about those who don’t eat meat? You still need your protein. What’s the best (or perhaps the second best) way to get it?
Some folks believe that plant-based protein is your number one alternative. Or perhaps your number one choice regardless, if you’re a vegan or vegetarian.
Some good sources for that are soy, peas, nuts, hemp and brown rice. Plus chia seeds, and pumpkins seeds. But there are many others.
Peas Provide a Lift
A recent study was conducted comparing two groups of weightlifters. One focused on whey protein, while the other stuck with pea protein.
After eight weeks, here’s what they determined. “Whey and pea proteins promote similar strength, performance, body composition and muscular adaptations.”
Many who use protein supplements believe powders containing a variety of veggies and grains are superior to those containing only one.
They say the result is a more well-rounded, high-quantity amino acid profile. But one should look for third-party endorsement with any supplement.
Plant Protein Aids Longevity
A different study involved more than 70,000 middle-aged Japanese men and women. It was determined that those who consumed the most plant proteins lived longer lives.
The study adjusted for a number of factors. Including sex, age, smoking and body mass index. As well as physical activity, fat intake, and other health and behavioral characteristics.
Plant protein is abundant in a variety of foods. Such as broccoli, spinach, soy beans, chickpeas, and legumes such as lentils.
Authors writing about the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association wrote this. “Our study suggests that plant protein may provide beneficial health effects.”
Doctors Weigh in on Plant Protein Advantages
Dr. Frank Hu is chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It’s based in Boston, Massachusetts.
He commented this on the study: “When individuals eat more plant protein foods such as nuts, soy and lentils, there is a significant improvement in cardiovascular risk factors.
“It is worth noting that these plant foods contain not just protein. But also other beneficial nutrients. Such as healthy fats, anti-oxidant vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.”
Dr. Rachel Scherr is an assistant researcher and director of the Center for Nutrition in Schools. It’s located at the University of California-Davis.
Here’s what she says. “There are other health benefits besides just the protein that we find in complete plant protein. Such as fiber and polyunsaturated fats.”
What is Too Much Meat?
The average woman needs approximately 46 grams of protein per day. The average man requires 56 grams. That’s according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
It is an important building block of everything from bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and to even your brain and memory.
Many of us get the majority of our protein from animal sources. Including beef, chicken, fish and dairy.
But what about those studies saying some Americans eat too much meat? According to the American Heart Association, we eat more meat than what they say our yearly consumption should be.
That might be accurate. Then again, perhaps some Americans don’t eat enough meat. And therefore don’t get enough protein in their diets.
Meat Should Be Lean and Unprocessed
A new study conducted at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana says moderation is the watchword.
The study revealed that lean, unprocessed cuts of red meat can actually aid in weight loss. And in the prevention of some health problems.
The key, according to the study, is to incorporate that meat into a diet based on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
That 10-week study involved Americans ages 30 to 69 who were overweight or obese.
Meat Eaters Lose More Weight
The Mediterranean diet was mostly plant-based. With most fats coming from olive oil.
But it also included low-fat cuts of beef and pork tenderloin. Plus white meat chicken and turkey with less than 10 grams of fat.
One group ate one-half pound of red meat each week. The other group consumed one pound per week.
Both groups experienced lowered risk for serious health problems. And here’s the most interesting part. The group that ate more red meat lost more than one pound per person than the group eating less meat.
Balance Is the Goal
This is good news for the 88 percent of Americans who do eat meat. Regardless of the number on their scale.
Wayne Campbell is a researcher. He told this to Newsweek magazine.
“When people become mindful of types and quantities of food they consume, no matter if it’s red meats or other types of foods, the more likely they are to be successful with adopting healthier eating patterns.”
In other words, getting plant-based protein in your diet is a good thing. But it’s certainly not necessary to eliminate meat. Choosing lean cuts free of added fat and preservatives is the way to go.