Why Protein Is Important And Where To Get It If You’re Vegan. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a guest post from James Staring, Lead Trainer at Fit to Last. James will explore Protein as a crucial component of a healthy diet, especially if you want to improve your health and fitness. It helps build and repair tissues, supports the functioning of enzymes and hormones, and aids in maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass, vital for overall health and fitness goals. Incorporating protein-rich foods, such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, and nuts, can help you get enough protein to support your health and fitness goals.
Why Protein Is Important And Where To Get It If You’re Vegan
When it comes to healthy eating, many people focus on carbohydrates, but it’s consistent protein consumption that we should be paying attention to. Protein contains amino acids, the building blocks for muscle growth and maintenance. Additionally, protein is essential to a healthy metabolism, efficient nutrient transport throughout the body, and a healthy immune system. Protein helps you to feel fuller for longer and helps you to feel more energised without resorting to sweet treats.
Consuming enough protein contributes to effective weight and body fat management. While controlling carbohydrates is also essential, consuming sufficient protein is vital.
The reason for this is due to blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar levels drop, we feel a decrease in energy. To counteract this, we often seek something sweet (i.e. carbohydrates, aka processed sugar of all varieties) to boost those energy levels. When you get into the habit of supplementing low energy levels with sugar, unnecessary weight gain is inevitable.
This is where sufficient protein intake comes to the rescue. Consuming enough daily protein will make you feel fuller throughout the day because protein takes longer to digest.
This longer digestive process means you’ll receive a more sustained release of energy after your meals. When you get regular energy throughout the day, you’re less likely to crave sugar to boost you.
Why Is Protein Important When Exercising?
When you exercise, you create little tears in the targeted muscles you’re working on. Following exercise, your body works on repairing and rebuilding those targeted muscles to return stronger. This is nothing to be concerned about – it’s all part of your body’s recovery process.
After you exercise, your body will start recovering, where it heals and rebuilds these little tears in the muscle tissue. Proteins are the building blocks for muscle tissue, so they play a vital role in this process. By consuming protein regularly before and after your workouts, the next time you exercise, those targeted muscles will rebuild more robust and be more capable of adapting to the demands you’re placing on them.
Myth-Busting: Vegans Don’t Get Enough Protein
There’s a common misconception that plant-based diets lack protein because animal protein is presumed to be the only option. However, numerous plant-based, protein-rich sources provide a sufficient alternative, including soy, tempeh, beans, edamame, quinoa, barley and a wide range of seeds.
The key to consuming enough protein on a plant-based diet is to diversify and not rely on one source. By ensuring you get a healthy combination of soy options and varied legumes, grains, and seeds weekly, you’ll tick those protein boxes and get everything you need.
If you’re vegan, opt for 1 cup of cooked legumes (i.e. chickpeas, edamame or tempeh) daily. This is because legumes are rich in lysine (an essential amino acid) in short supply from other plant-based sources.
Plant-Based Protein Sources
Here’s a list of excellent plant-protein options to get the biggest bang for your plant-based protein buck.
This is made from gluten and has a similar texture to cooked meat. While it is very high in protein at 25g per 100g serving and can be adapted to various recipes, you’ll want to try other options if you’re sensitive to gluten.
Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame: these soy-based options all contain 12-20g of protein per 100g serving. While tempeh has a nutty flavour, tofu lacks any distinctive flavour. So, you’ll need to hone those seasoning skills to make tofu a tastier option.
At 18g of protein per 100g serving, lentils are an excellent source of protein. Additionally, lentils are rich in slow-release carbohydrates and fibre, making them an excellent source of energy and improved digestion.
This ancient grain contains 8g of protein per 250g serving. It’s also a great source of fibre and iron and makes an excellent alternative to rice.
These little beauties are also loaded with fibre at 9g per 160g cooked cup serving. Add the other list of nutrients in green peas and their versatility to add to recipes, and you’re on to a winning source of plant-based protein.
Plant-Based Protein Powders
Protein powders are an excellent way to supplement your protein intake. While you always want to get your protein through more natural sources, protein powders are effective at topping things up for consistent intake.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing plant-based protein powders.
Soy protein powder
Soy protein powder is a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids, and provides 25g of protein per 100g serving.
Pea protein powder
Pea protein is complete but low in methionine, an antioxidant. This can be overcome by combining pea protein powder with protein powder made from rice.
Rice protein powder
Rice protein is also a complete protein but is low in leucine. Leucine is an essential amino acid for muscle growth and healing. This can be overcome by combining rice protein with pea protein (a 30/70 mix). This combination closely resembles the protein profile of whey protein.
Texture Of Vegan Protein Powders
Plant-based protein shakes can sometimes have a grittier texture than whey protein powder.
This is because plant-based protein powder contains more fibre than actual plants, making the texture grittier. If you prefer a smooth texture to your plant-based protein shake, add the liquid before the powder and blend thoroughly.
No matter how you decide to get your protein, make sure you eat it at every meal, and this will ensure you recover faster, maintain a healthy weight, and feel less like snacking.
I hope you enjoyed that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Staring is the founder and lead fitness coach at Fit to Last Personal Trainers, which offers a high-end, all-inclusive fitness solution for those who’ve tried everything in the past: crash diets, exercise fads, regular gyms, etc., all with little to no success or results. Fit Last works with you to create a personalised programme of exercise, nutrition (no calorie counting or weighing) and small, simple lifestyle changes to keep you on track to your goals, injury-free and bursting with energy. See: www.fittolast.co.uk