Overview of Non-Animal Derived Proteins

They key to non-meat protein is VARIETY, I have had a lot of questions recently about protein so here’s a quick intro!
Protein is actually made up of smaller building blocks, called amino acids
Protein and amino acids are essential in humans for not only daily energy, but in every one of our cells for growth, repair and synthesis. 8 of these amino acids are not produced by our body, meaning that we have to source them through our diet.

Animal derived proteins tend to be more biologically active and contain the majority of amino acids that we need, for example an egg contains around 7g of protein and boasts a complete amino acid profile.
Plant-derived proteins on the other hand have v different amino acid profiles.
But, not to panic because non-meat protein is a lot easier to come by that you may initially realise.
Different protein sources tend to have very different amino acid profiles, so if you are consuming more than one source in a sitting, it is more than likely that you are actually covering all bases.

It is recommended as a general rule of thumb that a mixture of pulses and wholegrains are consumed, for example wheat & rice proteins are higher in the amino acid methionine whilst beans & peas are high in lysine. Therefore, a meal comprising tofu and brown rice or a breakfast of peanut butter on toast actually provides a complete source!

Recommendations:

We should be aiming to consume 2-3 portions of protein a day, so do try and get some in at each meal if you can.
In healthy adults, around 50g of protein a day is required to meet nitrogen balance and you should be aiming to meet the Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) of 0.45g per 1kg of bodyweight.

Tips and Tricks:

So if you aren’t a meat eater, or don’t like eating eggs or dairy and are struggling to meet those recommendations, here are some little tips:

  • Add more oats or peanut butter into your breakfast
  • Add nuts & seeds into your snacks & bakes (3 tbsp of seeds or nuts = 1 portion of protein)
  • Swap in wholegrain varieties of rice, pasta and bread
  • Add more pulses like lentils & chickpeas- yes of course hummous counts!

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