Saturday, August 18, 2012

This Protein Hype Ain't Right.

This has been sitting in my freezer for weeks.

Yes, that chicken's organic. Cage-free. I don't even feel too bad that they're carcasses of once-living, flourishing animals.

But I just can't do meat yet.

I went mostly meatless earlier this year, and besides for the occasional Port of Subs turkey sandwich (my bonafide addiction!!), remain true to the lifestyle. It's not so I can call myself vegetarian; it just feels less toxic to my body. I feel that when I ingest animal protein (even dairy nowadays) - and I'm sorry, this is going to sound completely hippie-wierdo - I am taking in that animal's energy. Its ailments. Its diet. Its mental state. And I feel like it leaves residue of all that in my intestines.

Did you know 70-80% (depending on the report) of your immune system is in your gut

So I like to keep my intestinal walls as animal-residue-free as possible. That, and I don't buy the whole Protein is King mentality we have going on in this country, which many reports attribute to successful lobbying of the meat, egg and dairy industries over the past century.

And as I do MORE research, it looks like too much protein can be harmfulT. Colin Campbell, a Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University and the senior science adviser to the American Institute for Cancer Research, says there is a “strong correlation between dietary protein intake and cancer of the breast, prostate, pancreas and colon.”

Even the Center for Disease Control admits we may be eating more protein than we need. Instead of this new idea, propagated in fitness magazine after fitness magazine, that we need one gram of protein per pound we weigh, each day...the CDC recommends 46 grams a day for women, and 56 grams for men.

But then there's my dilemma: Trying to build muscle. I really do believe my trainer when he tells me I need to get more protein in my diet in order to build up some solid, fat-burning muscle. (A report actually states that athletic humans need more protein because weight training breaks down muscle protein.) That said, here's a protein calculator that makes more sense to me (originally from this article):

1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
2. Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.
Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary (i.e., 0.8). Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.

So, I did 147lbs divided by 1.8 = 81g of protein. Doable, but still a lot. So it's bring on the veggie protein! Luckily, I found a few GREAT ones that are super low-fat, high protein, and TASTE GOOD!
Tofu Shirataki Noodels, $3ish; Whole Foods
At 20 cals per big-ace serving, these high-protein noodles have the texture of their carb-y cousin but without the guilt. I add these to a veggie stir-fry with some low-sodium soy. The noodles are a bit wet to use in pastas (unless I'm doing it wrong), but this stir-fry is so yummy, you won't need to change up the recipe!

LightLife Smart Dogs, price varies; Most grocery stores.
At 45 calories per dog, you could even afford a whole-wheat bun. But I like to save up my calories, so try a Romaine lettuce bun with organic ketchup and horseradish mustard. SO GOOD!

I like that I can get my vitamins AND PROBIOTICS! from this low-cal, VEGGIE-SOURCED protein shake. And if I'm craving something sweet, the subtle chocolate taste helps out a ton! 

I have plenty more alt-protein ideas where these came from, so stick around for part deux of this topic! Share your own favorite products/recipes in the comments!

**DISCLAIMER: There is a ton of conflicting info out there about protein intake. I chose to stick with this perspective, but not saying it's the one right way!

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