Doctors often warn vegans and vegetarians about the importance of getting enough protein, but having a good protein intake isn't as simple as eating a steak every now and then. The truth is that even the most avid meat eater can have too little protein in their diet, while some vegetable lovers may have too much! There are pros and cons to a diet that's high in vegetable protein as well as one that's high in animal protein, so here's what you need to know about both of these lifestyles.
Most muscles and organs are made up of proteins, as protein is responsible for nearly all of the processes that occur in the body. The body doesn't store protein, which is why it's so important to ensure that you're getting enough in your diet each day.
According to Mother Nature Network, protein is made up of amino acids, which our bodies break down to form new proteins. From there, protein allows us to build cell and muscle tissue in our bodies. It also helps with tissue repair in the event of an injury, keeps you feeling energized and contributes to healthy hair, skin and nails. The key difference between animal and vegetable protein is in their amino acid profiles and the rate at which our bodies can absorb amino acids and put them to use.
Because animal protein is more similar to protein found in the human body, it is used up more rapidly than those found in plants. Protein that comes from animals is considered to be more complete, because it contains all of the essential amino acids that the body needs to function effectively.
But despite these proteins' completeness and compatibility with the human body, there are risks associated with animal proteins. They can be high in cholesterol and fat – especially saturated fat – and a healthy diet shouldn't contain too much of either. Many animal proteins are also high in sodium.
Veggies are great because they're low in calories and fat, and packed with vitamins and minerals - but most don't contain nearly as much protein per serving as meats do. In addition, the proteins that they do contain are less complete than those found in animal meat, meaning that they don't contain all of the various amino acids that the body requires.
However, there are vegetable products that are high in protein and can act as a great substitute for meat in most vegan and vegetarian diets. FitDay reported that tofu and other soy-based products actually do contain all the essential amino acids, and can therefore be a protein-packed alternative to red meats. Additionally, lentils and other legumes are a well-rounded snack that's high in protein, iron and fiber. Beans and peas are both versatile vegetables that are full of protein and vitamins like folate and zinc that aid in cell growth. Artichokes are another veggie that's full of protein and fiber and low in calories, making them a great choice for those who don't get a lot of animal protein on a daily basis.
Finding a balance
Vegetarians and vegans need to ensure that they're getting a variety of different vegetable proteins in their diet, including nuts, legumes and grains but also fruits and vegetables. This ensures that your body is getting all of the various amino acids it needs to perform at its peak.
For meat eaters, it's important to strike a balance between animal and vegetable protein. It's a good idea to limit your intake of red meat, as it's higher in cholesterol and fat, and instead opt for fish or poultry. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike should also consider a protein meal replacement like VeganSmart All-in-One Nutritional Shake or a healthy protein-rich snack like pea protein powder to ensure that they're getting enough.
Going vegan can be an excellent choice because it makes you more conscious about the things you're eating. Here are some of the biggest health benefits of choosing to eat a vegan diet:
- A healthy vegan diet is typically rich in whole grains and legumes. These foods have a low glycemic index and are high in fiber, meaning they are digested slowly and thus keep blood sugar steady. This can help reduce cholesterol and, in turn, improve one's heart health.
- Vegans do not eat red meat (or any meat, of course), which the World Cancer Research Fund announced in a 2007 report is good for colon health.
- Vegans often have – but not always – less processed foods in their diets. Several studies have affirmed the unhealthy attributes of processed foods.
- Adherents to a vegan diet avoid all animal products, including meat, eggs, dairy and gelatin-based products. Thus, they are likely to eat less saturated fats and are more likely to have a lower cholesterol, meaning a vegan diet can boost your heart health and potentially help with weight issues.
- Vegan diets are often very high in fiber – beans, lentils, whole grains and various vegetables all pack in plenty of fiber, which is good for the body's digestive system.
Aside from the various health benefits that vegans acquire from their diets, veganism also has several more benefits for individuals and society as a whole:
- You'll save money, as grains, beans, soy and similar foods are fairly inexpensive compared to animal proteins.
- You'll do your part to reduce pollution and environmental deterioration because factory farms take more energy and resources to produce animal meats and runoff can pollute local water sources.
- You'll be contributing to animal wellbeing.
While there are clearly several individual and societal benefits to eating a vegan diet, making this change can require a lot of work at first. It takes time to plan meals that meet all of our bodies' important nutritional requirements, and restricting your food sources means you'll have to get creative. Many vegans choose to supplement their diets with a nutritional shake to make sure they are getting adequate amounts of calcium, iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D and Omega-3s, nutrients that are available in a vegan diet but not always in large enough amounts to meet the bodies' needs.
When talking about what a vegan can eat (answer: a lot of things), it's probably better to first talk about what they can't – or choose not to – eat. Without getting into the various moral or health reasons that people choose to eat vegan, here's some basic information on what vegans do and do not eat to help you if you're debating whether to meatless or not:
What vegans avoid
Basically, vegans do not eat any animal products, including products derived from animals. Most obviously, this means that vegans avoid eating beef, chicken, pork, fish and everything in between, as well as dairy products and eggs. However, many other foods contain animal products, though we often don't realize it. Here are some other items that people who are vegan often attempt to avoid and why:
- Honey: Bees are living things and they make it.
- White sugar: PETA asserts that it is made with bone char.
- Marshmallows and gummy bears: These sweets are made with gelatin that is derived from animals.
- Breads and baked goods made with butter, eggs, white sugar or whey – a dairy product.
- Beer: Believe it or not, some beers are filtered using egg whites, seashells or gelatin from fish bladders.
- Salad dressing: Many dressings use lecithin, a product from animals, to keep vinegar and oil from separating in the dressing.
- Additionally, many vegans avoid other animal products, including leather, wool, cosmetics and certain types of soap.
Though vegan diets are often low in cholesterol and fat and high in nutrients, it's good to keep in mind that not all certified vegan products, like certain junk foods, are healthy for you. Here is an idea of what vegans often eat to get important nutrients:
- Protein: lentils, peas, chickpeas, soy milk, almond milk, nuts and nut butter, whole grains, tofu
- Calcium: dark green vegetables, soy milk and orange juice fortified with calcium, tofu made with calcium sulfate
- Iron: dark green leafy vegetables, black and kidney beans, bulghur wheat, lentils, beet greens, black-eyed peas
- Vitamin B12: nutritional yeast
- Zinc: legumes, nuts and grains
- Vitamin D: fortified rice milk and soy milk
Though vegans are able to find some good sources for important nutrients, it takes a lot of time and effort to plan a well-rounded meal. Many vegans make sure they get enough B12 and calcium – two important ingredients that are often lacking in their diet – by finding a supplementary method like the VeganSmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake, which is gluten, dairy and soy-free and provides 20 grams of non-GMO protein per serving.
If you find that your diet and exercise plan isn't having the effects you were hoping for, it could be because you're implementing a strategy that isn't best suited for your body type. There are three main types of bodies – ectomorph, endomorph and mesomorph – and knowing which one you have can ensure that you develop a fitness regime that best suits your individual needs.
The ectomorph body is defined by its delicate bone structure and features such as skinny limbs, a flat chest and buttocks and narrow shoulders. According to Daily Fitness, ectomorphs have a high metabolism and lots of lean muscle, and because their bodies burn calories so quickly, they often find that it's difficult to gain weight.
If you have an ectomorph frame, you may find that you get full quickly or don't have a big appetite. High density foods with plenty of fat – including avocados, almonds and peanut butter – can help you put on pounds. If you get full quickly, you should try eating several small meals a day rather than three large ones. Ectomorphs can also try a calorie-packed snack like Naturade Weight Gain Mix. When training, ectomorphs should use heavier weights and do only 5-10 repetitions. Take longer rests in between sets, and do cardio exercise less frequently than weight training.
Endomorph bodies are essentially the opposite of the ectomorph. This body type is large, round and soft, with a low metabolism and muscles that are less defined. Endomorphs often fatigue easily, and may have a very high appetite. If you're an endomorph, you probably find that it's easy to gain weight and difficult to lose it.
It's important for endomorphs to drink plenty of water to stay full and hydrated, and in addition, they should eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Non-processed foods and whole grains are also important, though an endomorph diet should only include between 30 and 40 percent carbohydrates. When exercising, people with this body type should do as much cardio as possible. Endomorphs should use weights that are slightly lighter and do 15 or more reps during a set, taking a 30- or 45-second break in between sets. Compound lifts like squats are great for endomorphs, as they burn more calories and increase strength quickly
According to Muscle and Strength, mesomorph bodies are typically those that are "naturally athletic," with a large bone structure and defined muscles. Mesomorphs are strong and gain muscle quickly, and they generally have broad shoulders and a narrow waist.
A mesomorph diet can be high in calories as long as you are getting enough exercise, as this body type gains fat more quickly than ectomorphs. Carbohydrates should make up between 40 and 60 percent of food intake for mesomorphs, and you should consider breaking your food intake into five or six medium-sized meals over the course of the day. Mesomorphs should have a fitness routine that combines cardio and weight training, doing enough cardio to stay lean and doing eight to 12 reps during weight training. If you're a mesomorph, you'll likely see results from your fitness regime very quickly.
You may think that you have your fitness routine down to a science, but gym-goers of all experience levels and body types can probably do more to make the most out of every minute spent at the gym. If you're thinking about updating your workout, try one – or all – of these seven tips!
1. Start your routine with something you like
If you find that your workouts are getting a little stale, try beginning your fitness routine with the exercise you enjoy the most. This will help you get your heart rate pumping while also getting you psyched up for the workout ahead.
2. Eat before you go
While you don't want to wolf down a steak before hitting the treadmill, eating a small meal or light snack before the gym can help boost your metabolism and keep you from fading during your routine. Try an antioxidant-rich snack like blueberries, a yogurt packed with probiotics or a shake made with a total soy meal replacement.
3. Use your upper body during cardio
Using a treadmill or stationary bike to improve heart and lung endurance is a great way to stay fit, but chances are you're ignoring your upper body during these workouts. Using a full-body elliptical machine that works on arms as well as legs can help you burn more calories while improving your overall stamina.
4. Get a little competitive
Notice someone on the treadmill near you who's really giving it their all? Use their motivation to work a little harder! Friendly competition can give you the boost you need to spend a few extra minutes on the machine or convince you to push yourself to run just a little faster. However, be sure that you don't do anything that's outside of your limits.
5. Try eccentric exercises
It's tempting to focus solely on improving muscles like your abs, but many abdominal workouts shorten and "crunch" those muscles. Mixing in movements that lengthen your spine and strengthen back muscles can help you achieve all-over body fitness.
6. Take advantage of unilateral training
Most of the time, when you're using a leg press or extension machine you're using both of your legs at the same time. While there's nothing wrong with that, most of us tend to favor one leg over the other, even when using both at once. Try doing a full set with your weaker leg – for most people, this is their left – and then doing a full set with your stronger leg. You'll immediately notice that one side completes the exercise with greater ease. Doing this can also help improve balance!
7. Invest in a personal trainer
Maybe you haven't achieved the arm tone you wanted, or maybe your runs are still leaving you feeling exhausted after five minutes. If it seems like your workout isn't having the effects you were hoping for, you may want to consider hiring a personal trainer who can help you reach your fitness goals. Sound too expensive? Try splitting a session with a friend or looking into group fitness programs.
I’ve made lots of errors in my training and fitness in the past 2 years and along the way I’ve learned the keys to my personal fitness success. With that being said, the journey never ends and there is always something new to learn and improve. Although I am presenting the keys to you, keep in mind that your personal journey and success depends on your ability to listen to your body, adapt based on your own situation, and create realistic short term and long term goals.
Throughout your fitness journey you have to ingrain these words into your brain: Consistency – Frequency – Intensity
The human body is elegant and it can adapt and perform based on what habits and conditions its put under and/or through. To create change in your body you need to be consistent with training effort and diet, frequent with your training, and properly select intensity levels based on your health, your goals, races, and lifestyle. You must keep the body moving, period. Even if it’s only 20 mins per day you can make big changes if you do it all the time and really stay dedicated to the long term goal, a healthy life.
The answer to health and fitness is, and always has been simple… Keep moving, eat clean, drink water, sit as little as possible, get plenty of sleep, and try new things that involve moving. I love triathlon because it’s swimming, cycling, and running. I love all of these things, I always have something to improve on and learn, and it keeps me mentally and physically stimulated and regulated.
If you are looking for a sign, a moment of clarity, or something to help you get moving then take this article as the final push. We were born to move and our bodies can do so much more than we give them credit for. Begin your own health and fitness journey today and start a new path.
And remember, never, ever, ever give up and always be relentless!!!
I’m Dustin, and this is my son Boston… First, I’m a dad before anything else, after that I’m a 31 year old vegan expatriate Hoosier living right outside of New Orleans, LA.
On June 12th, 2011 I had a bit of a wake up call and began my road to the ironman 140.6 mile endurance event and after that I’ve got some big plans, so it won’t end there… This is my outlet to vent, rant, promote, and let everyone know what’s up.
The #NaturadeSmoothie Contest is under way. So far the feedback has been great! We have had a bunch of mouth-watering recipes that have sent us back to our blender over and over again. To help you get into the mix here are a few of our favorites:
- Blend 1 banana
- 1 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon each honey and lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup ice
- 6 oz raspberries
- 9 oz strawberries
- 100gms acai frozen bar or 4oz blueberries
- 1-2 bananas
- 1 cup almond milk
- 4-6 frozen coffee cubes
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- splash of flavored coffee creamer (sugar free)
- 1-2 tsp. coco powder
- 1-2 scoops pea protein vanilla
- 1 scoop lite whip cream
Blend together in a blender until all mix and enjoy!
Protein is the building block of all the tissue in the body and may help to promote the growth of muscle. The right amount of protein may help curb hunger and can help you reach your fitness goals and get to the body weight you desire. However, there are more ways to consume protein than just through lean meats. Here are a few other ways to up your protein intake and get you on your way to better overall health:
Incorporating a protein powder into your diet is one of the best ways to increase the amount of protein your body is getting each day. One way of doing this is by making yourself a protein meal replacement. Naturade Total Soy is a meal replacement powder, available in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavors, that boasts an amazing taste and contains dietary fiber and protein. According to the Food & Drug Administration, 25 grams of soy protein daily added to a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. This powder is available in a tasty shake and provides an excellent source of protein.
Another easy way to amp up your protein intake is through Naturade Pea Protein Powder. This plant-based protein is derived from yellow peas and provides you with nine essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins and help to support our bones, muscles and connective tissues.
One way to start your morning off with a boost of protein is by eating eggs. This is a food that is so versatile and so easy to fit into your diet. You could use eggs as a main dish, make egg-based casseroles, egg salad sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, etc. You could even make desserts made with eggs like custard, rice pudding, cream puffs and some cakes.
Nonfat cottage cheese
Nonfat cottage cheese not only has protein, it has bone-building calcium as well. This protein-packed food pairs great with fruit for added antioxidants and can be cooked into scrambled eggs, casseroles or pasta for a creamier texture.
Milk and soy milk
We all know that milk helps to build strong bones and its protein helps to rebuild muscles. Fit Day suggested drinking a glass of milk after exercise to replenish your muscles and help them to recover after a tough workout. You could also opt to pair your milk with dinner. If you find this hard to fit into your diet, try making soups and oatmeal with milk instead of water for a sneaky way to fit in some protein.
When it comes to getting in shape and improving your overall fitness, just finding the time and motivation to get yourself to the gym can be half the battle. Unfortunately, once you're at the gym there are several common mistakes that can derail even the most dedicated fitness fans during their workouts. Watch out for these 10 errors that can hinder your efforts.
1. Socializing too much
Having a buddy can be a great way to make sure you get to the gym regularly. However, working out with a friend can also be a distraction. It's fine to socialize, but try to make sure that your trips to the gym actually involve some focus on fitness!
2. Lifting weights that are too heavy
Don't head right for the heaviest dumbbells in the gym. Lifting weights that are too heavy for you can lead to muscle strains, so don't feel like you have to show off. In many cases, studies have shown that lighter weights – used effectively – can have just as much of an impact as heavy ones.
3. Lifting weights that are too light
On the other hand, lifting weights that aren't causing you to exert yourself at all won't help. Fitness experts suggest choosing a weight that you can lift 30 times during your first set, but can lift only 15 times during your second.
4. Not mixing up your routine
If you're getting on the treadmill regularly, that's great! But fitness experts recommend switching up your workout to promote full-body fitness, rather than focusing on just one area.
5. Exclusively using the machines
Sure, your gym may be full of fun equipment that you're eager to try. But many of these machines focus on one particular muscle group, meaning that your time could be better spent elsewhere. Lots of free weight exercises require that you use your whole body, so they can help you burn more calories and strengthen more muscles in less time.
6. Ignoring your core
According to experts, the body's core is where all human movement originates. Therefore, a strong core can help you get fit much faster. It's a great idea to use ab machines and do sit-ups, but it can also be beneficial to keep your core strengthened during other workouts, like the bench press and leg press.
7. Not understanding the equipment
If you're new to the gym and have questions about a certain machine, just ask! Using a piece of equipment incorrectly is ineffective and won't help you get in shape any faster, and you want to ensure that you get the most out of every minute of your workout.
8. Inconsistent workout schedule
This is a common and easily-avoided mistake. Instead of going to the gym four days in a row and then skipping your workouts for the next two weeks, try to hit the gym with relative consistency. This helps you get into a routine and can promote a speedy metabolism.
9. Setting unrealistic expectations
Improving your fitness is all about hard work and perseverance. While it's common to yearn for instant results, it's important to remember that healthy living is an ongoing process. Don't stop hitting the gym because you didn't drop 10 pounds in one week – continue working hard and you'll start to see results!
10. Not changing your diet
Even if you're going to the gym regularly and avoiding these common workout mistakes, exercise alone often isn't enough to help you lose weight. If you've been sticking to your routine like a pro, you can consider adding a weight loss supplement or trying a protein meal replacement to kick your metabolism into gear and help you get the body you want.
There are a wide variety of ways to shed pounds and feel healthier. However, some methods are no-brainers when it comes to improving your health and vitality. While working out regularly is important, maintaining a balanced diet is just as vital. Some think that skipping daily meals will help them lose their unwanted weight, but this actually slows down the metabolism. What does do the trick, however, are meal replacements. More specifically, smoothies! That’s right, this delicious and refreshing drink actually has a number of health benefits.
Meal replacements can not only help you slim down in no time, they can also help reduce your cholesterol levels! And don’t worry, just because they’re healthy doesn’t mean they don’t taste good. They’re filling and delicious! Starting off your day with one of these can work to boost your metabolism without packing on unwanted calories of typical meals like fast food and frozen options filled with preservatives. Here are a few smoothie ideas you can use to replace one meal a day and get on your to that goal weight:
Ready for the best news you’ll hear today? You can actually have chocolate in your diet and still lose weight. By replacing one of your daily meals with a chocolate-soy smoothie, you get that chocolate taste without all of the added sugar. The soy protein works to lower your cholesterol as well. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology, soy protein works to lower total cholesterol and non-HDL cholesterol significantly more than milk. So go ahead and skip that sugary donut and reach for a chocolate smoothie instead. Your body will thank you!
If you’re more of a fruit fan, opt for a delicious strawberry taste that will please your taste buds and the scale. By replacing meals with this low-calorie smoothie, you may lose weight, decrease your cholesterol and improve overall heart health. To enhance the flavor even further, try adding some fresh fruit to the top.
A smoothie that incorporates natural vanilla will help you get on your way to slimming your waist. Instead of a calorie-packed meal, a replacement smoothie provides balanced nutrition and will help you maintain a healthy diet. Many wonder if meal replacements like these actually keep you full - the answer is yes. With a healthy level of dietary fiber, smoothies help curb your hunger so you don’t have to overindulge later on. When mealtime comes around, you’ll be craving this sweet and refreshing alternative.
A few smoothie tips
Any flavor you choose is sure to be delicious, but there are a few things you can do to enhance this delicious meal replacement. If you especially love fruit in your morning smoothie, Lunchbox.com suggested adding some on top. It really enhances the flavor.
If you’re always on the go, consider making a number servings at night so that you can have a few smoothies ready to go whenever you may need them. This makes it even easier to shed the pounds, even with a busy schedule.