Lately, I’ve been investigating the need for people over forty to consume adequate dietary protein in order to stave off sarcopenia, the age-related loss of lean body mass (aka muscle tissue). For most aging people, when sarcopenia arrives, it comes to stay... but this doesn't have to be the case.
Earlier this month, I wrote about how sarcopenia may be prevented or reversed by consuming more protein, either in whole foods, or as food supplements (hemp protein shakes, for instance).
In combination with weight-bearing exercise, increased protein intake can make a world of difference in terms of maintaining muscle strength and lean body mass.
Being of a certain age myself, I have a strong personal interest in keeping sarcopenia at bay, which means staying physically active, and finding ways to boost my protein consumption. Because I follow a vegetarian, high raw diet (more than half my food is raw and uncooked), this takes some special planning. I'm not a vegan, so I may choose to include raw milk cheeses and organic, free-range eggs as valuable protein sources. But for the most part, I am primarily looking at plants to satisfy my protein needs.
All plant foods—even fruits—contain proteins and amino acids, the "building blocks" of protein. But while the average piece of fruit furnishes only about 1 gram of protein, many plant sources pack a far more significant punch. Top players in Team Plant Protein include nuts and seeds, legumes, and certain superfoods, notably the microalgae spirulina and chlorella.
You may be as astounded as I first was to learn that spirulina and chlorella provide a phenomenal 60% protein by weight. In real-life terms, this means that one tablespoon of spirulina contains the same amount of protein as one ounce of raw goat cheese, one ounce of raw almonds (23 nuts), half a cup of cooked black beans, or a medium chicken egg: 6 grams.
I learned this while putting together my handy dandy High Raw-Friendly Vegetarian Protein Counter. I designed the HRVPC to include the most popular foods that high raw veggie types such as myself tend to eat on a regular basis, including superfoods like maca and goji berries. (I couldn’t find a chart like this anywhere, so I made my own!) Here it is:
The Eat to Evolve High Raw-Friendly Vegetarian Protein Counter, pictured above, has been tremendously useful in helping me to get a feel for how much protein I consume every day. It's also helping me figure out ways to increase my daily protein intake. As I mentioned in my last post on the topic, my initial goal is to consume at least 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight each day. (Directions on how to do this calculation are included in that post.)
One of my favorite protein boosting strategies so far is to add a combination of raw hemp seeds (3.5 grams per tablespoon) and hemp protein powder (7 grams per tablespoon) to my breakfast smoothies. With superfoods like these and others added (chia, anyone?), it's easy to get 20 grams of protein into a tasty, 16-oz drink that's also brimming with high vibrations of life force energy and raw enzymes from fresh organic fruits and green leafy veggies. I’ll be posting recipes for some of my delicious Green Power Smoothies and Raw Vegan Protein Shakes next month, so keep checking this blog, or *Like* Eat to Evolve on Facebook to get my blog post updates right on your news feed.
For now, please enjoy perusing my High Raw-Friendly Vegetarian Protein Counter. You'll be amazed at some of the surprise players in the significant protein game. (Think baked potatoes, steamed spinach, raw kale, and even raw cacao. Seriously!)
Let me know if you’d like a high resolution pdf of the HRVProtein Counter, and I’ll be happy to send you one. Just be sure to link the chart back to me if you start posting it around. Thank you!