Being ripped is awesome. Simple: 3 protein shakes per day, have lean meat at every meal, and only eat carbs after an anaerobic workout exceeding 20 minutes. Those poor cave men. They didn't know all of this! Not to mention Power Gels weren't around yet for that quick energy boost when they had not caught their food for the day yet and started getting fatigued. Never fear, grab a handful of berries off of the nearest tree, rip up some roots from the ground, and get back on track with your persistence hunt of 26.8 miles so that the village can share some veil today before the meat spoils.

Even if you're good with a spear, it would be pretty challenging to procure your own meat at every meal before the days of farming, industry and refrigerators. Ok, you get the point. I'm not done writing this post yet, so I'm not going to tell you that there is enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats in a plant based diet to help you reach all of your superhuman fitness goals. Instead I would like to propose that we figure it out together and see what the results are, because I would like to know too.

First, let's talk about protein:

Proteins are described as essential and nonessential proteins or amino acids. The human body requires approximately 20 amino acids for the synthesis of its proteins. The body can make only 13 of the amino acids -- these are known as the nonessential amino acids. They are called non-essential because the body can make them and does not need to get them from the diet. There are 9 essential amino acids that are obtained only from food, and not made in the body. If the protein in a food supplies enough of the essential amino acids, it is called a complete protein. If the protein of a food does not supply all the essential amino acids, it is called an incomplete protein.

All meat and other animal products are sources of complete proteins. These include beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, and milk products. Protein in foods (such as grains, fruits, and vegetables) are either low, incomplete protein or lack one of the essential amino acids. These food sources are considered incomplete proteins. Plant proteins can be combined to include all of the essential amino acids and form a complete protein. Examples of combined, complete plant proteins are rice and beans, milk and wheat cereal, and corn and beans.

You can imagine why body builders tend to gravitate toward the simpler options rather than relying on food combinations to perfect their amino acid profile. It is admittedly quite difficult to find a protein source as convenient and abundant as animal products, but let's look at what you can accomplish without them in an attempt to avoid highly acidic foods keeping in mind that "Low" in protein is relative to how much you eat.

A typical salad that I eat on a daily basis contains Spinach, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Avocado, Tofu and Olive Oil. I usually put some salt and pepper on top to add some flavor. Courtesy of http://nutritiondata.self.com/ I came up with these: 

Spinach (half of a 10 oz package): 32.5 Calories, 4g Protein, 5g Complex Carbohydrates, 3g of Dietary Fiber, 224mg Sodium (NOT Salt - the alkaline mineral sodium), .5g Fat, .5g Sugars. In addition: Niacin and Zinc, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2626/2#ixzz291umDIb2

Cauliflower (half of a large head):  105 Calories, 8.5g Protein, 22.5g Complex Carbohydrates, 10.5g Dietary Fiber, 126 mg Sodium , .5g Fat, 10g Sugars. In addition: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Magnesium and Phosphorus, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Manganese.

Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2390/2#ixzz291sMjcXr

Broccoli (1 Stalk): 51 Calories, 4g Protein, 10g Complex Carboydrates, 4g Dietary Fiber, 50mg Sodium, 1g Fat, 3g Sugars. In addition: Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.

Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2356/2#ixzz291wZ4sOh

Tomatoes (1 Yellow Tomato): 32 Calories, 2g Protein, 6g Carbohydrates, 1g Dietary Fiber, 49mg Sodium, 1g Fat, (No Data on Sugar on site). In addition: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Niacin, Folate, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2776/2#ixzz291xzZnjz

Avocado (1 California Avocado): 227 Calories, 3g Protein, 12g Complex Carboydrates, 9g Dietary Fiber, 11mg Sodium, 21g Fat, 3g Saturated Fat, 0g Sugar. In addition,  Vitamin K and Folate.

Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1844/2

Tofu (2 Slices Extra Firm Raw 168g): 92 Calories, 12g Protein, 2g Carbohydrates, 0g Dietary Fiber, 53mg Sodium, 2g Fat, 1g Sugars. In addition: Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper.

Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4412/2

Olive Oil (1 Ounce):  248 Calories, 28g Fat, 4g Saturated Fat, 1mg Sodium. No additional notable nutrients.

Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/509/2

So what would the nutrition label look like on that salad?

Calories: 787.5
Protein: 33.5 g
Complex Carbohydrates: 57.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 27.5 g
Sodium: 514 mg
Fat: 55 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Sugars: 14.5 g (not counting tomato due to no data)
Cholesterol: 0 g

And you'll never have to touch a multivitamin again. 

If you're looking to reduce calories further, the Olive Oil is the obvious calorie culprit, but you need to be careful reducing calories too much because you will lose muscle along with the fat. Overall, the nutrition facts on a high quality spinach salad are not what the average person would expect. 

The recommended daily amount of protein varies from source to source, but generally is somewhere around .37 g per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 175 lbs, two of these salads per day has you covered. If you're interested in salad for breakfast, or take on the blender option I suggested in my last post you can manage to have 3 of these bad boys per day (hopefully with a bit more variety than exactly what I posted) and you will be at a healthy 2362 Calories, 100.5 g of Protein, 172.5 g of Complex Carbohydrates, and 165 g of Fat. 

If you feel you need more Calories in your diet, it's not difficult to dump more than 1 ounce of olive oil on your salad, or increase the amount of tofu, and if you get hunger pangs at first in between meals (which shouldn't happen if you eat often enough), I highly recommend drinking Green Drinks to make sure your blood sugar levels stay comfortable. 

It does appear that one can replicate a traditional diet for sports with entirely plant based foods, and it doesn't even require a large amount of creativity. This is not to say that replacing your tofu with meat is going to be catastrophic to your health, but if you're looking to repair a damaged body, or maximize your nutrition, vegetables seem to be up to the task.  

Before I go, there is one more important point to make. The below is taken from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition website

"Muscle wasting appears to be an adaptive response to acidosis (14-17). With muscle breakdown, amino acids are released into the bloodstream. These amino acids provide a substrate for the hepatic synthesis of glutamine. Glutamine is used by the kidney to synthesize ammonia (18). Ammonia molecules spontaneously accept protons and are excreted as ammonium ions; the excretion of ammonium thus removes protons and mitigates the acidosis."

So basically, your body breaks down your muscle in order to neutralize excess acid in your body. This would certainly be counterproductive for the guy who just drank a protein shake with milk (acidic) after his lean chicken dinner (acidic) and Red Bull (do I have to say it?) before his work out.

There are definitely a lot of different ways to reach your fitness goals, and our bodies are extremely resilient, but if you are looking for a lifestyle that has no downside and will guarantee an increase in your health there are certainly notable benefits to going out of your way to get your protein and other nutrition from high quality alkaline foods. 


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