I think every vegan has been asked (many, many times) how on earth they get enough protein.
The answer? From plants. The same place the animals that carnivores eat get theirs! It really is as simple as that and I don't understand why it is of such interest to non-vegans?
When I ate meat, I never once thought about how much protein I was getting, (and I am certain I wasn't getting enough as I ate very little meat). I am sure there are plenty of carnivores out there who are protein deficient because most people just aren't counting their grams of daily protein are they?
So why is protein so important?
Well protein is one of the three macro-nutrients that our bodies require, along with carbohydrates and fat. Vitamins and minerals are micro-nutrients and we require these but on a smaller scale.
Our bodies can store carbohydrates and fat but it cannot store protein. There is no back up supply lurking behind a lung or kidney so we must keep filling up the tank.
Protein is in every cell of our body so it is essential for repair and growth. From an exercising and training perspective then, we need protein more than ever to aid muscle repair and growth after a workout.
What makes protein?
Protein is made up of long chains of amino acids and the structure, shape and size of these chains determines the activity of that protein. Amino acids are the protein building blocks and there are about 20 commonly found in plant and animal protein, 8 of these are essential for us to consume in our diets. The other 12 amino acids are not classed as essential and do not need to be obtained through our diets because our amazing bodies are able to transfer amino acids from one group into the other amino acid group when required.
How much protein do I need?
The current recommended guidelines suggest that we should have 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight, although some experts believe this to be too low and recommend aiming for up to 1.3g per kg of body weight.
For those of us who are training a lot and lifting weights, then consuming more may be necessary too.
Protein keeps you feeling full. So if you are on a fat loss mission and you are watching your calorie intake, consuming protein is a great way of curving those hunger strikes whilst also giving your muscles ample opportunity for repair and growth.
Protein rich foods
There are plenty of protein rich foods available to us through plants, here are just a few:
2. Soybean products - tofu, tempeh, endamame, soybeans
4. Baked beans
6. Peanut butter
9. Kidney beans
10. Black beans
Why not begin to watch how much protein you are consuming and see whether it falls into the recommended guidelines? If you are uncertain of where to begin and would love some help, feel free to get in touch with me.