As more and more athletes embrace plant-based diets, the stereotypes surrounding vegans are finally beginning to fade. As you’ll discover, plant-based protein sources are abundant and, contrary to what we’ve been led to believe, animal proteins are absolutely not a necessary part of our diets. Here’s why.
What is protein & why do we need it?
Protein falls under the category of macronutrient, which means it is a food group we need in larger amounts to provide us with energy. Protein is essential, not only for building muscle, but also for energy production at a cellular level within the body. Without protein, there would be limited production of hormones and enzymes, and cells would have difficulty maintaining both shape and function.
How much protein do we really need?
The protein recommendations for the average sedentary person are 0.8-1.2g of protein per kg of body weight (per day). Protein needs are increased for those who participate in weight training or high-volume training, with the recommendation being 1.2-2g of protein per kg of body weight. Generally, it is recommended to spread protein intake out throughout the day and try to incorporate it into most meals and snacks. A post-workout protein boost can also help support muscle repair and reduce soreness.
What type of protein do we need?
Animal vs Plant Protein Packages
Traditionally, protein powders and supplements contain whey or casein-based proteins (milk-based proteins). However, over the last few years there has been a surge in plant-based supplements, with pea, soy, rice, and hemp proteins all being popular choices. Evidence suggests that plant-based proteins are equally as affective as animal-based protein sources when it comes to supporting protein needs.
Complete & Incomplete Proteins
Proteins are made up of a combination of 20 amino acids; of these amino acids, 9 are ‘essential’ amino acids. This means the body is unable to synthesise them and must be taken in through diet. A complete protein is one that contains all 9 amino acids – both soy and pea protein fall into this category, as do all animal-based proteins.