By Kardena Pauza
Most foods have some combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat – even vegetables contain all three macronutrients! So here’s a list of some whole foods and their protein, carbohydrate, and fat content.
The reason I am showing you the three macronutrients is because people tend to eat too much of the wrong foods and they are gaining weight or stuck at a plateau and not losing weight. Typically a person is more likely to over eat on starchy carbohydrates or fat.
Some foods may contain more fat than protein, adding an excessive amount of calories in such a tiny portion. You want to be aware of these foods so you make sure and eat the right portion so you can easily lose weight.
Food Type : Protein / Carbohydrates / Fats (in grams)
· Tofu 4 oz.: 8 / 4 / 4
· Black Beans ½ cup: 7.5 / 20 / 5
· Peanut Butter 1 Tb: 4 / 3.5 / 8
· Almond Butter 1 Tb: 2 / 3 / 9
· Cashew Nuts ¼ cup: 5 / 9 / 12
· Seitan 3 oz.: 20 / 8 / 2
· Tempeh 4 oz.: 16 / 14 / 6
· Sunflower seeds raw ¼ cup: 6 / 6 / 14
· Soybeans ½ cup: 16 / 14 / 8
One food I love is almond butter and I could eat almond butter everyday, twice a day.
The problem is it’s loaded with fat which means it’s very calorie dense. Every gram of fat equals 9 calories of energy where as protein and carbs have 4 calories per gram. You have to expend more energy to burn off 1 gram of fat than 1 gram of protein or carbs.
Fat is not particularly bad, it’s the quantity that’s the issue.
Our body’s need fat for many functions so please do not cut them out completely. On average for a female, you want to take in between 7-12 gr. of protein per sitting depending on your calories for the day and if you are eating it for a snack or as part of your main meal.
An extra scoop of nut butter here and there can add up to hundreds of excess calories that can sabotage your weight loss progress. It is easy to over eat on nut butters so measure out a serving and put the rest away so double dipping doesn’t happen.
What’s the Deal with Complementary Protein?
Protein is made up of amino acids, often described as its “building blocks”. We actually have a biological requirement for amino acids, not for protein.
Humans cannot make eight of the twenty common amino acids, so these amino acids are considered to be essential. In other words, we must get these amino acids from our food. We need all eight of these amino acids for our body to make certain proteins in the body.
Only eggs, milk, meat, and fish contain all of the essential amino acids.
Plant proteins on the other hand are usually low in one or two of the essential amino acids. For example, grains are lower in lysine (an essential amino acid) and higher in other amino acids. Legumes are lower in methionine (another essential amino acid) and high in other amino acids.
As a result, many diet experts insist that vegetarians consume “complementary foods” at
a meal – meaning that you eat two foods that combine to give you all the essential amino acids – such as beans and rice.
But that’s “old school” thinking.
Recent studies have shown that this is not the case at all. Our bodies have what’s called an amino acid pool where it cycles amino acids in the blood stream and stores them until it can use the amino acids for other purposes in the body or it’s used for energy.
Your cells are constantly breaking down and synthesizing new proteins. Each day more amino acids are recycled in your body than are supplied in our diet. If you eat a grain source of protein in one meal and a protein source from beans the next meal, then that will be just as good as eating them together at the same meal.
As long as you have a variety of proteins throughout the day, the body will hold on to the amino acids that have not been used and place them in the amino acid pool to be used later.
Our bodies are AMAZING and RESOURCEFUL.
As long as you eat a variety of grains, vegetables, and nuts everyday the body will have the resources it needs to build healthy protein.
What about Protein Powders?
Protein powders have found their way into every grocery store and health food store.
These powders can be helpful in supplementing protein when you are busy or if you are looking for an alternative to beans or nut meal.
There are a variety of protein powder options on the market now. Traditionally you would find only egg protein, whey, and soy. With newer technology and knowledge about other healthy sources of protein a new generation of protein powders has arrived.
Now you can find pea protein, hemp, rice, and artichoke protein. These next generation protein powders are great for vegans since whey and eggs are dairy-derived the selection was limiting.
Remember that protein powder is a supplement and NOT a meal replacement. These powders supply protein but you will need to eat other foods with your meal to ensure you are power packed with nutrients.
Whole natural foods are your premium source of nutrients and digestible protein so lean on this source mainly and secondly use protein powders.
A healthy and safe portion per day is 1-2 servings. A protein smoothie with berries for breakfast and possibly a snack size portion later in the day will boost your protein intake and still give you plenty of opportunities to incorporate whole foods. A serving size of protein powder for a female is approximately 15 grams and approximately 20 grams for men and half this amount for snacks.
So, there are just a few tips to ensure you get enough protein into your daily diet.
Learn more about this in the Easy Veggie Meal Planner.