When most of us hear the word ‘protein’, our first thought goes to red meat. We think steak, ribs, bacon, and chicken. However, many vegetables can often be much better sources of protein than red meats. There are a few common misconceptions about the wide variety of viable sources of protein.
In addition, there are a plethora of myths regarding the relative importance of protein in comparison to carbohydrates, fruits, and healthy fats.
Protein: The Myths and Misconceptions
Here, we will explore a few of these common myths and misconceptions about protein:
- ‘There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Protein’
It cannot be argued that human beings need protein. Protein plays a key role in basically all of our body’s structural and functional mechanisms. It is one of the three macronutrients that are essential for every human being to obtain as a part of their diet.
However, as with many things in life, more is not always better. In fact, too much protein consumption can actually lead to the proliferation of disease. Excess protein, mainly coming from animal sources, actually puts an added burden on our kidneys, potentially contributing to an increased risk of gout, as well as many other chronic diseases.
- It’s Difficult to Find ‘Complete Proteins’
As we discussed earlier, many people commonly resort to animal sources as the only viable sources of protein in their lives. However, this is not true. Proteins from many different plants can be extremely healthy for the body.
The fact that amino acids from animal sources more closely represent those which humans actually utilize is inconsequential. The body breaks down these amino acids, pools it in the blood for further use, and uses them to construct new proteins in the future.
The consumption of a variety of plants will give you all of the essential amino acids required to sustain proper metabolism. Additionally, plant protein contains a number of antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that they body will certainly use to its advantage.
- ‘There’s No Way Vegetarians Eat Enough Protein’
Sometime people are more astounded by the fact that you are a vegetarian than they are when they realize that you are also a smoker. For some reason, there is some misconception about the nutritional value of plants, in general.
In the case, of protein many people criticize vegetarians by speculating on how it could be possible that they consume enough protein in their diet to keep their body operating at an optimal level.
However, there are many other food sources that provide healthy amounts of protein for your body. Red meat is not the only answer. In fact, an eight-ounce steak contains 64 grams of protein, but also packs in 34 grams of fat, 13 of which are saturated. In comparison, one cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein and less than one gram of fat.
A Creative Solution
Being vegetarian may simply require a bit more creativity in terms of your diet. Eating a wide variety of nuts, whole grains, legumes, fruits and veggies will help you get all the protein and amino acids that your body needs.