Nutrition Update

Things have quiet down of nutrition talk. Hope those participating in the June challenge are still plugging away.

In doing more research for our "meatless" athletes. I came across a good website. Here is some brief tips to survive the protein search.

Vegetarian Paleo Diet Option #1: Eat lots of eggs Theoretically, one could eat lots of eggs and meet the protein requirements of the Paleo diet without eating any unauthorized foods.

One egg has about six grams of protein, so if they're going to be your primary source (lets say they'll provide 50% of your protein), you could be eating a dozen eggs a day.  Possible, but you'd better like eggs.

Vegetarian Paleo Diet Option #2: Allow hemp seed and grain-like seeds

The argument against grain-like seeds like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat is that they behave more like grains than like nuts.  While seeds like sunflower seeds contain mostly fat and protein with just a small amount of carbohydrates, these grain-like seeds contain mostly carbohydrate.

But carbohydrate isn't the only problem.  Grain-like seeds have other negative properties of grains: Quinoa, for example, "includes chemical defense systems that irritate the gut," according to an excerpt from Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution.

Option #2 is to allow these grain-like seeds in your diet to help you meet the Paleo diets protein requirements.  The bonus prize behind Door #2 is that quinoa can be used in cooking like rice, or even made into "pasta," so you'll gain some variety in your meals over those based on strict Paleo fare.

But let's not forget about our old friend hemp.  I've been unable to get a definitive answer to whether or not hempseed is considered "grain-like."  In terms of macronutrient content, it's more like a nut: high in protein and good fats, very low in carbohydrates.  If it's allowed, the inclusion of whole hempseeds and minimally processed hemp protein powder could provide enough protein to make the other deviations from the strict Paleo diet unnecessary.

Vegetarian Paleo Diet Option #3: Allow soaked or sprouted beans and legumes

To me, this seems like the easiest option, and perhaps the best.  "Easiest" in that it wouldn't represent a major change from the way many of us already eat, minus the grains.  "Best" in that allowing beans and legumes would provide us with about a dozen obvious sources of protein.

Though pre-agricultural man didn't eat beans (at all?), that's not the major issue most Paleos have with them.  Instead, it's the "antinutrients" in beans and other legumes, the enzyme inhibitors which make them inedible in their raw state and which may interfere with digestion even after cooking.

We can reduce the amounts of these antinutrients by soaking and sprouting legumes.  According to Tim Ferriss, who claims to eat a lot of lentils on his version of a Paleo diet, "Soaking for 24 hours at room temperature has been shown to remove 66% of the trypsin (protease) inhibitor activity in mung bean, 93% in lentil, 59% in chickpea, and 100% in broad bean."  Soaked beans should of course be well-cooked in order to make them non-toxic.

Sprouting goes a step farther in reducing the amounts of enzyme inhibitors, in addition to converting some of the starches into sugars, and proteins into amino acids.  Though some sprouts can be eaten raw, cooking them will eliminate more of the antinutrients.  For more on sprouting and related health issues (such as not eating toxic soybean and kidney bean sprouts), see a post from

All of this assumes, of course, that you're starting with dried beans.  The pre-cooked, canned versions won't do here.