Protein is without a doubt one of the most talked-about macronutrients among active trainees, but which are the best plant sources of protein for plant based trainees?
Active individuals seek protein and consume it in many forms, with one goal in mind – Optimizing recovery and sports performance.
Practically, protein & water are the two most common substances in the human body and they make up literally every tissue of it.
Protein itself is involved in many constructive & recovery processes, making a sufficient daily intake important for optimal performance.
Plant protein vs. Animal protein
Now, as you may or may not know, proteins are made up of amino acids.
There are essential and non-essential amino acids, meaning that the body can produce some of the amino acids on its own, while others must be derived from food.
Depending on the amino acid profile of a certain food, there are two types of protein sources – Complete and incomplete.
Furthermore, each protein has its own biological value. We’ve dedicated a separate article on this topic, which you can check out HERE.
We’d hate to break it to all of you who are plant-based, but most plants lack one or more essential amino acids.
Though that is the case, you are not doomed if you are plant-based.
We can easily get the full amino acid profile by combining different grains and legumes.
Such combinations allow the foods to compensate for the lack of some amino acids in one another.
Combining plant protein sources like wheat and beans for example, would grant the body quality protein, which is just as good as animal protein.
Now, if you are not an omnivore, you should have a well-balanced diet that has diverse food products, such as wheat, beans, lentils, seeds, nuts and hard vegetables.
Generally, people think vegetarians and vegans are completely depleted of quality protein.
However, this would not be the case, given that you KNOW what you’re doing and have a rational nutrition plan.
Plant sources of protein
To be honest, I myself do not consume all that much meat. To me personally, the best nutrition plan consists of some meat, some dairy and as a matter of fact, many plant products!
It’s just something about plant protein that makes it easily digestible.
Our favorite plant protein sources that can replace meat are:
- Some soy products
Each food has its own, unique amino acid profile, as it contains different proteins.
That is to say you’d be best off combining those, as we already mentioned.
Here are the 10 most abundant plant sources of protein and their protein content per 100 grams:
- Beans – 21~25 grams of protein per 100 grams
- Brussel sprouts – 3.5 grams of protein per 100 grams
- Short grain white rice – 6.5 grams of protein per 100 grams
- Canned mushrooms – 3.5 grams of protein per 100 grams
- Green peas- 5.5 grams of protein per 100 grams
- Long grain brown rice – 8 grams of protein per 100 grams
- Wheat germs – 7.5 grams of protein per 100 grams
- Millet – 10 grams of protein per 100 grams
- Lentils – 26 grams of protein per 100 grams
- Corn – 9 grams of protein per 100 grams
Benefits of plant protein
Now, for some people, animal products might be a bad thing for the gut microbes.
Throughout my experience as a personal trainer, I’ve met DOZENS of people who just feel like a slob after consuming some meat.
That is perhaps because their bodies are not well-adapted, but point of the matter is that plant protein is easily digestible.
The reason being, plants have more digestive-friendly structures that the body easily breaks down into amino acids and the effect of the “rest and digest” is not as prominent.
A plant-based approach to nutrition is one of the best options if you are looking to cleanse your gastro-intestinal tract!
Another benefit is that you can easily get your daily protein through plants, contrary to popular belief.
If we consume plant protein adequately and correctly, it has its own benefits and we can easily use it as an alternative to animal protein.
Plant-based protein supplements
Besides combining grains and legumes to get the full amino acid profile, we can also supplement with protein powders.
Most manufacturers make these powders from isolated plant protein, such as:
- Soy protein
Soy protein is abundant of important amino acids, such as glutamine and valine.
However, we should pick this supplement carefully, as many manufacturers derive it from low-quality sources, making it a bad option for people with endocrine issues.
- Green peas protein powder
There are protein powders and bars made from green peas, as it is an abundant source of protein – Nearly 6 grams of protein per 100 grams of peas.
The green peas protein powders are abundant of aspartic acid, arginine and other amino acids.
- Rice protein
You’ve probably seen rice milk in stores. Well, as you saw in the food chart, rice is abundant of protein too!
This is why many supplement companies rely on rice to create their plant-based protein powders.
Rice protein is abundant of glutamine, methionine but also lacks some amino acids.
The more research we get on nutrition, the more surprises we stumble upon.
Contrary to popular belief, protein isn’t either meat or beans.
For example, spirulina is a type of seaweed that is abundant of many amino acids and has a near-perfect amino acid profile.
If you look through some of the more famous supplement brands, you’ll find some amazing products that can supplement your daily nutrition and help you hit your daily requirements.
Protein is the most essential macronutrient for the human body.
It accounts for the changes in body composition, along with total daily energy balance.
Contrary to popular belief, vegetarians and vegans can easily meet their daily needs.
The requirement here is to have a smart approach to nutrition.
Meat and eggs are far from the only good protein sources.
The plant-based alternatives that today’s market offers, can easily be just as good as animal products.
Furthermore, plant protein is easily digestible and may be the best option for people who get tired after consuming animal products.
Ultimately, to get the full amino acid profile, we should consider a diverse approach to nutrition.
That implies an abundance of nuts, seeds, grains, legumes & alternative foods like spirulina and plant-based protein powders.