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Balancing Vegetarian Meals


Combining high-quality sources of food that deliver all three macronutrients necessary for life?-?amino acids, fatty acids, and simple carbohydrates?-?will greatly increase energy by conserving it through digestive ease.

Combining high-quality sources of food that deliver all three macronutrients necessary for life–amino acids, fatty acids, and simple carbohydrates–will greatly increase energy by conserving it through digestive ease.

In other words, if the body isn’t burning energy to digest our food, we can use that energy for something else.

Accessing Amino Acids

There are around 20 amino acids needed for human health. Although not all experts agree on the numbers, between eight to 11 of them are considered essential, meaning that they must be obtained through diet as the body cannot manufacture them. Nonessential amino acids, also necessary for human health, can be manufactured within the body.

Proteins must first be broken down into amino acids before the body can utilize them. This process results in energy expenditure. By choosing foods that are amino acid-rich, we can reduce the amount of work the body must perform before using them.

Sprouting nuts, seeds, and legumes is an excellent way to convert their protein content into easily accessible amino acid form. Leafy green vegetables are also high in amino acids. Many leafy green vegetables contain from 15 to 30 percent protein–in amino acid form. Since amino acids are already in a form easily assimilated by the body, not as high a quantity needs to be consumed; some experts suggest that less protein can be eaten, if in amino acid form.

Converting Carbohydrates

True grains are complex carbohydrates and take a large amount of energy to break down.

Carbohydrates in starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, and pasta are also not directly usable by the body in the form in which they are found in foods.

Complex carbohydrates must be broken down into simple carbohydrates before they can be used to provide energy. Energy, however, must be expended to convert complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates. By eating healthy sources of simple carbohydrates such as fruit, the body will conserve energy by skipping this conversion process. Those who are concerned with an insulin spike from eating simple carbohydrates can get their carbs from pseudo grains (see below).

Finding the Right Fats

Fat, too, must be broken down–into fatty acids–before it can be utilized. Fatty acids include essential fatty acids (EFAs), ones that the body cannot build and must therefore be obtained through our diets. Two of these EFAs, omega-3 and omega-6, are easily obtained from hemp, flax, Salba, and other nuts and seeds. When possible, sprouting these nuts and seeds is ideal.

All Together Now

Pseudo grains (which are technically seeds), such as amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, and wild rice, can also be easily sprouted. In the transitional state between seed and plant, they provide an excellent source of amino acids, simple carbohydrates, and fatty acids.

Another easy way to combine all three into a balanced meal or snack is to make a daily fruit smoothie. The fruit provides the simple carbohydrate. Adding hempseeds, sprouted flaxseeds, and green food powders for amino and fatty acids will deliver the highest-quality nutrition.



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Leah PayneLeah Payne