"But, how do you get enough protein?"
A good question, because protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass and you find it mostly in animal products. Nevertheless, it is not impossible to simply get the necessary building materials from plant proteins. Even when you have a very active lifestyle! You can read exactly how that all works in this blog.
What is protein?
The body contains very different proteins, which are made up of amino acids. The structure of these amino acids determines what type and function the proteins have.
Of the 20 types of amino acids, the human body can make 11 of them itself; these are non-essential amino acids. The other nine, the essential amino acids, we get through our diet. Animal products contain all of these essential amino acids, and can be used directly by the body. They are also called complete proteins. If a protein does not contain all of the essential amino acids, then it is an incomplete protein.
Your body makes its own complete proteins from all the essential amino acids you take in on a day. Therefore, it is important to add a lot of variety to your vegan diet to ""collect"" all the essential amino acids that your body then makes complete proteins from.
How much protein do you need?
The average adult needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, according to the nutrition center. However, this calculation does not take into account a plant-based diet and, of course, certainly not athletes who exercise a few times a week.
Scientific research conducted by the ""American College of Sports medicine,"" ""the Academy of nutrition and dietetics"" and the ""Dieticians of Canada"" recommends significantly higher protein intakes for two types of athletes. Endurance athletes should take in between 1.2/1.4 grams per kg of body weight daily. For strength athletes, it is between 1.2/1.8 grams per kg of body weight.
Research from the ""Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition"" indicates that vegan bodybuilders, when they are cutting, need to ingest as much as 1.8/2.7g of protein per kg of body weight daily during these periods in order to lose weight without losing muscle mass. According to the study, vegan athletes need to add an additional 10%, because plant proteins are not digested as well as animal proteins.
Vegan protein sources
So, getting enough protein and essential minerals is a bit harder for vegans. It takes some planning, especially in the beginning, to make sure you get enough protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin B12 (which you do get through animal products). That's why we're highlighting some vegan products that are high in protein, which also contain important minerals.
1. Soy and Seitan
These are one of the most common sources of protein. Think tofu (12g per 100g), edamame beans (11g per 100g) and tempeh (19g per 100g). They contain calcium and iron, and are therefore also good dairy substitutes.
A common meat substitute is Seitan, it contains an average of 24g of protein per 100g. Soy and Seitan, by the way, are full-fledged proteins, containing all 9 essential amino acids just like animal products.
These are also good sources of protein. Lentils, red or green, contain 9 grams of protein per 100g. In addition, they are also rich in fiber and other important substances such as iron and potassium. They are therefore ideal for giving your salad an extra bite or for mixing through rice. Another nutritious protein source is the pea. Peas have about 5g of protein per 100g and can be thrown through your meal either hot or cold. In addition, humus, a spread made from peas, on bread is a healthy and protein-rich alternative to butter.
Nuts also contain a large amount of protein. Cashews for example contain 21 grams per 100 grams and peanuts up to 26 grams, ideal for enjoying an old-fashioned peanut butter sandwich and getting a lot of protein at the same time.
Of course, we can't forget vegetables. Broccoli, for example. Although it contains only 3 to 4 grams of protein per 100 grams, it is packed with nutritious substances such as fiber, calcium and vitamin C. Spinach, also a very versatile vegetable, contains almost the same amount of protein per 100 grams, but also has a lot of vitamins K, A, and C. Very healthy!
There are of course many more plant-based protein sources not mentioned in this blog, but especially if you want to eat vegan more often (or just all the time), finding out the nutritional values and components is an interesting and especially instructive process.
Don't forget that there are many more sources of vegetable protein.
And now you!
We've given you more information about protein and how to get enough of it with a vegan diet. Now it's up to you to get started. If you're still looking for a plant-based pre-workout, then FIRST is definitely for you! It contains no protein, but it does contain Vitamin B12, which you can normally only get from animal products.So, grab a gum and go for those PRs!