Understanding Tofu

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It’s been misunderstood, demonized and unnecessarily avoided. Tofu is an excellent source of protein and also fiber, the latter being greatly insufficient in most people’s diets.

what

So what is tofu? Tofu is a food prepared by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into solid white blocks of varying softness. High in iron, calcium, magnesium, and low in calories, it is a food that has been around for thousands of years. It’s a staple in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other southeast Asia country’s cuisine. It also comes in several forms: silken, soft, medium, firm and extra firm texture. Having a very subtle flavour, tofu will take on the flavours of the foods it is cooked with. Also because of the subtle flavour it can be used in desserts such as vegan cheesecake (no cheese needed) and remain undetectable. Just 100 grams of tofu contains 8 grams of protein, 35% of daily requirements for calcium, 30% of daily iron requirements, and has only 76 calories.

Tempeh is another way to get soy into your diet. Where tofu is prepared from soy milk, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans. You’ll find tempeh more flavourful then tofu as it has a nutty profile to it.

Tofu can often get a bad wrap in cultures that associate eating meat with masculinity. Who hasn’t heard the term soy boy used to emasculate men who are on the left of political and social views. Tofu is looked at as a ‘hippie’ food while meat, especially beef, will always be used to sell beer in a commercial showing the guys getting together on the weekend. Which is ironic since a number of studies show that the higher consumption of beef can lead to the decline in testosterone levels in men while consuming tofu does not have this effect. It’s not surprising considering that when you are eating meat you are eating not just the meat you can chew but also consuming the hormones that make up the cow it came from; estrogen, and progesterone.

There is also the fear that soy consumption will increase the risk of breast cancer in women because of the levels of phytoestrogen (phyto refers to plants) but studies have shown that consuming soy reduces the risk of breast cancer and also lowers the risk of death from women whom have breast cancer. Let’s look at the following: “Researchers calculated all-cause mortality for those women diagnosed with breast cancer eating soy, or not eating soy. And those eating soy cut their risk of dying by 50%! So, not only does soy prevent breast cancer, but women with breast cancer eating soy live longer.

To get tofu into your diet it can be as easy as adding it to your stir frys, or soup (chunks of tofu in miso soup is very nice). Another option is to marinate it and put it into an air fryer. It’s very versatile. Are you vegan and miss scrambled eggs? Make yourself a tofu scramble using soft tofu while adding red pepper, onions, garlic. Key thing to remember is that tofu is comprised of a fair amount of water and you’ll want to press out that water before cooking with it.

finally

Tofu is a processed food so do not go overboard with it. It’s always a great idea to have variety with the foods we eat so treat it in that manner. And be sure to purchase only non-GMO tofu or tempeh. Embrace it, don’t be scared of it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

the best and safest treasure to acquire

I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.

Are you getting the amount of protein your body needs to maintain the amount of muscle you have and to facilitate repairing and building new muscle cells? Do you know how much protein you need to achieve this?

I think that’s a good place to start. Knowing how much protein you need. It may be correct to say that the majority of people do not get an adequate amount of protein daily. We get most of our protein during our main meal times, lunch, dinner, and maybe breakfast. If you are snacking outside of these meals, it’s probably on a snack that is high in carbs and low in protein. But let’s get back to how much protein we need.

It’s not a constant

The amount of protein we need to maintain our body is partially influenced by our activity level. Health.com reports that an active woman needs .6 grams of protein per pound of body weight. A light body builder (not sure what that is) would need .85 grams per pound of body weight.

But exactly what defines what a light body builder is? And using your body weight is also not a true reflection of the amount of muscle you have. The amount of bone and fat one 120lb woman could be significantly higher than another woman. Also, your activity level, intensity level when working out, and whether you are an endurance type athlete all play a role in how much protein you need. Many things influence this number.

I guess what I’m saying is there isn’t a number that fits everyone. It varies from person to person. Whenever you come across recommended amounts for anything be it protein, vitamins, etc. it is a general recommendation, not an analysis and finding of what you need. I recently had my vitamin D level tested to know if I was getting an adequate amount. I have been supplementing my vitamin D taking 5,000 IU’s a day. I have been doing this for a couple of years. The results of my blood test showed that I am in the lower end of what is acceptable. Now, if I were to follow Health Canada’s recommended dietary allowance I should be taking 600 IU’s a day. A significant difference!

So what do I recommend for protein amounts? Start with a recommended amount based on your activity level. See how that works for you. Look for signs that you might not be getting enough protein, signs such as slow recovery from injuries, broken nails and losing hair, you seem to be losing muscle instead of maintaining muscle or gaining muscle.

If you have any of these signs you may want to look at some ways to increase your amount of protein intake.

Be creative

If you feel you are already getting enough protein from your meals, then you should look at what you eat outside of your meals. But if you aren’t consuming enough from your meals than you need to start there.

Let’s look at someone who weights 120lbs and how the protein requirements can be achieved.

120lbs X .85 grams (this person is very active) = 102 grams needed daily.

Let’s take breakfast, lunch and dinner and approximate that 25 grams of protein are consumed at each of these meals. Is that high? Let’s look at what we can eat that equals 25 grams of protein:

Breakfast:           1 cup of oatmeal – 6 grams

250 ml serving of almond milk – 1 gram

2 pieces of toast with peanut butter (1 tablespoon on each) – 12 grams

1 ounce of almond nuts = 6 grams

For a total of 25 grams

Lunch:                   ½ cup black beans = 8 grams

½ cup tofu – 10 grams

Avocado – 3 grams

100 grams wild rice – 4 grams

For a total of 26 grams

Dinner:               ½ cup Quinoa or similar grain – 12 grams

6 spears of asparagus – 3 grams

1 cup broccoli – 3 grams

½ cup chick peas – 8 grams

For a total of 26 grams

 

That’s 77 grams of protein from 3 meals. Pretty achievable I think. How can we make up the remaining 25 grams? An easy way would be a protein shake. Based on how you make your shake, adding almond butter, peanut butter or any other source of protein you could be getting anywhere from 20 to 30 grams of protein.

Think of snacking on foods high in protein. Hemp hearts have 10 grams of protein per serving of 3 tablespoons. And hemp is a complete protein meaning that it has all the amino acids our body cannot produce but need to get from food. If the essential amino acids are not coming from food, they’ll come from your own muscle. Yes, your body will do that to you.

Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein and they also have beneficial fat. Fat, that substance we are supposed to avoid, right? Not really. Our body needs fat, healthy fats. 1 ounce of cashews has 5 grams of protein.

Make yourself protein bars that you can snack on when needed. Since you have control over the process you can control the amount of each ingredient lessening the amount of sugar, etc. The unfortunate part is it could be hard to know the total amount of protein per serving. You might have to determine how much of each ingredient is in each bar and calculate from there.

If you are looking for a way to increase the amount of protein in your meals, it could be as simple as adding a plain protein powder to the meal. Adding protein to your pancake mix can do this. Or, add nuts and seeds to your cereal or on your salad.

If you are someone who doesn’t consume animal products try to consume foods that provide a balance of all the amino acids required. Something as simple as a peanut butter sandwich using whole wheat bread will fill that need.

Best intentions

By no means am I trying to make this seem complicated. It may seem that way, or overwhelming. I agree with you, it is overwhelming. But, there is a lot to gain by understanding what you are eating. You are already someone who is taking the time to train, to workout. Our body needs protein to repair itself and to grow. It’s really that simple.

Think of it like this. You go to the grocery store, you load up the cart. At the checkout you pay your money. You leave the checkout and you are stopped by store staff who start removing items from your cart. 20% of what you just purchased has been taken away, no longer yours.

We can’t necessarily see that same impact to our body because it’s hard to understand where you could be. We only see where we are not always knowing we could be that much further ahead.

Give yourself that 20%. Hold onto it and don’t let it go.

Yours in health,

Darryl