Sean Van Staden
There is a massive tug-of-war between whether one should go for animal-based protein or plant-based protein.
There is a lot of convincing evidence on both sides of the spectrum, but you need to understand the whole picture before deciding to go right, left or middle. If you are basing your opinion on a video you saw that changed your mindset then you are in for trouble.
Let me share some neutral facts about both and then do more homework and hire the experts to guide you.
What is plant-based eating?
What is animal-based eating?
Now, let’s check out the pros and cons.
1. Plant-based diets are higher in fibers, complex carbohydrates and water content from various fruits and vegetables. This will help a person feel fuller for longer, prohibiting the need to indulge in cravings and bad snacking at three in the afternoon.
2. Studies have shown that people consuming primarily plant-based products are at a lower risk of heart disease, due to the epithelial wall being able to open up more when consuming plant-based foods to increase the amount of healthy oxygenated blood to flow in and around the body.
1. Its very easy to say, one day that you will be switching over to a plant-based diet but unfortunately if this isn’t done correctly, there may be some cons to making the big switch like reduced protein intake due to not consuming the correct foods.
2. Once again, from consuming the incorrect foods we may become iron deficient from ingredients not containing enough or any iron.
3. Lower essential fatty acid intake due to not being able to make an educated decision when purchasing your foods for the week.
Seven quality plant-based foods
1 Tofu – About 10g of protein per quarter cup.
2 Edamame Beans – Contains 8.5g of protein per half cup.
3 Tempeh – Contains about 15g of protein per quarter cup.
4 Cooked lentils – Contains 8.84g of protein per half cup.
5 Chickpeas – Contain around 7.25g of protein per half cup.
6 Quinoa – Contains about 8g of protein per one cup.
7 Almonds – Contain around 16.5 grams of protein per half cup.
1. Meat like poultry, beef, pork and fish contain many of the daily nutrients we need in
order to function. These include proteins, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium.
2. As we know, proteins are the building blocks for our bones, muscles, cartilage, skin
and blood. You can agree these are very important functions that we need to keep operating efficiently at all times.
1. By consuming animal-based products there may an increased risk of cancers due to
the probiotics and foods the animals are fed.
2. Animal products have a higher fat content that can contribute to further health problems in the future. This usually comes when animal products are enjoyed in excess.
3. Many animal products cost a lot more to produce than plant proteins. It takes over 18 000 litres of water to support just one beef cow which in turn contributes to our excessive need for water throughout our planet and country.
Seven quality animal-based foods
1 Tuna – 85g of tuna is equivalent to 20g of protein.
2 Salmon – 85g of salmon is equivalent to 19g of protein.
3 Chicken breast – 85g of chicken breast is equivalent to 27g of protein.
4 Skirt steak – 85g of skirt steak is equivalent to 25g of protein.
5 Ground beef (70% lean) – 85g of ground beef is equivalent to 22g of protein.
6 Eggs – 1 large egg is equivalent to 6g of protein.
7 Cheddar cheese – 85g of cheddar cheese is equivalent to 19g of protein.
And a last thought:
The human body is able to create and supply certain amino acids, 11 to be exact, but there are nine other amino acids that the body cannot create and will therefore need to get these amino acids from the foods we consume.
Both plant proteins and animal proteins are able to give you the remaining nine amino acids you lack but are more readily accessible from animal-based products than from plant-based products.
With that being said, a healthy diet, whether plant- or animal-based, requires good and extensive planning.
With an end goal in mind and a strategy to get there is what it will take in order to live a happy and healthy life.
Sean van Staden is a sport scientist. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanVStaden or visit advancedsp.co.za.
Last week’s column can be found here.
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