PreKure’s dietitian, Dr Caryn Zinn, talks to us about eating different sorts of protein – meats and plant-based protein – and some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding this.
A common misconception about low-carb, healthy fat (LCHF) and keto, is that you’ve got to be eating a lot of meat. That is definitely not the case. You certainly can eat a lot of meat if you want to, but you don’t necessarily have to.
Protein is a very important nutrient. It gives us satiety and it holds with it a lot of good nutrients that we need. We need to eat protein – it’s an essential nutrient. There are eight essential amino acids that we need to get from our diet. Where you choose to get your protein from is up to you. You can get it from meat. Some vegetarians eat fish, eggs and dairy products and get their protein from that, as well as plant sources. If you’re a plant-only eater, you’ll get your protein from plant sources, such as legumes, nuts and seeds, and also specialty foods, such as tempeh or tofu.
There’s no one way to guide people – it’s really about what your preferences are, what your needs are, and what your goals are. My advice is, if you are an omnivore – if you eat meat and plants – to vary the types of proteins that you have. I’m a big fan of getting as much fatty fish in your week as you can. Two to three days a week, try to get some salmon or mackerel or tuna in there, and then have some chicken, red meat, lamb or pork on the other days.
Eggs are a brilliant source of protein.
If you are a vegan, getting your protein from legumes and chickpeas would naturally give you a lot more carbohydrate. Going more towards foods like tofu and tempeh would be a really good idea, because they give you lots of protein and very little carbohydrate.
Eggs are a brilliant source of protein. Not only are eggs considered the perfect protein with the complete complement of amino acids, but they also have a lot of important nutrients, like Omega-3s, and particularly choline, which is really good for brain health.
Can I eat too many eggs if I’m a vegetarian who eats eggs? I don’t think eating too many eggs should be on anyone’s radar. The myth of reducing eggs for cholesterol – that line of thought has been stopped in its tracks quite a while ago. Eggs are celebrated and should be celebrated as an important protein source.
But can you eat too many eggs? Well, if you eat 20 eggs a day, that would be too many, just like you can eat too much of anything. If you’re eating six kilos of fish or meat a day, that’s too much of it. But anywhere between 2-4 eggs in a meal, for example an omelette or poached, boiled or fried eggs, would be absolutely fine. If you want to have eggs twice a day, you can do that.
Bottom-line – I would recommend varying your protein. So, if you’re having eggs, for example, in an omelette in the morning, then maybe you can look at a different protein source, such as fish or meat, or a plant source, to put in your lunch and your dinner meal.
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We put some of the most common nutrition questions to Dr Caryn Zinn and Prof Grant Schofield. Click the links below to learn more.
Cut through all the nonsense and get science-based nutrition knowledge, tools and confidence. Dr Caryn Zinn is the instructor of the short course PK102: Nutrition as Medicine.
Take your nutrition knowledge to the next level. Together with Prof Grant Schofield, Dr Caryn Zinn teaches the Certificate in Advanced Nutrition.