What is the Best Plant-Based Protein? The Ultimate Guide to Food & Supplements
6 minute read
We’ve all been there: “Oh you’re vegan, where do you get your protein then?” Whilst some nutrients are tricky to come across with a plant-based diet, protein can be plentiful. Read on to learn more about meeting your daily requirements for this essential, health-optimising nutrient.
Which Nutrients Do I Need to be Mindful of With a Plant-Based Diet?
It’s taken some time but we think that most of us have finally got our heads around the fact that plant-based diets can be just as good for us as animal-based diets - as well as better for the environment and of course the animals.
There are some nutrients which are difficult to get enough of with a vegan diet: Vitamin D3, Omega-3, Haem Iron and Vitamin B12 namely. It is recommended that vegans supplement their diet with vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as consuming fortified foods to avoid deficiencies in these nutrients.
Having said this, plants are an amazing source of some nutrients which you won’t find in as high abundance in animal-based foods. Things like antioxidants, phytochemicals, certain vitamins & minerals and dietary fibre. These are all extremely healthful and arguably just as important in terms of optimising health.
Whatever your dietary preferences, it’s possible to get everything you need from your food and supplements, it just takes a little imagination and adjustment according to your lifestyle.
Plant-Based Protein vs. Animal-Based Protein
So, it's possible to thrive and not just survive with a vegan diet 🙌
But what about protein? Protein is synonymous with chicken breasts and salmon fillets, right? Whilst these are good sources of protein, they’re not always superior to plant-based proteins. Let’s explore…
What is Protein?
Protein is a macronutrient, "macro" meaning we need it in high amounts, like fat and carbs (as opposed to micronutrients, which we need in very small amounts - like vitamins and minerals).
Protein is essential for many bodily functions including growth and maintenance, providing structure, immune function, energy provision and much more.
Protein from our food (or supplements) provides us with "amino acids" in varying amounts, these are the building blocks of protein which are used by the body for all of its complex functions.
There are 20 amino acids in total, 9 of which are "essential amino acids" (EAAs) - meaning we can’t make them in the body and so must get them from diet or supplements.
Animal vs. Plant-Based Protein
The main difference between animal and vegan proteins is that most animal foods tend to contain all 9 EAAs in one convenient package, making them a "complete" source of protein. In comparison, plant-based proteins don’t often contain all 9 and so are named "incomplete" proteins.
There are some plant proteins which are complete (quinoa, soy, chia seeds, spirulina, tempeh) but the vast majority of plants don’t tick all 9 EAA boxes.
Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or include some animal foods in your diet, knowing how best to incorporate complete proteins into every meal is essential to optimise your overall health and wellbeing.
How to Get Enough Protein with a Vegan Diet
There’s one simple life hack which can help you to get a complete source of protein from your plant-based diet: combine your proteins.
Most plant-based proteins contain a mixture of essential and non-essential amino acids, so by combining two or more sources of protein you can get an overall complete source - just as you would animal-based foods. To your body, it does not matter which foods these amino acids have come from, it will gather them together to make a complete protein just the same!
We should all try to eat a source of protein with every meal, and vegans should aim to combine two proteins to benefit from a complete amino acid profile. This doesn’t have to mean doubling up on your portions - rather combining two protein foods together to make one portion. The possibilities for this are endless but here’s a few of our favourite recipes:
You can also top your meals with a sprinkling of protein-dense foods for an added protein boost. For example, nutritional yeast, spirulina, protein powder or nuts & seeds - adding extra protein doesn't always have to take over the meal.
Plant Power Your Workout: Fuelling Your Fitness with a Vegan Diet
So, we understand that it’s possible to get all the protein you need with plant foods - but what about the increased protein requirements for fitness fanatics?
When we workout our muscles endure stress which creates damage to muscle fibres known as hypertrophy. The body repairs this by fusing damaged muscle fibres together and that’s how our muscles become bigger and stronger. To do this the body needs - you guessed it - protein!
It makes sense that strength trainers and bodybuilders will require more protein. In fact, even without weight-bearing exercise, protein is needed post-exercise to repair muscle tissue, prevent injury and improve post-exercise recovery.
So, would a complete animal-based source of protein be better than plant-based protein in this instance? Contrary to popular belief, the answer is no. Aside from the amazing plant-based athletes and bodybuilders we see as living proof of this, research also supports the idea that plant-based protein can be just as good as its animal-based counterpart.
Recently, one study found that a high protein diet composed of 100% vegan mycoprotein (Quorn) supported protein synthesis at a rate equal to the animal-based protein alternative. In fact, there was no benefit to using animal protein over plant-based when rested or exercised. This is a groundbreaking study which quashes the myth that you need animal protein to build muscle, or at all!
How to Choose the Best Vegan Protein Powder Supplement
Getting enough plant-based protein from regular vegan food is possible and easy when you know how! But sometimes our busy lifestyles get in the way; getting two sources of plant-based protein with every meal is tricky when on-the-go or immediately after a workout.
Choosing a quality protein supplement can help you to top up your protein intake quickly and easily when on the move or at home. We have created two 100% vegan protein blends enhanced with superfood ingredients to help to meet your protein requirements conveniently and reliably, gaining a healthful dose of other amazing nutrients with every scoop. Meet the protein blends...
- Green Plant Protein: The Fit Blend - A blend of pea and hemp protein together with super greens: moringa, wheatgrass, matcha and added lucuma fruit. Our lean protein provides 20g protein and a complete source of amino acids. Added greens help to support overall wellness and muscle recovery.
- Cacao Plant Protein: The Strength Blend - Our Cacao Plant Protein powder helps you to perform better and recover quicker after your workout. A blend of pea, hemp and pea protein provides a complete source of amino acids with 20g protein per serving. Enhanced with maca root, raw cacao and unprocessed coconut sugar for a perfectly balanced strength & superfood blend.
- Workout Bundle - The ultimate workout bundle proves our Lean Protein, Muscle Protein and Shroom Coffee for naturally prolonged energy and endurance, overall wellness and immunity, together with enhanced muscle recovery. The bundle comes with a discount, free shipping and an exclusive free Perform eBook as a bundle of thanks!
Meeting your protein requirements is super important whether you’re a couch potato or a fitness enthusiast. Protein is needed with every meal and especially post-workout. By eating mindfully, incorporating two or more plant-based proteins with every meal and supplementing your diet with a premium protein blend, you can help to meet your requirements and optimise overall health and fitness.
SHOP OUR VEGAN PROTEIN BLENDS
- 5 Ways Plantbased Diets Help the Environment - https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/how-eating-more-plant-based-foods-benefits-the-environment/
- 7 Supplements You Should Consider with a Plant-Based Diet - https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-supplements-for-vegans
- Plant-Based Protein & Muscle Synthesis - https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/112/2/318/5841182
- Plant-Based Protein Reduces the Risk of All-Cause Mortality and Could Improve Longevity - https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m2412
- Replacing Animal Protein with Plant Protein Could Improve Human Lifespan - https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-07-protein-consumption-boost-human-lifespan.html