What Is a Good Alternative to Grains? | Q+A

What Is a Good Alternative to Grains? | Q+A

Question:

What is a good alternative to grains as a way to complement the protein in legumes? Legumes are nutrient dense in many ways, including protein. But legume protein is low in methionine, an amino acid that our bodies cannot make.  For this reason legumes have traditionally been combined with grains, which are high in methionine.  Grains are low in another amino acid our bodies cannot make, lysine.  Legumes are high in lysine.  For this reason, legume and grain proteins are said to be complimentary. But if I am considering a long term dietary shift away from grains, I cannot be reassured by that. We still need to combine our proteins well over the course of several days. Unfortunately, grains are not a nutrient dense food. They are very high in starch and low in phytonutrients. So, what are some nutrient dense sources of methionine and cysteine?  Or, in simpler terms, what is a good alternative to grains as a way to compliment legume protein?

– Benjamin H.

Answer:

Vegan diets do tend to be low in methionine1, one of the essential amino acids. Interestingly enough, it’s actually proposed that a lower methionine intake is better for longevity1.

The World Health Organization recommends the adult dietary requirement is 10.4 mg of methionine per kg body weight per day to cover obligatory oxidative loses2. Whereas the US Recommended Dietary Allowances combine the methionine requirement with cysteine (a non-essential amino acid) for a total of 19 mg combined of methionine and cysteine/kg/day3. In plant foods, there are about equal amounts of methionine and cysteine.

“Wheat and rice proteins are comparatively low in lysine but better sources of methionine whereas beans and peas are relatively high in lysine yet in lower methionine.” — www.vegsoc.org/protein

Here are selected non-grain plant foods highest in methionine, given in common portions/(gram weight) with corresponding protein content4:

 

Brazil nuts, dried

Soybeans, boiled

Chia seeds, dried

White beans, canned

Sunflower seed kernels, dry roasted

Russet potato, baked w/ skin

Chickpeas/Garbanzo, canned

Peanuts, Spanish

Red potato, baked w/ skin

Spinach, cooked

Coconut milk, canned

Peaches, dried

Turnip greens, cooked from frozen

Corn kernels, cooked from frozen

Avocado, California

Spinach, boiled

Brown mushrooms, raw

Broccoli, cooked chopped

Raw seaweed spirulina

Asparagus, cooked

Zucchini

Cauliflower

Spinach, raw

373 mg in ¼ C (33g)

192 mg in ½ C (86g)

167 mg in 1 oz (28 g)

143 mg in ½ C (131g)

134 mg in ¼ C (32g)

123 mg in large 3-4” (299g)

118 mg in ½ C (127g)

117 mg in ¼ C (36g)

105 mg in large 3-4” (299g)

99 mg in 1 C (180g)

86 mg in 1 C (226g)

70 mg in ½ C (80g)

62 mg in ½ C (82g)

59 mg in ½ C (70g)

48 mg in 1 fruit (130g)

49 mg in ½ C (90g)

42mg in 1 C (87g)

34 mg in ½ C (78g)

33 mg in 1 oz (28 g)

31 mg in ½ C (90g)

18 mg in ½ C (116mg)

16 mg in ½ C (62g)

16 mg in 1 C (30g)

4.75 g protein

15.5 g protein

4.5 g protein

9.5 g protein

6 g protein

8 g protein

9 g protein

9.5 g protein

7 g protein

5 g protein

4.5 g protein

3 g protein

2.5 g protein

2.5 g protein

2.5 g protein

2.75 g protein

2 g protein

2 g protein

2 g protein

2 g protein

1 g protein

1 g protein

1 g protein

Our vegetarian audience may also be interested in a thorough discussion at  http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/protein and some of our previous articles below for protein information.

References:

  1. The low-methionine content of vegan diets may make methionine restriction feasible as a life extension strategy. McCarty MF, Barroso-Aranda J, Contreras F. Medical Hypotheses. 2009 Feb;72 (2):125-8.
  2. Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition. United Nations University/World Health Organization. 2007 WHO technical report no. 935.
  3. Chapter E: DRI Values for Indispensable Amino Acids by LifeStage and Gender Group. The National Academies press. 2006 Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements.
  4. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


 

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Ways to Ward Off Catabolism of the Body | Q+A

Ways to Ward Off Catabolism of the Body | Q+A

Question:

I have heard much talk on the internet about the need for serious bodybuilders to take in nutrition steadily, especially protein. It is claimed that muscle growth slows and reverses at night after digestion completes and the body starts catabolizing for energy. Many suggest using a slow-digesting protein such as casein at night to feed muscles protein constantly and ward off catabolism. Is this shown to be effective? If so, are there any other ways to reduce catabolism at night?

– David G.

Answer:

You posed a unique question, David! The body’s skeletal muscle not only dictates much of our circadian rhythm but also follows a day/night routine for repair and building. Research shows that muscle impacts the gene activity that regulates the utilization and storage of substrates (the macronutrients carbohydrate, fat, and protein)1. In other words, the skeletal muscle itself affects catabolic and anabolic processes over a 24-hour period, though this effect is not well understood.

Regardless of the time on the clock, you need to consume macronutrients post-exercise to promote positive muscle-protein balance. For evening exercisers, a recovery meal or shake becomes key before fasting overnight during sleep2. Over 6-8 hours, slower-digesting proteins have a similar effect on muscle protein synthesis as fast-digesting proteins do in the first 3 hours. So grandma was right about having a glass of warm milk before bed, as milk is 80% casein.

What about supplements/amino acids? Though certain essential amino acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis more than others, intact protein may result in a greater positive balance. This is partly because whole foods result in a greater insulin secretion. Muscles are highly insulin-sensitive for nutrient uptake and storage3. In summary, a meal containing protein is better than a straight supplement in the evening.

References

  1. The endogenous molecular clock orchestrates the temporal separation of substrate metabolism in skeletal muscle. Brian A Hodge et al. Skeletal Muscle. 2015; 5: 17.
  2. Influence of Amino Acids, Dietary Protein, and Physical Activity on Muscle Mass Development in Humans. Kasper Dideriksen, Søren Reitelseder, and Lars Holm. Nutrients. 2013 Mar; 5(3): 852–876.
  3. The Role of Circadian Rhythms in Muscular and Osseous Physiology and Their Regulation by Nutrition and Exercise. Shinya Aoyama and Shigenobu Shibata. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2017; 11: 63.

.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


 

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Multivitamin Recommendations | Q+A

Multivitamin Recommendations | Q+A

Question:

I am so confused about reading so much information on which multivitamin to take or not to take. Is there a multivitamin that you would recommend for a woman 50+ years older? I am in menopause and did look at a vitamin for women 50+ and older.

– Mary F.

Answer:

I agree – there are so many brands for so many concerns! Age is one factor to consider. Diseases you’re at risk for are another aspect. What micronutrients* might be lacking in your diet is another. Menopausal women should focus on adequate B-complex vitamins, Vitamin D3, and magnesium. If you eat well, it’s possible you get enough of these from natural sources and fortified foods daily. But if you just want to cover the bases as an insurance, then a multivitamin/mineral that includes these would be fine. If your diet is all over the place with no consistency and poor nutrient quality, I’d go for a higher potency multivitamin/mineral. And if you’re taking other supplements that include vitamins or minerals (such as a calcium-enriched protein drink), you may want to adjust how much of those nutrients to target from your multi.

No matter the brand, I’d recommend splitting the tablets between morning and night for optimal utilization. More constant delivery best mimics how your body uses micronutrients throughout the day. It would also be the most cost-effectiven use of your supplement so you’re not losing (in urine) what you’ve paid for. I’d choose one with a USP Verified mark, which indicates the company has followed good manufacturing processes to ensure their product contains the micronutrient levels stated on the package.

*Phytonutrients, probiotics, coenzyme Q10 and omega-3s are not vitamins or minerals, and can be supplemented separately.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


 

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Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

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Help With Yo-Yo Dieting | Q+A

Help With Yo-Yo Dieting | Q+A

Question:

I am struggling to achieve any kind of weight loss. I have yo-yoed with any diet I have been on, losing a few pounds and then gaining it completely back and then some. I just need some sort of guidance on what’s an achievable weight loss plan for a young 25 year old male. I am tired of the poor sleep, lack of motivation, breathing difficulties and overall fatigue I am facing because of my weight. BMI is 29 and as a medical student who is 2 years from becoming a doctor, a total embarrassment for my patients. I feel like a hypocrite educating patients on the importance of losing weight when I myself struggle. Any help would be appreciated.

– Kazi

Answer:

I applaud your resolve to improve your health both for yourself and as a role model for patients. Any specific diet suggestions I might have would be like throwing any antibiotics at an unknown infection. You need to identify the cause of your weight issues so you can employ the correct intervention. So… it sounds like you rebound with the diets you’ve tried. Why is that? Sometimes people cite lack of time or money as an issue causing them to revert to old habits. Other times people may not feel worthy and self-sabotage or comfort eat. Preparing healthy foods takes effort – it has to be a priority. YOU have to be a priority.  As you are currently suffering from some weight-related issues, now is the time to act before your BMI further increases.

My whole-hearted and professional opinion is that you need to find something that excites you that you’ll stick with. Seek out whatever physical activity you consider fun! I have seen people doing yoga on paddle boards on a lake in Minnesota. Think outside of the box for what you can include that isn’t just because you are “on a diet.” Same goes for foods. If salads aren’t your game, look for recipes to incorporate more fresh produce in unique ways. Maybe a tropical smoothie or an authentic stir-fry. Start with small improvements to the areas you know are a problem – desserts? alcoholic beverages? dining out? Tackle one item a week to gain success. Losing even 5 pounds to start may improve your breathing and fatigue. Feeling better should be your own positive feedback loop that no external motivation can provide.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


 

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Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Snacks to Keep You Feeling Full | Q+A

Snacks to Keep You Feeling Full | Q+A

Question:

Hello, I am a 25-year-old female who is a full-time student. I work out 3 times per week. I enjoy munching and crunching while I study, and always seem to be hungry. I was wondering what kinds of healthy snacks I can buy at the store? I must say that I have a hard time with portion control and am looking for something low in calories. I was eating a lot of nuts but seemed to gain weight with them.

– Tanya

Answer:

Frequent hunger may be a sign of either too few calories or, in your case, not enough volume. Filling the stomach triggers the vagus nerve that tells your brain you’ve eaten enough. A handful of nuts doesn’t provide the same amount of bulk that the following items do. Good low-calorie crunchy foods will fill you up better. Some examples include celery, carrots, jicama, radish, cucumber, sugar snap peas, bell pepper, apples, freeze dried fruit, air-popped popcorn, and rice cakes.  Adding a little dense energy (such as hummus, guacamole or cottage cheese) for satiety may be ideal. These combinations may provide a longer-lasting feeling of fullness.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


 

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Recommended Reading - Q+A

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