Just walk into Whole Foods and look at their sports supplement section. Plant-based protein powders have nearly as much shelf space as any others. Many want to go plant-based, however they are scared that they won’t get enough protein.
And if you workout/exercise this fear is amplified because not getting enough protein means lower performance and less gains. Or worse yet, losing gains you have worked so hard for over the years.
Plant-Base Protein Sources
Soy protein is one of the tricks of the trade for plant-based protein adopters to get a fair amount of high quality protein. It can be used in many dishes because of its relatively neutral flavor. However, some may have digestive issues in the form of gas with soy.
• Black beans
You can utilize combinations of incomplete proteins to make up a complete protein meal. For instance:
• Beans and Brazil nuts (rice is a weak source of protein)
• Almond butter and sprouted bread
Getting sufficient protein for many who go plant-based is incorporating protein powder. It’s typical for vegetarian bodybuilders to consume up to 40-50% of their daily protein needs through vegan protein powders.
The average person doesn’t need as much protein as that group, but it demonstrates in even the most extreme cases getting enough protein can be achieved.
“Plant-based protein powder supplements can meet the needs of everyday people, athletes, bikini competitors, and bodybuilders alike.”
One of the more accepted ways to assess the quality and bioavailability of protein is the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score. PDCAAS ranks proteins on a quality scale of zero to one.
The closer to one, the better.
1. Soy Protein
Soy protein is made from soybeans that have been dehulled and defatted. It digests at a moderate rate, like egg white protein, and contains greater amounts of the amino acids glutamine and arginine, which may help support immune function, digestive health, and brain function.
It’s a complete protein and considered the most effective plant-derived source for building or maintaining muscle. The scare about men growing breasts because of the estrogen is media hype. You would have to consume copious amounts of this stuff to affect your hormones in any significant way.
PDCAA Score: 1.0
2. Pea Protein
Pea protein is typically derived from the yellow pea, and is the most highly digestible of the plant proteins. This is a great alternative if your stomach doesn’t agree with soy (or dairy). However, it’s not a complete protein, so mix it with another vegan protein to complete its amino acid profile.
3. Hemp Protein
Hemp protein is made from hemp seeds, and isn’t the best for building muscle per se because of it’s low PDCAA score. That said, it offers other beneficial nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Hemp seeds are considered to be a “superfood” by many because of their nutrient density.