So, you've been turned on to the benefits of a plant-based diet? Then you'll already be enjoying the upside of ditching meat-based proteins from your plate. Plants are high in inflammation-fighting antioxidants, and making the switch to a plant-based diet is one of the key ways to injury-proof yourself as an athlete.
We’ve been sold on the idea for decades that eating animal-based proteins is needed to build muscle (remember those tuna-egg combos trainers used to recommend?). It's not surprising then that there's plenty of skepticism and misinformation about whether plant-based eating is suitable for muscle building. But research shows it’s totally possible to build muscle if you’re consuming a plant-based protein powder.
You’ll know all about the power of protein if your goal is to gain more muscle. Proteins serve up amino acids which our bodies need for the repair and rebuilding of muscle fibers. When we push weights or do resistance training, we're breaking down muscle. Our bodies need protein to repair – and grow – the muscle.
The great news is that by having healthy plant-based protein sources on the menu, you can build muscle and perform at a high level when training. Bonus? Lower in calories than animal-based proteins, they’ll also help you shed body fat and lean out in record time.
HOW TO GET PROTEIN IN A PLANT-BASED DIET
Nature serves up an incredible source of plant-based proteins. What to look out for? Not all plant-based proteins are created equal. Soybeans and quinoa win bragging rights because they are "complete proteins" which means they have all the amino acids you need. Others are missing some of these, so mixing up your plate should be a priority, or looking for supplements that contain a combination of several plant-based proteins.
Wondering what should go in your “protein pantry”? Here are some of the plant-based proteins recommended to help you solve how to get protein into a plant-based diet:
1. SOY PRODUCTS
Rich in protein, soy-based products such as tofu are popular as meat substitutes. They're super versatile and bring with them the bonus of high levels of calcium and iron. The protein content is affected by the way the soy is prepped. For example, firm tofu contains 10g of protein for half a cup compared to edamame beans, which are immature soybeans.
Lentils are a favorite source of protein for those that follow a plant-based diet. Both red and green lentils, when cooked, contain 8.84g of protein per half-cup.
Chickpeas weigh in with a healthy 7.25g of protein per half-cup. Whip them up into hummus, and you've got a protein-rich alternative to butter for sandwiches right at your fingertips.
Peanut butter is an excellent snack if you need to up your protein intake, with 3.6g per tablespoon. In their raw form, peanuts will bring 20.g of protein per half-cup to the plant-based plate. Almonds are another great on-the-go option for snacking with 16.5g of protein per half-cup.
A sprinkling of seeds is an awesome way to give a protein boost to any meal. Add chia seeds, hemp seeds, and others to the mix.
Protein-rich vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and mushrooms contain less than 5g of protein, so they can’t deliver your daily protein requirements. Potatoes fare better with 8g of protein per serving.
It's not an exact science, but there's consensus that you won't get your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein from the nuts, veg, and other foods you have in your pantry if you're doing regular, intense training. However, a plant-based protein supplement will help you address how to get protein into a plant-based diet if you’re vegetarian or vegan.
THE POWER OF PLANT-BASED PROTEIN POWDER
The RDA of protein for men is 56 grams per day, and for women, 46. Weigh 150 pounds? You’ll need roughly 55g of protein to meet your RDA. But, Harvard University says if you're undergoing intense training, you may need to consume double the RDA.
Figuring out how much dietary protein you need will depend on the level of training and stress you put on your body - and your ultimate goals. Getting enough protein can be a challenge for lifters and other athletes, which is why protein powders are recommended to add to your supplement stack.
When it comes to protein powders, those based on whey have been the go-to solution if you want to build muscle fast. It does the job, serving up all the amino acids you need for muscle growth and repair. But it's not for everyone.
Some athletes are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy (whey is sourced from milk), and others simply can’t take the funky smell and chalky texture. If bloating is part of your training experience, switching to a plant-based protein powder should sort you out.
Plant-based protein powders rely on seeds, rice, hemp, and peas for their powerful protein punch. Let's take a look at some of the benefits of plant-based protein powders as a building block of a good workout program and to figure out how to get protein into a plant-based diet.
Plant-Based Protein Powder Benefits:
- They contain all the essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs, without the digestive issues some people experience with whey products.
- It's digested and absorbed quickly by the body, so it begins to act promptly to repair and build muscle.
- They are free of allergens and gluten.
- Many ingredients found in plant-based powders contain the vitamins, nutrients, fatty acids, and antioxidants your body needs.
- They are environmentally-friendly as the ingredients don’t rely on carbon-heavy farming methods.
- They have a creamy texture that is great with almond milk or added to smoothies.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PLANT-BASED PROTEIN POWDER
If you’re weight training and want to push yourself to the limit, you'll need a product that supports lean muscle growth, enhances muscle repair and improves your exercise performance. With the optimal ratios of ingredients, such as protein, leucine, and amino acids, you’ll nail those goals. What’s the magic number?
Nutritionists recommend that 20-25g of protein after a workout is enough to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. So doubling this up with two scoops of the supplement will help you bulk up more quickly, right?
Wrong. Extra protein not used by your body could be stored as fat thanks to the excess calories. Keep that in mind when finding your sweet spot.
POWER UP YOUR DAY WITH PROTEIN
Now that you know how easy it is to nail your daily protein requirements as a plant-based eater, what’s next?
Check out ProSupps Plant Perform. This plant-based protein has the perfect amount of protein (25g), along with 3g of leucine which helps build and repair muscle too. It's formulated with pea protein, rice protein, fava bean and natural cocoa flavors for great taste.