I have been a Wellness Coach since 2004, so nearly 13 years to date. I have, in that period, conducted well over thousand wellness evaluations, judging from all the files I still keep of everyone who walked through the door or I spoke to over the phone/ Skype. Most wanted to lose weight, some just more energy and vitality, a few who actually needed to gain weight. Some already knew that something was wrong with the balance in their nutrition. There were a few of those who came absolutely sure that their diet wass healthy, so they wanted me to confirm that was the case, in order for them to perhaps seek doctor’s help and investigate if there is something more sinister going on that would explain their lack of energy and weight gain.
One thing was sure, absolutely everyone who came to see me could benefit from more nutrition and better snack/ meal balance, some with just a few tweaks, some with major changes to produce the results they were after.Once this was addressed, everyone got a result they wanted, as long as they stuck to the plan, which is another story entirely.
One thing that always stuck out was that most who came consumed in between 25% to no more than 60% of the protein they should have. This alone would be a major reason why many had difficulty with weight management, cravings, energy dips, tiredness, slower metabolism and many more issues at a deeper cellular level.
Protein is an essential macronutrient and its role ranges from contributing to a growth of muscle mass to the maintenance of muscle and bone tissue and beyond. These are very important functions, therefore adequate amount of protein will help you to stay healthy as, without it, it is almost impossible to sustain a balanced diet and reach your goals. Herbalife Nutrition philosophy recommends getting 30% of your daily calorie intake from protein. If exercising, body’s protein and other nutrient needs go even higher, so more is needed, and needs to be adjusted accordingly to have better results from your workout.
We all come in different shapes and sizes so, protein nutritional needs would be different for different people… As a wellness coach, during consultation, depending whether someone wishes to lose, gain or maintain their weight – their calories will be set around or just under their RMR and protein will be personalised according to their lean muscle to ensure protein needs are met and no further muscle wastage takes place or, in cases of weight gain – that body is able to increase lean muscle, topped with an adequate exercise regime.
Unless we are vegetarian or vegan – we should consume a combination of proteins from both vegetable/ plant and animal sources. Soy is one of the best vegetable sources as it provides the complete protein with all the amino acids we need for maintenance of lean muscle with far better digestability than any animal protein, making it a superior source. Vegetarians and vegans need to combine in a meal various other plant sources to get a complete protein.
I have read enough on the subject of animal protein (see “The China Study”, by T Colin Campbell and Thomas M Campbell II) to be absolutely convinced that, on a cellular level, it is far healthier to consume vegetarian protein. Whilst I am not a vegetarian myself, I aim personally, and I also advise all my clients, to eat a diet where animal protein will be no more than 50% of daily diet.
On most days I actually eat no more than 25% of daily protein that comes from animals (meat in particular), which is only 10% of daily calorie intake (150 calories (100gr of lean meat) out of 1500 daily calories). Most days I will try not to have any meat at all.
I achieve my daily protein requirement through one or two of our balanced nutritional Formula 1 Shakes (always for breakfast and possibly one extra meal, lunch or dinner), healthy snacks that might be dairy, soy (or other plant) protein based and one balanced meal that sometimes has a lean meat combined with vegetables and sometimes, most times, a vegetarian options such as tofu, tofu sausages, soya mince sausages, quorn sausages, quorn mince, and sometimes protein from dairy such as eggs and cottage cheese and yoghurt. Most meal plans for my clients will look like that too, depending on their protein requirement.
Most of the recipes below you will find under Healthy Main Meals blog posts and some pictures will give you an idea even how your regular main meals can be made into vegetarian. Just replace meat with some vegetarian protein alternatives like some I mentioned above, those without dairy would be considered vegan. I aim for minimum 15 grams of protein per 200 calories worth of vegetarian meat alternative, although some give a lot more. I advise between 25-30 grams of protein per meal and 8-15 grams of protein for each snack, depending on your body composition; those with more lean muscle will require more protein to maintain it and vice versa.
Five smaller balanced meals and snack satisfy my personal protein requirement of 95 grams per day; this certinly keeps me personally full, maintains my lean muscle, keeps body fat low and I add a recover Formula 1 shake after each exercise for extra protein and nutrient boost.
My best advices are – you need to know what yur protein requirement is, the above are good guidelines, and try to go vegetarian wherever possible bearing in mind that being vegetarian is not just about eating vegetables – protein requirements must be met (complete protein, that is) and meals still need to have the right balance of carbs v fats v protein. Whilst individual components are healthy, if they are not in the right balance, it is not an entirely healthy meal. If not sure about it, please feel free to reach out.
So, go green and long live (plant) protein!