If you are like me and end up doing a Random next recommended video youtube spree. I.e you watch a video on youtube and then just click on the next recommended video you can come across all sorts of videos and that was the case for me yesterday. Though the videos i vegan watching was people testing a vegan diet and what i saw alot of was 1) People ate mostly salad and fruit and felt tired and hungry and had no inspiration about what to eat. Which made me realise just how much i actually can help in this area, i.e vegan nutritious food. But also about how to make healthy meals and food combining. 2) Alot of people began talking about the “lack of protein” and how they were eating so many carbs and didn’t like that.
First off, carbohydrates are not bad… Back in the days when i was a child and wasn’t personally affected by it, fat was the thing to avoid, now it is carbs that is the thing to avoid. We are constantly reminded in media that carbohydrates are bad and should be avoided and we unconsciously begin to believe it. There are so many types of carbohydrates so saying you should avoid them isn’t that simple, because if you avoid carbs you also avoid vegetables, fruit, lots of fiber rich food, grains etc and those are some of the healthiest foods for you. Cutting down on processed and sugar laden food can be a good idea, but it’s about limiting them, not cutting them out completely. Carbs are fuel and give you energy. Our brain needs the glucose from carbohydrates and helps you focus, think clearer, also our muscles store glycogen (glucose) so that you have energy when you use your muscles and/or workout. Also the fiber in carbohydrates can help you feel more full, aid in digestion and keep you from having a slow moving stomach (i.e constipation) as well as being good for your gut bacteria. Are carbohydrates essential, no they aren’t… your body can break down and turn fats and proteins into glucose in your body but you are doing yourself a huge disservice if that is the way you choose to get your glucose from and can inevitably lead to ketosis which can be life threatening not to mention muscle break down if your body starts using protein and muscle to turn into glucose for your brain and cells.
Back to the main topic, many of the people in the videos were saying that they couldn’t find any good protein sources that wasn’t also carb dense. This is something i have noticed alot of online and also from certain people who may have an unhealthy relationship with food. I can say, i was this way in the past as well i.e i wanted to eat chicken, eggs and quark because it was high protein but low carb and fat. I didn’t see beans or lentils as protein but as carb sources and i wanted my lean protein source, thinking that was what i needed to build muscle. Many think this way and is also a reason many within fitness don’t want to go vegan because they think they can’t build muscle on a vegan diet or are scared to eat more carbohydrates, unfortunately i have had many contact me wondering where to get protein on a vegan diet without eating so many carbs. My answer to that is that yes, as a vegan you will mostly likely eat more carbs compared to when your diet is rich in meat and dairy which is generally lower carb and higher protein.
Chickpeas, beans, soybeans, nuts, seeds, tofu, soy, tempeh, seitan etc are all sources of protein. Yes they also contain carbs, as a vegan you won’t find a protein source that has similar macros to that of chicken i.e high protein, low carb, but that doesn’t mean the food is bad.
Also the comparison of protein in meat v.s in beans and other vegan sources of protein. Beans and grains aren’t a complete protein source i.e dont have all the essential amino acids but considering that most people eat more than just one type of food the whole day/week you will most likely get the other essential amino acids in other foods such as in grains and they complete/compliment each other so that by the end of the day you have gotten all the amino acids you need. So yes, comparing chicken to chickpeas, the chicken will have all the essential amino acids but i am pretty sure you don’t eat just chicken the whole day or just chickpeas the whole day so you will more than likely get all the protein and amino acids you need throughout the day.
Protein as a vegan? My best suggestions are tofu, soy, seitan, beans, lentils and then there are lots of fake meats such as oumph, tzay, gardein, anamma and soy meats which have around 20g+ protein per 100g which is similar to chicken and other meats, and products such as oumph are high protein and low carb if that is what you are worried about.
You do need to eat more of vegan foods to get the same protein amount i.e 100g cooked chickpeas has about 10g protein, compared to 100g chicken. But if you eat a can of chickpeas c.a 160g you get about 15g protein which is actually quite alot considering that most people need a daily average protein intake of 50-60g (more if you are trying to build muscle or do alot of hard workouts).
It is important to remember that your body needs more than protein and carbohydrates aren’t bad for you. The one thing that may be important to keep in mind is that when you begin eating more plant based your fiber intake can increase quite alot and that may cause some stomach issues so gradually eating more plant based and increasing fiber intake is recommended so that you dont go from 0 to 100 and get alot of cramps from all the fiber!
You can build muscle on a plant based diet. You can gain weight on a plant based diet. You can lose weight on a plant based diet. You can get enough protein on a plant based diet! My advice to those who say they are scared of eating because of the higher carb content, is to eat do just that…. eat plant based and face those fears. You can’t recover or get rid of those negative food thoughts unless you face them and realise that there isn’t anything wrong with eating more beans and lentils and grains! So don’t let fear hold you back from eating more plant based, especially not if the fear is just a fear of carbs!
I have realised that i can do alot within the health and fitness area when it comes to vegan nutrition and to be able to help people eat more vegan!!!