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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 )
120 calories
1.5g fat
2g carbs
25g protein per SCOOP, 150g of protein per cup
= 4.8 calories per gram of protein

1 cup chopped Chicken breast
231 calories
5g fat
43g protein
= 5.3 calories per gram of protein

1 cup of Quinoia
233 calories
3.6g fat
39 carbs
8g protein
=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

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    This one is for Sassy - I really need the protein myself to maintain muscle mass and stabilize my blood sugar. I try to stick to equal caloric amounts of non-starchy carbs and healthy fats with a larger portion of the day's calories in lean protein. Lately I've been loving the convenience of Whey Protein Powder and Chicken Breast. emoticon
    1401 days ago
    Hey hun! This is a very informative blog! I've heard for years and seen many recipes that toot their horn for quinoa, and knowing the numbers is really interesting!

    You know my situation with the meds and stuff, so I was wondering if you may have any suggestions for me for cutting back my carbs. I managed to lose 5lbs in the past 3 weeks, which is great, but I'd like to lose a bit more, you know? Any suggestions would be helpful!
    1402 days ago
    I would like to cut my carbs some, and get more protein, I have about decided to just have a boiled egg in the evening, instead of another snack, and I guess I should think about more chicken breasts, minus the bread or crackers, this weight loss is non existent for me, and my doctor seems to think I should lose about 4 pounds which still keeps me in healthy but lower than I am now.
    1402 days ago
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