How Much Protein do I Actually Need?

How Much Protein do I Actually Need?

Having gone vegetarian way back in the mid-90s before it was more socially normal to do so, I think I’ve been asked about the adequacy of my protein consumption roughly a bajilion times.

tofu prep

Now, I know people who have asked usually do so with good intentions, but I’ve always found it a wee bit odd everyone is suddenly a concerned nutrition expert when I tell them I don’t eat meat and like fruit, but people rarely feel the authority to directly express concern to people who live off fast food and soda pop.

Anyways, I digress…you’d think the Protein questions would have slowed as vegetarian and veganism have popularized over the years, but with the new market-focus on protein protein protein, the Qs keep coming.

So, I thought I’d type up a quick post about how much protein you actually need.

Disclaimer: As always, this is general information intended for healthy, non-pregnant or breastfeeding adults. Your needs may vary based on medical status or life-stage. Please never replace generalized health information you’ve read online with individualized clinical care.

So, how much protein do you need?

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According to the Institute of Medicine, protein should make up between 10-35% of your total caloric intake (with carbohydrates accounting for 45-65% calories and fats accounting for 20-35% of calories).

As you can see, there is a wide range of what is considered a ‘healthful’ amount of protein. I always say this, but I’ll mention it again here: there are many different ways you can have a healthy diet. No one way is the best way, and you gotta do what works for you.

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How Studying Nutrition Changed The Way I Eat

How Studying Nutrition Changed The Way I Eat

Back in the day, I got my master’s degree in human nutrition from Columbia University. It was an intense, interesting, and rewarding experience: one that left me hungry (no pun intended) to learn more about the field. A pivotal experience, my MS in human nutrition instilled an insatiable scientific curiosity in me, and is probably why I’m on the path I am on today.

I chose to study nutrition because I was always fascinated in how the foods we use to fuel our body have the power to impact our health. For many, many, years, however, I wanted to be a doctor. However, when I was shadowing physicians, I realized many lacked nutrition education and training.

Which totally is not their fault – most medical schools have minimal time/curriculum devoted to nutrition. But when I learned about this reality, I wanted to ensure I’d have a solid foundation of nutrition (outside the nutrition minor I got while at NYU) in addition to a medical degree. And so, I enrolled at Columbia prior to going to med school.

Obviously, I’ve gone a none-medical route since, but since I’ve studied the topic, I occasionally get asked questions about nutrition, specific ingredients, my diet, and how I think others should eat.

So I thought it may be interested to list out how I’ve changed my diet since studying nutrition. Below are 12 ways studying nutrition morphed how I eat and how I think about food and health in general.

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Hunger vs Appetite, and Fullness vs Satisfaction

Hunger vs Appetite, and Fullness vs Satisfaction

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “Gosh darn it, when did eating get so complicated?” Because it really shouldn’t be. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and it’s if you’re feeling any confusion, it’s certainly not your fault.

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We live in a food and weight loss-obsessed culture. Without even trying, we’re exposed to numerous food and fitness ads, ideas, and theories on a daily basis. They’re everywhere: the internet, social media feeds, TV commercials, even tabloids in the aisle at the grocery store.

All of these tidbits of information can be overwhelming. And oftentimes, to confuse things further, we hear opposing “facts” about the same topics. This encourages us to disengage with our natural eating instincts, and ignore our internal cues regarding hunger and fullness.

Today, I wanted to address a few words/concepts that may help you get back in touch with how to eat like an actual instinctual human rather than a confused oversaturated-with-misinformation human. Let’s go.

Hunger vs Appetite:

Vegan Cookie Levain Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

These words are often used interchangeably, but actually have different meanings in the nutrition science world. Physical hunger is defined by the physiological need for food. This may manifest itself as a rumbly tummy, empty-feeling stomach, low energy, and/or inability to concentrate. I know for me personally, I feel light-headed when I need to eat. But everyone is different.

Physical hunger is a result of blood glucose dropping in your body. When this happens, and your stomach is empty, a hormone called ghrenlin is released by your GI tract, sending a signal to your brain to increase gastric (stomach) acid and let your brain know “Hey! You up there! I need food!”

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Ghrenlin stops being released when food enters the stomach, letting your brain know that the need for food has been taken care of.

Appetite, on the other hand, is a desire to eat, less from a physical need, and more as a result of physical or environmental cues, such as the smell of freshly baking cookies, routines, and/or the desire to eat the doughnuts in front of you at a meeting even though you may be physically full.

If you eat in a very rigid, routine-style fashion, you may develop appetite to eat out of habit, kind of like a dog (#relatable).

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Everything You Need to Know about Cancer and French Fries

Everything You Need to Know about Cancer and French Fries

By now, you’ve probably come across an article on your social feed about how French fries or fried potatoes in general are causing cancer. If not, congrats. The blissfully ignorant state of not knowing about the potential harm of over consuming fried potatoes means your life is probably less anxiety-ridden than my own (oh, and sorry for bursting that bubble of cozy comfort with this post. Feel free to stop reading right now if you’d like).

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Anyways, I’ve gotten a lot of Qs about this topic, so I thought I’d address it here. As a potato-finatic and food tox and food safety enthusiast, this issue hits close to home and is one I wanted to examine for myself. This topic actually came up in food tox before I saw it trending all over social media, so I was happy to have a solid grip on the science before all the media hype surrounding it.

So, let’s dive into the nitty starchy gritty: potatoes, French fries, and acrylamide: what you need to know about the risks, and how to minimize your own.

Ps: I had been pausing blogging, not by choice, but out of circumstance, as when I tried to transfer hosting sites, my site was kind of MIA from the internet for over a week…talk about anxiety-inducing. Oy.

Anyways, now that I’ve got my site back, I’m going to work with a different company on transferring the site (because I’ve got bigger and better things planned) and in the meantime keep chugging along here.

So what’s the risk? Are my potatoes and grains giving me cancer?

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Acrylamide does not appear to be of concern in raw foods themselves; it seems to be formed when certain starchy foods are cooked at high temps.

So the risk does not lie necessarily in the potatoes or grains per se, so don’t think you have to instantly ban potatoes from your household. The risk is actually from the acrylamide that develops upon high heat cooking of the potatoes (usually above 250°F).

What is acrylamide?

Easy Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

Acrylamide is a chemical compound found in a lot of industrial production. It’s also found in cigarette smoke. It’s also in many foods, including canned black olives, potato chips, French fries, dark browned toast, coffee, prune juice, and some breakfast cereals.

Acrylamide can also form in some foods as a result of the amino acid asparagine being heated to high temperatures in the presence of certain sugars. This is what happens when potatoes are fried in hot oil. Potatoes happen to have high levels of asparagine, hence the recent concern about french fries, acrylamide and cancer.

Baking and roasting can also lead to acrylamide formation. Generally speaking, the longer and hotter the cooking method, the more acrylamide is likely to form. Boiling and steaming do not typically lead to acrylamide formation.

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What You Need To Know about Vitamin B-12, Especially if You’re Vegan

What You Need To Know about Vitamin B-12, Especially if You’re Vegan

It’s funny. When people find out you’re vegan or vegetarian, suddenly everyone and their mother becomes your nutritionist, wondering if you get enough protein, if you take supplements and get enough Vitamin B-12, and if you’re malnourished and falling over yet, etc.

No one bats at eye or comments at people who sustain themselves off pizza, burgers, fries, and chips, but so many feel entitled to scrutinize the nutrient-content of plant-based diets.

But I digress. This post is about the main nutrient of concern for vegetarians and vegans. No, it’s not protein (which in fact, most people over-consume). It’s Vitamin B-12. If you’re vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, have chronic bowel issues, and/or are over the age of 50, you should assess and consider if you are getting enough vitamin B-12.

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I don’t very often flex my MS in nutrition muscles on the blog. I always intend to, but I find my brain so exhausted of academic/science writing from school that much of the time the blog is filled with recipe and lifestyle posts because those are fun and relaxing to write.

But I really do want to make an effort to communicate more nutrition info here on kbaked.com. Let me know if you like this kind of content and/or what other topics you’d like to see covered! Without further adieu…here’s what you need to know about Vitamin B-12.

What is Vitamin B-12?

Vitamin B-12 (also known as cobalamin) is a water-soluble vitamin and was the last vitamin discovered. It’s found in various forms, including cyanocobalamin (often found in supplements and fortified food), as well as methylcoablamin (a methylated form) found in animal products.

Cyanocobalamin needs to me methylated for your body to make use of it. Both are well-absorbed, and it’s currently unknown if there’s a “better” or more bioavailable form to consume.

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