Amino acids are the building blocks of protein just like letters make up words. Without the proper amino acids you won’t make a complete word (protein). The better you understand how protein works the more you can be sure that your getting enough of it.
Most of the time vegetarians aren’t getting all their nutrients they need from protein simply because they don’t fully understand tht there is more than one type. Many newly vegetarians believe if they add an egg or can of beans to their meal then they have successfully added a non meat replacement. The reason why meat is such a great protein is because it’s contains all the right amino acids in the right amount that your body needs.
Now to break it down a bit more there are two types of amino acids, essential and non essential ones.
9 Essential amio acids: This means your body cannot make these amino acids, they must come from food or supplements.
Here they are:
1. Isoleucine – muscle and formation of hemoglobin
2. Leucine – promotes healing of skin and bones and helps reduce muscle breakdown
3. Lysine – inhibits viruses and aids in bone growth
4. Methionine – helps increase antioxidant levels, reduce cholesterol levels and remove toxic waste from liver
5. Phenylalanine – fights depression by enhancing mood, memory and alertness
6. Histidine – increase white and red blood cells and helps treat allergies ( only essential for infants)
7. Tryptophan – stimulates the release of growth hormones
8. Valine – helps repair damaged tissue and regulate blood sugar levels
9. Threonine – helps prevent fatty build up in the liver and important for collagen
11 Non- essential amio acids: This means your body can make these amino acids from using the above essential ones.
Here they are:
1. Alanine – helps build up the immune system
2. Arginine – aids in immune system and formation of collagen
3. Asparagine- aids in nervous system
4. Aspartic Acid – brain function
5. Cysteine – skin and hair
6. Glutamine – aids in memory, concentration and immune system functions
7. Glutamic acid – great source of energy
8. Glycine – helps to calm aggression and depression and reduce sugar cravings
9. Proline – helps in the formation of connective tissue and heart muscle
10. Serine – aids in memory and nervous system function
11. Tyrosine – increases mood
Unlike other nutrients, your body doesn’t store amino acids, which is why you need to be consuming them on a daily basis. A good rule to keep in mind is to make sure you add in at least one serving of protein to each meal. Even if it’s just a mid-day snack you could add in some natural peanut butter to a sliced up apple. For more examples of combinations of foods that make up a great protein source, check out last weeks article on plant protein sources.
Here are some other great protein sources:
Sprouted beans (a DIY article is on it’s way!)
Beans (stick to BPA free cans, dried or organic to avoid chemicals from the tin cans)
Quinoa -keen-wah- (complete plant protein source)
Nut butters (try almond butter for an alternative to peanuts)
Eggs (add an egg to a noodle and veggie stir-fry to add some protein)
whey/ hemp protein (on the go? add a scoop to water, almond milk or oatmeal!)
Hope these gave you some inspiration and ideas for your next protein packed meal.
Your Health Nut,