Biggest Myths About
Accurate nutrition information is hard to come by – hence why I write this blog!
There are just so many unsupported claims out there about diet and health, especially when it comes to plant-based diets.
In what is likely an elaborate campaign by “Big Cow” to keep people shoveling hamburgers, myths about plant-based protein are particularly rampant online.
So today we’re going to cut through the cow crap and get right down to the facts by busting the top three myths about plant-based protein.
Myth #1 – It’s hard to get enough protein on a plant-based diet.
The most common question I get when I tell people that I eat a predominantly plant-based diet is – how do you get your protein?
If you know anything about macronutrients, then you know that A. You don’t need as much protein as your personal trainer would have you believe and B. Protein is in everything!
ALL whole foods contain protein. That’s right – veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, bread – even, gasp, white bread has protein. Heck, even coffee has protein.
There is no shortage of protein in a plant-based diet. However, some sources are definitely more nutrient-dense than others. If you’re looking for the most nutritious sources, check out my other video, The Best Sources of Plant-Based Protein.
Myth #2 – Plant protein is inferior to animal protein.
Bottom line – Protein is protein.
If the body is getting each of the nine essential amino acids it needs to function, it doesn’t matter where those amino acids are coming from.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and before protein is absorbed into the bloodstream from the digestive system, it breaks down into these individual units.
So whether you’re getting your leucine from soybeans or beef, it has the same muscle-building potential.
Myth #3. Unlike animal protein, most plant protein is so-called “incomplete” and doesn’t contain all of the essential amino acids.
Animal eaters out there will tell you that most plant foods lack one or more essential amino acids. This is flat out untrue. All plants that contain protein contain all nine essential amino acids.
However, some are lower in certain amino acids than others.
This is a long-standing myth that led to the outdated advice that people need to combine certain plant foods together at each meal in order to create “complete” proteins. For example, beans are high in lysine but low in methionine, while the reverse is true for grains.
So the old advice was always to eat beans and grains together.
We now know that foods don’t need to be combined at each meal to meet protein needs. Simply eating a varied plant-based diet and including legumes and grains every day will ensure you get enough of all of the amino acids that your body needs to function properly.
In fact, even broccoli would give you enough of all of the essential amino acids if you ate enough of it… although you’d be eating broccoli all day long to accomplish that goal.
Stick to 2-3 servings of legumes a day which is about 1 ½ cups and 3-4 servings of whole grains, and you’ll be good to go.
In fact, protein derived from plants is likely superior to that derived from animals.
Studies show that diets high in animal protein are at a higher risk of chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Meanwhile, plant protein doesn’t carry the same risk.
This is likely due to the other things found in sources of plant or animal protein. Plant protein is found in foods high in fiber and phytochemicals – both shown to prevent disease.
Animal protein is found with saturated fat, heme iron, and molecules known to form toxic compounds inside the body, like nitrosamines.
So now you see why the myths about plant-based protein are totally bogus.
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Weigh In: What other myths have you heard? Share them in the comments below!
Wow !! never thought of that.
I don’t understand. What’s the difference of assembling the complete protein per meal or per day? It seems the same to me. I am hoping to create a list of my preferred staples and what meals can be made from them. As a person who strives for routine in life’s day day activities, having a simple set of foods I can purchase every few days would simplify my wfpb diet into a routine. I’d only need to cook several meals from those staples, get my nutrition, and hooray! One less fuss in my life. Kinda like the late Steve Jobs and his same daily outfit. I have way less brains than he had and therefore even less to waste on these daily quandaries. This all seems so overly complicated and I find myself giving in to just avoiding it and eating out. Any insight toward my dilemma?
St Louis, Mo
Whitney E. RD says:
Totally get it – nutrition should be simple! You don’t need to worry about combining proteins at each meal, as long as you’re eating a few servings of legumes and whole grains every day you’ll get all the protein you need. Some staples I like to batch cook to mix and match with meals are baked tofu, beans, and quinoa.
I follow a plant-based diet but I’m gluten-intolerance. In this article, you mentioned about how each source of plant-based protein might have less of certain amino acid, so if I can’t get my proteins from wheat product does it mean I’m going to missed out on some of the amino acids more than others? If so is there any other food that can help with this missing component?
Please let me know, thank you:)
Thanks for this article, it was very helpful to read. I think that now many people can do something similar to improve their diet, or just think about the quality of the food they eat every day. Also, there is an option in sports nutrition like https://prorganiq.com/products/whey-protein that can help you get protein