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Let's Talk Protein Deficiency: Myths, Facts and Everything in Between
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Let's Talk Protein Deficiency: Myths, Facts and Everything in Between

Being new to veganism can be hard at first, especially when it comes to collecting information about the proper protein intake. Not much time will pass before you get showered with cringe worthy questions about where you get your protein. There are a lot of misconceptions today circling the masses about veganism, protein deficiency, and risks of living that lifestyle – which are complete nonsense. They are mostly rooted in this firm belief that the only “real” source of protein comes from meat which is far from the truth. We are going to talk about everything you need to know about protein in order to break the stereotypes and educate non-vegan people that veganism isn’t dangerous like it's cracked up to be.

Protein 101

Protein is made of small compounds called amino acids. It is also a macronutrient, along with fats and carbohydrates, which provide calories, or energy. When protein is broken down in the body, it helps to fuel muscle mass, which helps metabolism and the immune system to stay strong.

Most people know that muscles require lots of protein, but fewer know that protein is necessary to all organs for general maintenance. Protein is also a form of energy required for making of new cells and getting rid of old ones.

The safest level of protein intake can be determined by your weight, which is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, while athletes and active physical workers need up to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight. The average, however, comes between 1 and 1.2 grams.

The truth is that people commonly eat more animal protein than they can process. Even vegetarians who consume eggs and dairy products often consume more protein than they need.

Excessive animal protein intake can be dangerous to our bodies. The liver’s ability to convert nitrogen into urea is enhanced and blood becomes acidic, which can cause people to lose muscle mass, become dehydrated and lose bone calcium.

The most important thing is to take care of your protein intake, but it doesn’t matter whether it comes from -meat and dairy products or plants.

Protein Sources 

Part of the protein group are all foods made from red and white meat, fish and seafood, beans and peas, eggs, soy, hemp, nuts, whey, and seeds – so it’s not like meat needs to be the main source of it.

A vegan diet can provide more than enough protein for the body – all types of beans and legumes, adzuki and mung beans and lentils. Nuts and seeds like almonds, chia, and hemp are rich in protein too. Unprocessed grains like oats, buckwheat, amaranth, or quinoa can be a great addition to your diet.

Sprouted nuts, legumes, and grains are a great way to make amino acids more absorbable once eaten.

As for protein-rich vegetables, stick to spinach, asparagus, corn, artichokes, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms.

There are also many benefits to consuming vegan complete protein powder since it offers much more than simply protein. These are recommended especially to hard-training athletes who need to make sure to get their required protein intake for the day.

Why the Hate Towards Non-traditional Protein Sources?

People eat an incredible amount of protein daily, even unhealthy amounts, mainly because they like fat. Most animal-based food’s calories come from fat – and it’s somehow in human’s nature since forever ago to eat as much fatty food as possible to avoid starvation.

You can’t compare protein intake in animals and humans either because animals usually need a lot more protein than people because of their fast-growing nature. Since human beings grow so slowly, they really don’t need a high-protein diet. This fact is reflected in the relatively low protein content of human breast milk. By having an intake of protein that's higher than your body needs, it will just get burnt for energy. Ordinary unrefined energy sources – such as rice or potatoes - can be the basis of protein intake and all the human body needs.

It’s almost impossible to have a protein deficiency. As long as people eat a reasonable selection of unrefined plant foods, mind the calorie intake, the protein takes care of itself. You’d have to have a really bizarre diet in order to have a protein deficiency – something along the lines of only eating apples, extracted sugars and fats, or in more extreme cases, alcohol. So, in short, unless you’re starving yourself, you won’t face a protein deficiency, ever.

Every plant food that provides protein contains all of the essential amino acids that humans need. Although plant foods individually have lower percentages of some amino acids, a healthy vegan diet compensates for that. The body itself maintains its own temporary storage of amino acids. Protein building blocks are produced by different amino acids – they come from different foods and work together, so it’s important to keep your vegan diet diverse.

Conventional sources of protein have to be from organic, natural, grass-fed sources, and that’s what many people turn a blind eye to. If it’s loaded with hormones, antibiotics, steroids, and other chemicals, how can it be beneficial for your health?

Last but not least, there is a myth that vegans can’t be active because of their protein-deficient diet, since they lack energy, when in fact, many athletes today have started a vegan lifestyle that has turned their life around for the better.

Final thoughts Forget about the media and “concerned” people that warn vegans they’re going on the wrong lifestyle path. There are many benefits to becoming a vegan, besides taking a moral standpoint: Healthy vegan diets can provide you with vitamins C, E, B1, folic acid, magnesium, and iron. A vegan diet is also low in cholesterol and saturated fats, so it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, obesity, and diabetes, too. Therefore, if you were thinking of going vegan, go for it, but don’t start anything misinformed. Learn about veganism through resources available to you through the web.

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