Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Raw Vegan "Protein Grenades" Help Keep My Husband Strong!

by Kristen Suzanne in hemp protein, sun warrior rice protein
How many of you have heard it before (especially from men)… “BUT, WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN WITH THAT DIET?”

Or… perhaps the #1 thing that deters men from trying a vegan diet: I’M AFRAID I’LL LOSE MY MUSCLE.”


Well, let me tell you… YES, it can be done. My husband is living proof. Muscle isn’t reserved for only the meat-heads. Just look around in nature and see the massive strength in herbivorous animals such as horses, gorillas, buffalo, elephants, hippopotamus, and more. News Flash to the Doubting Omnivores…. yes, you can build muscle with the proper plant based foods and some work in the gym. Let me take a step further. I’m not just referring to a vegan diet with cooked proteins; this can be done with a High Raw (or All Raw), All Vegan diet. You don’t see elephants and horses grilling up their leaves or sauteeing their twigs, right?

So… how can it be done?
Well, let me share with you some details about my husband and his experience. My husband follows along with my raw vegan diet (we go back and forth between all raw and high raw). However, he wasn’t always a vegan (read about our beginnings here in my post To Date or Not to Date a Carnivore). But, he is now. His answer when people ask about the way he eats and whether he misses meat, “Are you kidding? My wife is a Raw Vegan chef. I live like a movie star… I look up from my computer when I’m working, and there is a plate full of amazing food! We want to live long healthy lives together, and this is the way to do it.”

But it took some convincing initially. When my husband first started looking into the plant-based diet with me, he did his own research (he’s very sciency). He did his own reading, not only into the health aspects of raw and vegan food, but he also seriously questioned whether he’d be able to maintain his muscle mass and strength on this diet. And not just maintain it, but actually he wanted to get bigger and stronger, despite being 38 at the time. It had always been hard for him to put on muscle. Prior to meeting me, through trial and error, he had figured out that, for his ectomorphic body type, he needed a lot of protein to add mass which he derived almost exclusively from whey protein shakes. So, I promised him we’d make it happen, one way or another with plenty or raw and vegan foods. If he needed protein, I’d give him protein. Only now he would be consuming clean, efficient, non-cancer-promoting protein. None of that nasty, acidic animal based protein that burns dirty and can make you tired… not to mention, ehem… unhealthy! Suffice it to say, he was excited… but with so few role models, understandably skeptical.

The verdict? Plants work!! His strength has increased, and he can maintain (or gain mass) based on his diet and workout routine. In fact, after an involuntary hiatus brought on by a shoulder injury, he is now bench-pressing his lifetime personal best, using only plants as food!

So, how does he do it specifically? It’s a pretty simple formula that works for him. Dedication. Working out. Extra protein (much of which is from protein shakes). He strength trains about 5 days a week. And… he’s in awesome shape.

When researching vegan proteins, I came across some excellent information in Brendan Brazier’s book, Thrive. In it, he describes how to get an optimal ratio of essential amino acids from plant sources. Specifically, a mixture of hemp protein, brown rice protein, and pea protein. Through the Vega product line, Brendan sells a protein powder blend that consisted of those proteins. (Update 8/17/11: I don’t care for the taste of the Whole Food Health Optimizer line from Vega, but we do like the Sport Performance and Shake & Go lines.) I decided to make my own blends and researched ways to make my own custom mixture of proteins using Brendan’s ideas to get me started.

Enter: Raw Vegan “Protein Grenades.” What are Raw Vegan Protein Grenades? They are mini glass mason filled jars filled with one pre-mixed shake’s worth of Raw Vegan protein powders. Just dump into a shaker cup, add water, and shake! Each Grenade is pre-mixed to contain an optimal amino acid profile — all from plant-based proteins. The recipe varies slightly from week to week, because I like to change it up for fun. Some of the different elements are included in the photo below (but I’m always trying new products so that photo doesn’t show it all), but you can get an idea of some of the goodies involved. Because there are some days when my husband drinks anywhere from 2 to 5 of these shakes (depending on what we’re doing, eating, or his workout routine and goals), I vary the ingredients accordingly. For example, if he is loading up and drinks 4-5 shakes in a day, then the amount of green powder and fruit powder will be about 1 teaspoon per Grenade. But if he only drinks 1-2 per day, then I increase the green powder and fruit powder in each one, so he ends up getting roughly the same amount of super mega phytonutrients. (I always make sure he gets a hellalotta nutrients in addition to protein.) 

Different Amounts For Different Goals: During periods when my husband is doing intense training and really getting lean, it can be common for him to drink up to 4-5 Raw Vegan Protein Grenades daily plus he’ll eat one meal, usually a huge organic salad loaded with veggies alongside a cooked vegan protein (beans, lentils, soy, or Gardein), or sometimes it’s an all-raw vegan dinner like lasagna, tacos, or zucchini pasta marinara. When gaining strength or mass isn’t his goal… meaning that he is in a maintenance phase without the intense training schedule, then he usually drinks 1-2 Protein Grenades a day, and eats about 2 meals which are moderate to high raw, plus snacks as he desires (some examples of snacks he likes: fresh green juice, green smoothies, sprouted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, sprouts, raisins, hemp seeds, prunes, fruit, etc). And, of course, there are some days where he skips the Grenades altogether, and his diet is filled with delicious raw and vegan whole foods. It varies based on his goals at the time, but the bottom line is that because of this super easy Grenade innovation, he can be very flexible yet consistently get plenty of protein.

The Assembly Line: To make life easy on myself, I make up a bunch of Raw Vegan Protein Grenades every few days. I do it in an assembly line fashion. It’s actually fun. If my husband has meetings outside of the home for the day, then he takes a bag of Grenades along with a shaker bottle and water, and he’s all set. Each Protein Grenade has roughly 40-45 grams of pure, raw, vegan, potent protein. If it’s true that raw vegan protein is assimilated better than cooked protein, then you can imagine how powerful these Grenades really are.

Here is a list of items that might be included (not all at once, although many make an appearance):

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