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Vegetarians and Proteins

Disclaimer: I am not a certified nutritionist and all the contents are my research from different sources online and discussions with people who happen to be medical professionals. 

I am a vegetarian. I have been one all my life. Recently, I was suggested to increase my protein intake. I went and bought a protein shake powder made from 'whey protein'. Not to discourage any one, but it was horrible. I couldn't even gulp it down like medicine. It made me read some stuff and that, I am sharing with you all today.

Everyone knows that protein is very important for our body. It is protein that maintains, builds up and replaces the tissues in our body. Proteins are basically made by amino acids. There are totally 22 amino acids that are essential for our body. Out of these 22, our bodies are capable of producing the 13 of them by themselves. We need the food we eat to have the protein that our body can breakdown to get the remaining  9 amino acids.

There are two kinds of protein called essential protein (that means it has protein that gives all 9 amino acids when broken down) and non-essential protein (that do not have all the amino acids). All meat and dairy products that have protein are essential proteins or complete. If you are a meat eater, you don't really have to worry about it.

But, if you are a vegetarian like me, then you have to mix and match different ingredients to get all the proteins your body needs. At the same time, remember that all proteins come with fat and or carbohydrates. That adds up the calories too. One big advantage of eating heavy protein with all the meals is your body needs a lot of time to break them down keeping you full for a long time. When you eat just the carbs or high carb diet, you are hungry faster since your body needs very less effort in breaking them down.

One of the best source of protein for the vegetarians is probably tofu combined with many other nuts and legumes.
One 1/2 cup serving of hard / firm raw tofu is about 94 calories and has about 11 gms of protein and it is a cholesterol free food.
Here is a chart I found online with details of nutrients of many legumes. This is the largest I could paste here. Click on it to see the details. This is for 1 cup of legumes.
But the main question why I wrote this post is "Are we taking enough protein?". To calculate how much protein your body needs, there is a formula. Your body needs 1 gm of protein per Kilo gram (not pound) of your body weight per day. It is good if you can mix and match different protein foods to get all the amino acids.
Example: A person weighing 150 pounds = 68 kilograms (1 kilogram  is approximately 2.25 pounds) will need a total of 68 gms of protein per day. Read the label to find out how much of anything has how many gms of protein per serving. That should help you find out if you are taking enough protein or not.
Many of you might know all these details already. I was aiming this to help those who didn't. I definitely didn't know how much protein is needed every day myself until I started reading a lot of articles online.


Sources:
http://kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/body/protein.html#
http://www.fatfreekitchen.com/nutrition/nutrition-lentils.html
http://vegetarian.about.com/od/healthnutrition/p/tofunutrition.htm

Enjoy!!

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