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This was the question I posed after listening to conflicting podcasts on what to eat to get the most out of each meal.

Vegetarian/ Vegan Diets

Benefits…

Negatives…

  • Negatives were lower B12 levels (brain and cognitive abilities)
  • Greater need for eating organic produce (amino acid profile)
  • can cause uncomfortable social situations

Meat/ Milk/ Cheese/ Egg Diets

Benefits…

  • grass-fed animals offer nutrients and proteins
  • quick weight loss on low carb/ high meat diet
  • greater social acceptance

Negatives…

Which way should we eat?

We faced a big dilemma here because we couldn’t refute all the proven benefits of eating a plant-based diet. We originally decided to eat a predominantly vegetable diet and limit our meat consumption to 1 meal per day. 

This worked out great and we immediately felt more energized throughout the day, had more regular digestive transitions, slept better and felt like our brains were more cognitively aware. 

As we continued our research and followed the scientific studies an interesting pattern developed that was not what we expected.

Plant-vs-disease-chartThe data continued to come to the conclusion that our life expectancy be much longer (7 – 10 years) but what wasn’t explained well was why and how the quality of our lives would be improved?

  1. we would live with less disease and inflammation
  2. we would process foods more quickly thereby not stressing our systems
  3. we would get more nutrients from our foods – improving our mitochondria health
  4. we would generate more energy to fuel our minds and bodies

How will we get our protein?

This was the primary question we had and our biggest hurdle to leap in regards to changing our dietary focus – and mental underestanding.

We had always been led to believe that we needed to get a certain amount of protein in our diets to perform at optimal levels and to build and maintain muscle mass.

Boy were we misinformed!

Have you ever delved into research on how our bodies utilize protein and how it is made? First read what we discovered. Then watch the video below for the clearest explanation on Protein and Amino Acids (information starts at around 8 minutes)

  1. Proteins are made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein. The sequence of amino acids determines each protein’s unique 3-dimensional structure and its specific function.
  2. There are five primary types of proteins:
  • Antibodies bind to specific foreign particles, such as viruses and bacteria, to help protect the body.
  • Enzymes carry out thousands of chemical reactions that take place in cells and form new molecules by interpreting our genetic DNA.
  • Messenger proteins, such as some types of hormones, transmit signals to coordinate biological processes between different cells, tissues, and organs.
  • Structural proteins provide structure and support for cells and allow the body to move.
  • Transport / Storage proteins bind and carry atoms and small molecules within cells and throughout the body.

Most important protein fact:

220px-Protein_primary_structure.svgEach of us is born with a certain protein structure. We do not need to eat “protein” per se but rather need to amino acids to bind (or link like a chain) our unique protein structure together to make it usable.

So what we need in our foods are the amino acids, not the proteins.  

Where do we get amino acids from?

Amino acids are found in plants and developed through the process of photosynthesis. When animals eat the plants they are ingesting the amino acids. These amino acids are broken down in their bodies and form links that bind their protein structures together.  

When we eat the animal meat we are eating their amino acid profiles. Yes, meat and animal based products do provide essential amino acids, but the problem is that they also contain toxins that are stored in their fat. It is both these toxins and the difficulty we have in digesting animal products that creates the inflammation and stress to our systems. 

Scientific research concludes that:

Vegetable sources provide all the amino acids (and protein links) we need to function optimally. 

There’s a lot of hype, scare tactics and misinformation that we ran into here on our search for the truth. Remember we came into this trying to prove that we needed to eat meat and animal products. We have left feeling the exact opposite.

What we looked for to get to the truth was who sponsored the studies – what we found was those who sponsored them had a vested interest in the results. Realistically we need to keep in mind that we are in a profit based society that will sway the truth to make money – do your research.

Here’s a link to a easy-to-understand article on what plants give the highest amino acid profiles:  The Real Deal on Amino Acids in a Plant-Based Diet

Here’s the link to the talk that gave the easiest to understand background on plant-based amino acids – good stuff starts around 8 minute mark 

 

Our Thoughts and Experiments

We gave up eating all meat products for 5 days. Felt more energetic and clear-headed, slept better and deeper, digestion was better and more regular.

Then we ate grass-fed chicken and beef for one meal a day for 5 days. Felt more sluggish, slept fitfully, digestion was irritable.

Not believing the results were due to meat and animal products – we conducted the experiment again and had other people do it as well.

Same results. Plus our glucose levels stayed lower and were less reactive to what we ate (even if it was something that caused a prior reaction such as dates, sweet potatoes and fruit!) And our ketones stayed at a regular level demonstrating that nutritional ketosis was still in effect and our brains were still utilizing ketones for energy. 

Final word – we are eating this way for the rest of our lives…which should be around 10 years longer!…because

  1. we have an amazing energy increase throughout the entire day
  2. we sleep better, more soundly and wake more rested
  3. we think more clearly and have improved memory
  4. our blood and bio markers are at the best levels of our lives
  5. we greatly decrease our chances of getting all diseases and cancers
  6. our hormones and testosterone levels are at their best levels
  7. most importantly…we are feeding our mitochondria what they need to function at their highest, healthiest levels