Growing amounts of research show that eating more plant foods is associated with greater longevity and a reduced risk for most chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
We also know that very few people consume the minimum recommended daily servings of fruits, vegetables, and fiber.
But, while we know that plant foods are loaded with nutrients, many athletes who have higher protein demands because of training wonder if plant sources can offer them enough protein.
Is that possible? Absolutely!
So Why are Proteins so Important?
Proteins are found in the cells and tissues of all living things. They’re made up of chains of amino acids, which are molecules that are involved in a variety of biochemical functions.
There are 20 amino acids, nine of which are considered essential because they cannot be synthesized in the human body, and therefore must be acquired through the diet.
Animal sources of protein are considered “complete” in that they contain adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids the human body needs.
However, with a few exceptions, such as soy and quinoa, most plant foods are considered “incomplete” proteins, because they have low levels of, or are missing, one or more of the essential amino acids.
That said, plant sources of protein can be combined to complement amino acid levels to make a more complete protein.
A diet that includes both whole grains and legumes can provide a sufficient amount of all essential amino acids.
Types of Plant-Based Diets:
Plant-based diets include both vegetarian and vegan approaches.
Vegetarians eat plant foods and MAY include dairy products and eggs.
Vegan diets eliminate all animal products, including dairy products, eggs, and even honey.
But a “plant-based” diet can also be one that simply maximizes plant food intake and reduces animal proteins. So, you don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to benefit from a plant-based diet.
Remember though, not all plant-based diets are equally beneficial though. For instance, it’s possible that you can be a vegan and still eat lots of processed foods and junk carbohydrates, which are associated with a higher risk of disease. Not good.
The goal is to eat a plant-based diet with natural foods like whole grains, beans, nuts/seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Let’s look at plant foods that are high in protein.
Finding good plant sources of protein in terms of amino acid balance is one thing, but getting enough total protein to support your needs when you are exercising and training is quite another.
Plant-based protein sources include:
• Legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and peanuts.
• Whole Grains like wheat, rice, corn, and oats.
• Nuts and seeds and
• Plant-based meat replacements
These are becoming more available as consumers choose to eat more plant-based meals. Caveat… some meat alternatives are high in protein, but some are very high in sodium, saturated fat, and even added sugar, so be sure to check the Nutrition Facts label.
Getting The Boost You Need
If you’re working out and need more protein, you probably know from experience that finding a quality vegan protein shake that mixes well and tastes great is next to impossible.
That’s why I spent years working on developing a Lean Body Plant-based Ready-to-drink protein shake– and I’m proud to say, we’ve done it!
Lean Body Plant-based RTDs have 30 grams of high-quality protein and contain no artificial sweeteners, flavorings, or colors. They’re made with non-GMO ingredients, are gluten-free, and come in chocolate and vanilla caramel flavors. Best of all, they are the best tasting plant-based protein shakes available without the gritty aftertaste that’s typical of ordinary plant protein shakes.
In summary, try adding some plant-based proteins to your diet.
Plant sources of proteins are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals that are associated with a healthy diet pattern.
Now you can substitute plant proteins for animal proteins in your diet, with more confidence than ever before. It’s healthy, tasty, convenient, and can give your health a boost!
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.