QUINOA - lean gluten free vegan protein or whole grain hype??
Thursday, April 24, 2014
I just heard a health minded friend raving about the super lean protein in QUINOA, so I had to check it out. Like me, she is trying to find lower calorie sources of protein. While I am happy to fill up on clean meat, dairy, and eggs, she prefers to get her protein primarily from VEGAN sources. I learned something about vegan protein caring for my vegetarian mom who was also a diabetic - and it was TOUGH to get enough protein in her to stabilize her blood glucose. We ended up resorting to supplementing with chocolate flavored powdered whey protein mixed into warm milk. Thankfully that 'protein coco' was just what we needed to stabilize her blood sugar and bring an 85 lb woman up to a healthy 107 lbs. I also learned how lean protein could also be applied to weight loss. As I have come to understand it, weight loss is a lot like body building - you want to maintain or build your muscle mass while burning off the excess fat. This requires choosing 'nutrient dense foods', that means you get maximum nutrition per calorie. This is especially true of PROTEIN. Protein not only satisfies your hunger, it's the nutrient that can maintain, or even BUILD muscle tissue. Muscle mass is just what you want to get and STAY lean and healthy. All this buzz about quinoa made me wonder just how good a protein source it really is. So I looked up it's nutrition profile on several nutrition sites AND in a library book. Turns out it does indeed have plenty of protein, 24g per cup of cooked quinoa, which is great for a vegan source...but it is absolutely LOADED with calories, fat, and carbohydrates! No WONDER so many health food oficiondos have had trouble losing that little bit of tummy - QUINOA is NOT a low calorie weight loss food at ALL!! True, it has a decent amount of protein for a vegetarian food, but the only other nutrients it has worth counting are carbohydrates, potassium and fiber. NOT what I'd call 'Nutrient Dense'. I have lined up vegetarian and lean animal protein sources below along with a nutrition profile and how many calories you get with your single gram of protein. 'NUTRIENT DENSE' means you get more protein per calorie. From my calculations though it is definitely a 'processed food', Whey powder is the richest source of super low fat and carb protein, and skinless chicken breast is right behind it. But for vegan sources of protein, quinoa is a pretty good bet - much better than the much-lauded TOFU.
Whey Powder - one scoop (maybe 1/6 of a cup )
25g protein per SCOOP, 150g of protein per cup
= 4.8 calories per gram of protein
1 cup chopped Chicken breast
= 5.3 calories per gram of protein
1 cup of Quinoia
=29.1 calories per gram of protein
Tofu - 17.6 calories per gram of protein
Eggs, boiled - 22.33 calories per gram of protein
Pinto beans - 28.3 calories per gram of protein, and over 30g net carbs (total carbs minus indigestible fiber) this stuff is almost fattening as quinoa