21-Day Vegan Kickstart

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Forums: September 2012 Kickstart Forum: Protein question
Created on: 09/18/12 09:30 AM Views: 977 Replies: 4
Protein question
Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 9:30 AM

A friend is living with us right now. She's trying to lose weight (significant amount) and she's started weight training in addition to cardio (swimming, walking). She's concerned that she's not getting enough protein based on inputting the info on what she's eating into her SparkPeople calculator.

I just did a rough calculation on what I ate yesterday and I'm even coming in "low" based on the standard calculation ((weight in lbs/2.2)x.Cool

Yesterday was almost typical: cereal with almond milk for breakfast, black bean chili for lunch, two apples for snacks (morning and afternoon), whole grain pasta with tomato sauce and bell peppers for dinner (almost typical because we often add a bean or legume to pasta dishes). I come out with somewhere in the 30s for grams of protein but the calculation above would indicate I need closer to double that.

So, where am I off? Typically, two meals per day have beans, legumes, lentils, quinoa (and yesterday was only one) but even that would only put me in the mid-40s to maybe 50 grams. Friend is significantly heavier plus is doing weight training (more protein needed to build muscle?).

Input welcome
--DebR

RE: Protein question
Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Remember that the 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is a pretty high estimate for what we need (not an average of what we need but a high estimate to cover about 98% of Americans' needs). So if you are around that amount, you are more than likely just fine. Another thing to consider is whether or not the calculation is correct - double check the amount you are entering. We tend to underestimate the amount of food we eat.

You could also look at your protein consumption as a percentage of calories and see what that equals. Doing it this way takes care of any potential underestimations of food amounts consumed.

What would that percentage equal?

Susan Levin, MS, RD
PCRM Director of Nutrition Education

RE: Protein question
Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Went back and checked my calculations, realized I had a cup of hot cocoa (blood sugar dropping, that's the fastest way for me here at work to get it back up again) which has calories but little protein. Also, had a sweet snack in the evening that was mostly fat and sugar and whole wheat flour, minimal protein (but a little from whole grain). Adding all that in, rough estimate is 1500 calories, about 130 from protein, so that's a bit under 10%. So, still a little low (ranges I've seen run 10%-35% of calories from protein). Those are all rough estimates from memory and based on what I ate, not her intake (don't know what she ate aside from dinner). She tends to be one of those who skip breakfast, grab lunch whatever's quick, and then wonders why she's always hungry and starts eating after dinner (some nights she's eaten a nice dinner - like quinoa, chickpeas and kale - then headed out for fast food two hours later!)
--DebR

RE: Protein question
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 10:21 AM

As with many people, I had difficulty believing I could get enough protein on a vegan diet without really working at it. I had trouble just focusing on getting enough calories from whole food meals based on beans and grains as recommended in the books I was reading. I ran across the World Health Organization report on protein, and by the time I finished skimming their findings and recommendations based on worldwide studies including very impoverished groups of people, I was convinced. Protein is really not an issue with a balanced vegan diet based on whole foods! Though a bit more might be required if exercising heavily, most of us can just relax.

RE: Protein question
Posted Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 8:30 AM

lindaglcpa wrote:

As with many people, I had difficulty believing I could get enough protein on a vegan diet without really working at it. I had trouble just focusing on getting enough calories from whole food meals based on beans and grains as recommended in the books I was reading. I ran across the World Health Organization report on protein, and by the time I finished skimming their findings and recommendations based on worldwide studies including very impoverished groups of people, I was convinced. Protein is really not an issue with a balanced vegan diet based on whole foods! Though a bit more might be required if exercising heavily, most of us can just relax.

Linda, yeah, this is something I know in my head after these several kickstarts and all but every once in a while there's a gut-check - particularly with a rapidly growing 14 yr old son in the mix. I figure if he is growing that rapidly (he's taller than I am now!), he's not missing nutrients. Then again, though, he's also still somewhat omnivorous - mostly veg (loves chard, quinoa, chickpeas, etc), occasional cheese, and very rarely (maybe half a dozen times per year) he'll have fish or poultry.
--DebR


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