DISCLAIMER-This article is not intended to discourage or encourage any particular protein source but rather to enlighten and inform people of your choices. Please accept my opinion within the text as just that. I’m not a scientist, food chemist or nutritionist but here you are reading my article on the internet…where everything is “truth” LOL, and therefor I will subject you to my thoughts based on several years experience in the fitness and nutrition industry And if you are concerned about the other essential nutrients that are not being discussed in this article, have no fear, because they are next on the list!
As a nation we are obviously moving toward eating more and more carbohydrates and finding it increasingly more difficult to implement protein into the average American diet. And I for one am on the prowl to change our obese nation one essential nutrient at a time. Now although this is not the article where I’m going to discuss ratio’s of nutrients it is the article about PROTEIN sources and new protein trends. Please read on for more info.
Central Mexican chia seeds and sprouts are one of the newer proteins to hit mainstream. Although they are an old food source for many cultures it has not been studied for its nutritional value as much as other more common western foods. Therefor, there seems to be some conflicting information about how to get the most out of AND absorb more of the protein. Some studies stated that soaking it may cause around 2% loss in protein as opposed to heating the seeds (baking) or eating them raw. Others reported finding that the absorption rate was much much higher if the seeds were allowed to soak for a long period of time. So although baking them appears to increase the protein how much of that protein is then absorbed and used by the body and at what rate is it absorbed to be used as fuel? My recommendation is to keep on eye on this one as more double blind studies are conducted to find out the best process. In the meantime however, these seeds are pretty nutritious and protein filled (about 2-4 g per ounce depending if its cooked or not). With more Omegas than flax and 11 grams of fiber per ounce it may aid in keeping you healthy.
Quinoa is the South American seed used much like we use other grains. The light nutty flavor makes it easy to use in place of rice. It can also be ground for flour or eaten as a cereal. Definitely easier than chia to introduce into your diet if you are eating a westernized diet plan already. Like the chia seed this seed is also a little bland and I think is best mixed with a strong additive like peppers or onion. Adding an ounce of black beans can also be a tasty way to increase the protein (2 grams) to the 1 gram of protein per cooked ounce of quinoa. Please make no mistake about this product, it is rated 18 on the glycemic load and is indeed a carbohydrate. But consuming carbs and proteins together from one source is pretty awesome.
Soy protein is one of the cheaper complete proteins that I’m aware of on the market today. There has been allot of controversy over soy products and their use. Oligosaccharides, estrogen effects, phytic acid, hemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors are all the rage of this once trendy product. There are a few points to consider when making up your mind weather or not to use soy. First, studies done with soy have been on animals not humans. Although closely related as far as gastrointestinal make up we are not pigs (most of us). Therefor it seems a little inconclusive to accept all the research done up to this point positive or negative alike. Second, many countries have been using soy in their culture for many years without note of any direct side effect. Third, the processing of soy vastly changes the molecular and chemical make up of the legume itself. Therefor perhaps altering either the negative side effects or possibly eliminating the profound positive aspects of soy. So, if you like soy and find it refreshing or nutritious and can’t imagine eating another protein, I say eat it! If you think the taste of soy is repulsive regardless of form then I suggest finding a more suitable protein for yourself. Which ever route you choose please keep moderation at the forefront of that decision and I’m sure you’ll be just fine.
Of course the most familiar protein for majority of the western population is animal, fish, whey and egg protein. I recognize that lumping all of these into one group may not sit well with some people but they have a few similar traits and are readily available in most communities. The most pronounced trait being that all of these proteins come from living creatures. I grew up oblivious to the fact of there being any other protein aside from what we raised on the farm or got from the dairy. It was an easy to transition to then learn the facts about synthesizing meat, ie there is about 6 grams of protein per ounce in prime rib, roughly 7 grams for salmon, 4 grams for chicken and so on. In my past experience, in order to get protein you had to kill something or deprive a young of its nutrition to get your own (ie: milk). For most of us this still holds very true. So when choosing this protein category consider purchasing: free range, lean cuts, plain, unsweetened, organic, skinless, grilled, and with no “additives” respectively. And although there is plenty of protein in the above listed items you may want to keep in mind “all things in moderation”. For further insight into the consequences of overdoing this section please recall all the kidney trouble associated with extreme protein dieters in the past.
Try new things when it comes to protein. Branch out and add something new to your palate as often as you feel comfortable doing so. Because there is such a things as too much of a good thing.