Plant Based Protein
If you haven’t watched Forks Over Knives on Netflix yet, please do! The documentary really goes into detail about what a plant-based diet can do for our bodies (and also the truth about what animal products does to our bodies).
I wanted to share some awesome information from Forks Over Knives about where people eating a plant based vegan diet can get their protein and show you what animal protein does to your body.
The truth about how vegans get their protein, and other nutrients.
When I started transitioning to a vegan diet, the first thing I cut out was mammal meat (cows, pigs, etc). I was rarely eating chicken, fish, and eggs. Shortly after I cut out all meat and almost all dairy, besides cheese when we were out of the house.
Then, when I finally started eating a plant based vegan diet, people REALLY started asking me questions… Questions like where does your protein come from, what do you eat after the gym, and how do you get enough calcium and iron?
Since I am such a health and fitness buff now (it feels weird labeling myself as that, but I guess it’s true!) I needed to educate myself on how this diet can support my fitness lifestyle.
I started using things like soy based grounds, TVP, tofu, tempeh, and seitan. I tried many different “meat” protein alternatives, but in the end, the less processed it was, the better I felt.
I came to the realization that my protein intake will come naturally when I eat a variety of plant based foods! I still like to use TVP, tofu, and occasionally tempeh when I’m cooking, but usually I stick to the veggies, legumes, and grains for my protein sources!
Where do Plant Based Vegans get their Protein?
When you eat a diet based on fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes and are eating enough calories for your body, it’s nearly impossible to be protein deficient. It may be surprising to some, but plant based foods are abundant in protein!
There’s even evidence that consuming too much protein is harmful (especially when it comes from animal sources) and most people in America do eat too much protein!
Let’s get down to the science of plant based protein to understand why our bodies need protein in the first place.
Proteins consist of 20 different amino acids, 11 of which can be produced naturally by our bodies. The remaining 9 (what we call essential amino acids ) must be ingested from the foods we eat.
So I like to look at protein for what it is: individual amino acids, rather than protein as a whole “macro” category. Where do we find these certain essential amino acids? I’ll tell you this, you can find all of them in plant based sources, while containing more fiber and micronutrients than in animal products!
In fact, all 9 essential amino acids are originally synthesized by plants, and are only found in meat and dairy products because animals have eaten those plants.
Plant Based Protein Sources
How much protein does one need to ensure they are intaking all the essential amino acids their body needs? It’s simple math! YAY! All you do it take 0.36 and times that by your weight in pounds and voalá!
Example: 0.36 x 120 = 43.2 Let’s even round up to 45 grams! Easy peasy!
Here are lists of plant based foods for all 9 essential amino acids! You’re Welcome!
- Histidine: Apple, pomegranates, alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, dandelion, endive, garlic, radish, spinach, turnip greens.
- Isoleucine: Avocados, papayas, olives, coconut, sunflower seeds.
- Leucine: Avocados, papayas, olives, coconut, sunflower seeds.
- Lysine: Apples, apricots, grapes, papayas, pears, alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, dandelion greens, parsley, spinach, turnip greens.
- Methionine: Apples, pineapples, Brazil nuts, filberts, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, garlic, horseradish, kale, watercress.
- Phenylalanine: Apples, pineapples, beets, carrots, parsley, spinach, tomatoes, nutritional yeast: this stuff is the best vegan cheese/nutty flavoring ever! and has B12!!!
- Threonine: Papayas, alfalfa sprouts, carrots, green leafy vegetables such as celery, collards, kale, and lettuce (especially iceberg), lima beans, laver (Nori — a sea vegetable).
- Tryptophan: Alfalfa, brussel sprouts, carrots, celery, chives, dandelion greens, endive, fennel, pumpkin seeds, snap beans, spinach, turnips, nutritional yeast.
- Valine: Apples, almonds, pomegranates, beets, carrots, celery, dandelion greens, lettuce, okra, parsley, parsnips, squash, tomatoes, turnips, nutritional yeast.
The following list are foods that contain ALL 9 essential amino acids!!
- Soy foods, such as tofu, tempeh, miso, and soy milk
- Sprouted seeds — each type of sprout has differing proportions of nutrients, so it’s best to eat a variety of them
- Grains, especially amaranth and quinoa, are highest in protein and are high-quality proteins
- Beans and legumes, especially when eaten raw
- Spirulina and chlorella (blue-green algae), which are over 60 percent protein
Side note: When you switch to a plant based diet, receiving your carbs, fats, and proteins from plants, you naturally intake more fiber! That’s what you should be more worried about than protein anyways, fiber!
I love fitness, specifically lifting heavy weights and performing giant sets for cardio. I feel awesome after they gym when I drink my Vega protein shake! When I have time, I even mix it into a smoothie!
So, there are some awesome plant based protein supplements out there that are made organically from plant instead of from animal or dairy products. If you need extra protein due to your activity level, then seriously go try Vega.
I wouldn’t recommend anything that I don’t believe in 100% and I strongly believe that Vega is DA BESS plant based supplement line on the market right now and they have tons of recipes on their site!
Where do Vegans get their calcium and iron?
Just as with protein it is not difficult to get enough calcium—you just need to eat whole, plant-based foods. Calcium, like iron, magnesium, and copper, is a mineral. It is found in the soil, where it is absorbed into the roots of plants.
Animals get their calcium, and other minerals, by consuming the mineral-abundant plants and metabolizing that calcium into their bodies. Surprised? That’s because we’ve been so conditioned to think that calcium comes primarily from milk and dairy products that few of us realize it actually comes from the earth and is abundant in all whole foods.
For strong bones and calcium, how much of the nutrient you get isn’t as important as where you get it—and how you lose it. Quality over Quantity!
There are two major contributing factors to the leaching of calcium from bones, which leads to their weakening and may increase the risk for osteoporosis.
First, consuming a highly acidic diet. Our bodies are alkaline. It is vital that the acidity level of your diet is not so high that your bones must leach calcium to keep your body’s alkaline levels balanced.
The levels of acidic compounds are lower in plant foods so they won’t draw the calcium from your bones the way animal foods will. Eating a whole-food, plant-based diet gives your body the acid/alkaline balance it needs for optimal bone health.
Second, consuming a high-sodium diet. The diet we recommend is naturally low-sodium, as it relies very little on processed foods, which tend to be very high in salt.
As with protein, many organizations will suggest that you need to consume a specific amount of calcium per day for strong bones. Don’t listen to them because the truth is that good bone health has nothing to do with hitting an specific number for calcium intake.
Furthermore, we believe that when people are instructed to achieve these subjective targets, it creates a skewed notion of what is good nutrition and leads people to make poor food choices—as is the case with dairy.
More Awesome Vega Supplements
Check out this link for more about Vega Supplements: Post Workout Meals
If you liked this post, check out my exclusive freebie library of goodies for subscribers! There I have fitness & nutrition freebies that are only offered to subscribers!