The most pressing question for most Vegans is “how do I get protein as a vegan?”. “Can I get adequate protein without eating animal products?” The quick answer to that question is YES! But it does take some effort. Here is how to get enough protein as a vegan!
Let start by explaining protein and its importance in our diet
All foods break down into three macronutrients, namely carbohydrates, fats and protein. If you are into fitness or have been weight lifting for a while, you know that protein intake is CRUCIAL for muscle growth, maintenance and recovery. This is because protein is a building block. Once digested protein breaks down into 23 different amino acids which are then used for various processes in the body including muscle growth and repair.
During weight lifting or strength training, we “rip” apart our muscle tissue by loading it with resistance. In order for our muscles to repair it (and subsequently grow to adapt to the loads it endures) it needs protein! All organs and other tissues in the human body also require protein so it is extremely important that we get optimal amounts of protein from our diet. This is much easier said that done! Most average people (on an animal based diet) often do not eat sufficient amount of protein (for their body weight and activity level).
How To Get Protein As A Vegan: Are You Getting Enough?
Well it depends on your activity level, goals and body weight but generally speaking you should aim for 0.8 grams to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. .For example, a130lbs female, requires between 100 to 130 grams of protein to maintain itself. This is not withstanding hard gainers, those with fast metabolisms and those under intensive training (like pro athletes).
How do you get that much protein?
Well, with traditional animal based diets, its pretty straight forward, eat bout 4 to 6 of meat or poultry with each meal, some egg whites and a protein shake and you will most likely hit your protein ratio!
With vegan or plant based diets, its a bit more tricky. The main thing to be aware of is that ALL foods including all plant based foods do have some protein. For example, black beans have a whopping 21 grams of protein per 100 grams…. kale has 4.3 grams per 100 grams. With that in mind, the best way to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of protein when following a plant based diet is to eat as much variety of foods as possible AND ensure to ingest 2 to 4 vegan based protein shakes.
It’s also important to include some legumes, seeds and nuts at each meal. For example adding 3 tbsp of shelled hemp seeds to your morning oatmeal adds 10 grams of protein to your breakfast, 1 tbsp of natural almond butter gives you 5 grams of protein, a handful of raw almonds serves 6 grams of protein!
As you can see, if you add or better said sprinkle a bit of protein in each and every meal, you can certainly hit 100 grams or more in a day! The only other tricky part is balancing carbohydrates and fats. Vegan and plant based diets generally can be higher fats and carbohydrates. It may take a bit of experimentation to be able to hit those macros perfectly but as long as you keep an eye on it, it can be done!
Remember that plant based, vegan diets don’t have to be unhealthy and unbalanced! You can totally hit your macros as a vegan, just needs a bit of planning like any good diet! And if you are looking for a good vegan diet check this one out!