Am I getting enough protein? And what about vegan protein supplements? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 08-09-2012, 07:14 PM
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Here is a tally of my protein intake from yesterday, a typical day:

  • Rice – 5
  • Tomato and cucumber salad – 2.2
  • Potato – 3
  • Carrots – 0.6
  • Mushrooms – 3.1
  • Eggplant – 1.0
  • Salsa – 2.8
  • Non-fat 80 g Danone yogurt – 2.4 (*1)
  • Tofu (200 gm package) – 13.0
  • Another salad – 2.2
  • Pumpkin slices – 3.0
  • Sweet potato – 6.0

(*1) I'm on the Ornish Spectrum "heart reversal diet" and this is one minor exception from Caldwell Essyltyn's diet and veganism. On the Ornish program you are allowed 2 non-fat dairy servings per day. I have just one tiny Danone "bio active" yogurt for the healthy digestive bacteria.

That's a total of 43.3 g of protein for the day. This is about 14% calories from protein. Is that enough? Does it matter how much I weigh? I've seen differing opinions on that.

The thing is, I think the tofu is what is causing digestive problems. That and other legumes, all of which I love, but can't stand the digestive problems. Really really bad. :( But if I eliminate the tofu my protein intake will be more like 33 g/day. Is that enough?

Can I add some vegan protein supplements to make up the difference?

Thanks,

doug

p.s. There is no point saying to just live with the digestive problems or they will go away. I've been doing this for 80 days, lost 32 lb so far which is great, but cannot live with the digestive problems caused by legumes and, apparently, tofu.

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#2 Old 08-09-2012, 07:36 PM
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Nutrition research and advice is notoriously fickle, but I believe you are more than fine with your protein intake.  Dr. McDougall believes that if you are eating enough calories on a mostly whole foods diet, you are getting enough protein, and you don't need beans or tofu.  Please read this:

 

http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2007nl/apr/protein.htm

 

Have you tried tempeh, which is fermented tofu?  Do lentils also give you digestive problems?  You might try the vegan version of Beano (search it) which is a digestive enzyme to help with beans.  There are lots of vegan protein powders made out of things like pea and hemp and pumpkin, if you really feel you need more protein.


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#3 Old 08-09-2012, 07:45 PM
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Yeah, I get around 30-40g just eating raw fruits, veggies, and small amounts of nuts and seeds and I'm fine.


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#4 Old 08-09-2012, 08:16 PM
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Thanks for your responses.

 

I will read over that link.

 

I've never seen tempeh for sale here (Tokyo), even though we have zillions of kinds of tofu. I have not tried making lentils. In fact, I haven't cooked any legumes at all. Ever. I either get them in cans or in dry packs for salads.

 

I've tried both Beano and Bean-Zyme and neither seem to work one iota.

 

Thanks,

 

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#5 Old 08-09-2012, 09:53 PM
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I take a pill with 1gram of lysine in it.

Lysine is the amino-acid that you get from legumes, and is the reason people talk about needing legumes.

I believe that pistachio nuts and quiona are alternatives for legumes, in regard to lysine.

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#6 Old 08-09-2012, 10:08 PM
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I haven't been able to find quinoa here either. And I'm not supposed to have nuts because of the high fat content. But... perhaps I can find a supplement. If I really need after all. Maybe, from what I read, my current protein level is enough?

 

Thanks,

 

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#7 Old 08-09-2012, 10:20 PM
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It's not just about the amount of protein, it is the type of protein.
Quote:
Lysine: The Limiting Amino Acid in Vegan Diets

Before getting into a somewhat technical discussion about the protein needs of vegans, let's just cut to the chase - the RDA for lysine is more important than for protein. If you meet lysine requirements on a vegan diet, you will most likely meet protein requirements.

Legumes are the foods highest in the amino acid lysine. Tofu, tempeh, and soy meats are the highest, followed by other legume foods. Other than legumes, quinoa and pistachios are decent sources of lysine.

It is very hard to design a vegan diet that meets lysine requirements for a person who does not exercise daily without including legumes, quinoa, or pistachios, without having too many calories.

http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/protein#lys


You can get lysine pills, which is what I take...Just look for those....

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#8 Old 08-09-2012, 10:34 PM
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See, the McDougall article I posted does not agree with that about lysine. 

 

OP, you can make yourself crazy with nutrition research that is constantly changing. 

 

I believed the common wisdom and guidelines about nutrition for most of my life - things like it's best to eat 3 meals per day, breakfast is the most important meal, etc.  Turns out new research is coming out that a lot of the common advice is wrong.

 

I personally think that McDougall's paper makes sense, so I'm comfortable following it.  All you can really do with nutrition advice is see what makes sense to you and track how you feel and if you're really concerned maybe occasionally get some bloodwork done.


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#9 Old 08-09-2012, 11:17 PM
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yea, McDougall could be right, Irizary.......due to its nature, nutrition science isn't an exact science.

McDougall doesn't seem to list histidine as an essential amino acid; do you know why?

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#10 Old 08-10-2012, 12:37 AM
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Here's something about histidine:

 

Quote:
From his experiments Dr. Rose found that only eight of the ten amino acids essential to rats were also essential to people. Arginine and histidine, the two other amino acids that were found essential in the rat's diet, were not essential to human adults. (However, histidine is essential in diets of young children, and aginine is made slowly by infants. Plants are excellent sources of both of these amino acids and easily satisfy these amino acid needs of growing young children.)

http://www.jivdaya.org/protein_and_a_health_supporting_diet.html


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#11 Old 08-10-2012, 01:05 AM
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This page seems to say that histidine is necessary:
Quote:
....These observations indicate that histidine is an essential amino acid in normal and chronically uremic man. The absence of dietary histidine is associated with failure of normal erythropoiesis.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC301830/




but it isn't a problem getting it anyway.

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#12 Old 08-10-2012, 01:16 AM
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It's probably hard to do the human study, because if it's very easy to get, then it's hard to detect a deprivation to know if it's necessary or not.


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#13 Old 08-10-2012, 08:18 AM
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Didn't the World Health Organization say that a study showed an adult human body requires 2.5% of daily calories coming from protein? And they doubled that to 5% just for a safety margin? If you think about it, an apple is close to 3% protein. Broccoli is something like 15% I think...

 

Check out selfnutritiondata and you can look up the % of protein of any foods as well as have that broken down between the individual amino acids.

 

But I think as long as you're getting plenty of fruits and veggies, you should be more than fine.

 

Remember that there is such a thing as too much protein. A lot of people worry about getting enough, when really they should be worrying about getting too much. Your body can't story away protein like it does fat and carbs, so it has to eliminate the protein through the urine and it takes a toll on the liver and kidneys. Protein, in high quantities, also makes your body acidic (hence, amino ACIDS) when ideally, your body should be slightly alkaline. So your body will protect itself against that acidity by A) holding on to/storing fat to coat the internal organs with and B)taking the calcium phosphate out of your bones and teeth because its a highly alkaline mineral.

 

So I really wouldn't worry about protein intake. Just focus on eating plenty of whole plant foods and you'll be fine :)

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#14 Old 08-10-2012, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by azerea_02 View Post

Didn't the World Health Organization say that a study showed an adult human body requires 2.5% of daily calories coming from protein? And they doubled that to 5% just for a safety margin? If you think about it, an apple is close to 3% protein. Broccoli is something like 15% I think...

 

So I really wouldn't worry about protein intake. Just focus on eating plenty of whole plant foods and you'll be fine :)

 

I agree, worrying about protein if you eat a varied diet, even sans legumes and tofu, isn't necessary. When I was in college (medical clinicals) my nutrition professor pointed out that most folks get too much protein anyhow.

 

I don't know what the WHO says, but my nutrition text says you should get between 10% and 15% of your total calories from protein - although research changes. Anyhow, if you believe this, on a 2,000 calorie diet, just 200 calories need to be protein based (or about 50 g I believe). Some research says 50 g to 75 is decent for an average person. 

 

Nut butters (2 tablespoons — about 28 grams) + that yogurt should be a decent amount. 

 

Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews and pine nuts plus pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds, including seed butter are also decent sources. 

 

Bananas, asparagus, cauliflower, oats and spinach also have protein.


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#15 Old 08-10-2012, 06:19 PM
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Hey Doug,

 

Protein and fat are like the Superman and Kryptonite of the real and modern world. We are blasted with unsound opinions, often tainted for profit, about how mighty protein is and how zero fat is the only way to go. They're both necessary, equally necessary.

 

I am a raw vegan and get all of my protein and fats from raw organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Try to think of it this way: ignore the fact that we have labelled microscopic chemicals in all foods and placed them on black and white labels and the consciouses of all dieters. Once you can do this, you will realize how natural food has all you need, without all those fancy names (protein, carbs, calories, antioxidants).

 

As for grains (gluten), legumes, and your gut, yes, there is much evidence pointing towards a much wider audience being affected by these undigestible foods, hence why I gave them up myself.

 

For best results, seek natural foods...including an avoidance of foods labelled vegan, but are heavily processed (tofu and etc...).

 

Best wishes on your journey.


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#16 Old 08-11-2012, 12:03 PM
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When you say that legumes cause "digestive" problems I'm assuming you mean gas and bloating.....  Not only is that very common when you first start eating legumes, its the normal reaction of your digestive system.   Your digestive system, because you don't regularly eat legumes, lacks the bacteria colonies needed to properly deal with these foods in your large intestine.   The result is gas and bloating and general digestive upset.   But these bacteria colonies will grow over time if you regularly consume legumes. 

 

When I first started to eat more legumes I also have digestive upset, but I knew that it was a natural response so dealt with and gave my system time to adjust.   I'm not sure how long it took, perhaps a couple of months, but today I can eat huge amounts of legumes and at worst it produces some gas 5~6 hours later.  Nothing wrong with a few farts though wink3.gif   I had similar issues when I introduced other high fiber foods as well, for example barley.  

 

Regardless, your protein is on the low end, but its really hard to say how much protein you need.  I would look at for signs of low protein, for example are your nails starting to thin? Your hair falling out more easily? Etc....these are all early signs of low protein.  Personally I try to get around 60 grams and my biggest protein sources are legumes and grains (brown rice, quinoa, barley, etc).     As for as low-fat protein sources its really hard to beat legumes....I would suggest you start eating them on a regular basis, but starting with small servings, and give it many months before you write them off due to "digestive problems".  

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#17 Old 08-11-2012, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by moreapplesaday View Post

As for grains (gluten), legumes, and your gut, yes, there is much evidence pointing towards a much wider audience being affected by these undigestible foods, hence why I gave them up myself.

 

 

"grains" is not equivalent to "gluten", only particular grains have gluten, namely wheat and its relatives.   Coeliac disease, which only applies to gluten containing grains, is uncommon (less than 1%).   Further people often mistake the normal digestive reaction to whole grains and legumes for some sort of "intolerance" for these foods, so its really difficult to tell how many people have a real issue with these foods.    

 

Grains and legumes are not digestible? That's funny considering cooked grains and legumes have the most digestible proteins of any plant food (almost as high as meat) and have fueled numerous civilizations.  

 

For humans, cooking is perfectly natural, our ancestors started to cook foods long before homo sapiens walked the planet....and it shows in our digestive structure when you compare it to our raw eating relatives.  

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#18 Old 08-12-2012, 02:58 AM
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Well I just got back from "Universal Drug" (on their point card is says, "Self Medicate") and:

 

(1) There were no vegan protein powers.

(2) There were no probiotic tablets.

(3) There were no digestive enzymes.

 

And in the supermarket on the way back I forgot to buy sprouts.

 

Plus my Java Sparrow died yesterday. http://lerner.net/back-from-the-ekoin-in-ryogoku/ :(

 

About protein: I seem to be getting about 14% calories from protein. But I may not be getting enough calories. I'm following the Ornish program and when you eliminate animal products, oils, nuts (e.g. no nut butters) and seeds it's hard to eat anywhere near 1800 calories/day. I'm logging with myfitnesspal.com and seem to be averaging 1200-1400 calories/day. And less than that this week with the stress of taking care of Hao (my Java Sparrow).

As for "getting used" to the legumes, my body just isn't. It's really horrible and not something I can deal with so I am just not eating them anymore. I tried eating them almost every day for 80+ days and it hasn't gotten even one iota better.

 

 

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#19 Old 08-12-2012, 12:52 PM
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I'm following the Ornish program and when you eliminate animal products, oils, nuts (e.g. no nut butters) and seeds it's hard to eat anywhere near 1800 calories/day. I'm logging with myfitnesspal.com and seem to be averaging 1200-1400 calories/day. And less than that this week with the stress of taking care of Hao (my Java Sparrow).

As for "getting used" to the legumes, my body just isn't. It's really horrible and not something I can deal with so I am just not eating them anymore. I tried eating them almost every day for 80+ days and it hasn't gotten even one iota better.

 

Its really not that difficult, you can get plenty of calories from starchy foods which are naturally low in fat.     With a low-fat diet you just have to increase the size of your meals, low-fat meals are a lot less calorie dense than a similar moderate/high fat meal.   

 

Unless there is something abnormal about your body, it should get use to consuming legumes.  Furthermore, not all legumes are the same, so you could have a sensitivity to say...kidney beans and be perfectly fine with peas or peanuts.  But you don't need to consume legumes...there are alternatives.    

 

80 days isn't really enough time for your body to adjust to a major dietary change.  

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#20 Old 08-12-2012, 04:38 PM
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Above you mentioned that it took you a couple of months to get used to the legumes. But in your latest note you say 80 days isn't really enough time for your body to adjust. 

 

How long is enough time? :)

 

It really is bad. But without tofu and legumes the last couple of days things are back to normal.

 

I really do like eating both tofu and legumes, but the digestive distress is just awful. I can't live anything like a normal life that way. So I think I will just do without for now.

 

Thanks,

 

doug

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#21 Old 08-12-2012, 10:48 PM
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Kind of like Omega-6 fatty acids.

 

douglerner, why are you so worried about protein? There is no such thing as protein deficiency, only protein energy malnutrition. Eat enough whole foods and you will be fine (actually, eating only whole foods is best). Amino acid supplements are not whole foods.

 

I eat only fruits and vegetables. I get all the protein my body needs to thrive.

 

I also had loads of trouble digesting legumes when I was eating cooked vegan--baked beans, mung beans, chickpeas, or any other bean gave me gas and made me bloated and uncomfortable, even after months. I eventually just stuck mostly to grains and pseudograins: brown rice, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, sorghum, oats, etc. They digest much easier and you will get all the protein you need, as long as you eat enough. But get your fruits and veggies too.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Irizary View Post

It's probably hard to do the human study, because if it's very easy to get, then it's hard to detect a deprivation to know if it's necessary or not.

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#22 Old 08-12-2012, 10:56 PM
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Magnetic,

 

I'm not really "overly" concerned about the amount of protein I'm eating, just "mildly concerned."

 

Also this past week I've felt unusually tired and drained. But that may have more to do with simultaneously having a cold and my Java Sparrow passing away. :(

 

How important are whole grains? White rice and brown rice have about the same amounts of protein, don't they?

 

I would rather eat whole grains (they are tastier and more satisfying) but I can't find a lot of things here, such as quinoa. Maybe I'll buy a package of brown rice and learn how to use my rice cooker. I've been in Japan for 29 years now and have never once cooked rice. 

 

Thanks,

 

doug

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#23 Old 08-13-2012, 12:15 PM
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I also had loads of trouble digesting legumes when I was eating cooked vegan--baked beans, mung beans, chickpeas, or any other bean gave me gas and made me bloated and uncomfortable, even after months.

 

When people speak about legumes as if they are some homogeneous food group its hard to take it very seriously, the various legumes all have rather different chemical structures.  Therefore, a digestive system that is well equipped to consume pinto beans may respond poorly to lentils.   They aren't the same food....

 

With the exception of some people with allergies (and even here, it would be an allergy to a particular legume), any healthy digestive system can build the bacteria colonies required for the healthy digestion of legumes   But it requires consist consumption of not just legumes in general, but the particular legume.    There are billions of people (Indians, Mexicans, etc) that consume legumes on an almost daily basis and they don't get bloated, they don't get overtly gassy, etc.   The issue with legumes, for the vast majority, is just a matter of accumulation....

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#24 Old 08-14-2012, 07:44 AM
 
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It has been interesting reading your comments on protein intake.  I googled, "am I getting enough protein on my vegan diet" and happened upon your conversation.

I am an athlete and train about 2 hours a day as well as work hard as a high school teacher.  I am 43 and just noticed my hair beginning to thin so I am concerned that I might not be getting enough protein in my vegan diet.  Best thing to do...get a blood test!  If it is not high enough, I will have to supplement with protein (I have found the best bang for your buck is brown rice protein.)  

Mr. Lerner, I too had great difficulty with bloating and gas when I first tried eating legumes.  Take a few days off and slowly introduce them, then another day or two off... your digestive tract will slowly but surely get accustomed to it.  I suffered and now I enjoy eating those power packed little friends!  

Sorry to hear about your sparrow : (  

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#25 Old 08-14-2012, 01:25 PM
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protein intake looks ok to me, it does depend on your physical activity level when you need to require more, like a construction worker or an endurance athlete will need more daily intake. but just for regular people this looks fine.

 

as for tofu, it does cause digestive distress for many people (me included), it is also the 4th most common allergy/intolerance. good idea to eliminate it from your diet .

 

as for beans and digestive distress: are you using canned beans or dried ones?  canned ones tend to cause more distress, especially if you use the liquid they come in.  i prefer dried beans soaked at least 12 hours.  the longer the soak the easier it is to digest bc the sugars that cause problems in the digestive tract are released.  putting some baking soda in the soaking water also helps digestion.  do not cook beans in soaking water rinse well and cook low and slow until they are not firm at all.

 

natural digestive enzymes are found in foods like pineapple and papaya.  a few pieces of raw pineapple after a meal help, or a smoothie w papaya etc.

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