Vegan Protein

Veganism is becoming an increasingly popular lifestyle choice for various reasons.

Eating a plant-based diet is just one aspect of being a vegan; at its core, veganism involves an ethical decision to eschew the exploitation of animals in all forms. So, aside from food, this will usually extend to things like clothing, cosmetics, sundries and household cleaning products.

If you identify as vegan, one of the concerns you might have is whether or not you’re getting enough protein. To clarify, animal-based proteins, found in meat, fish, eggs and whey, all deliver what is known as a full-spectrum of amino acids; they’re often referred to as ‘complete’ proteins. Amino acids are the ‘building blocks’ of protein chains, and despite there being virtually hundreds (or even thousands) of amino acid units, just 20 of these are utilised by the human body (approximately).

Of these, eight (nine in infants) are classed as essential; this term doesn’t denote their importance over the others – it simply means that our bodies cannot make them. Thus, we must obtain these eight from food sources (and/or supplements). To reiterate, animal proteins contain all eight, essential aminos, whereas not all plant proteins do. This doesn’t make them an inferior protein source, though – it’s merely a case of being a bit more aware.

Plant proteins often lack certain aminos, though this differs depending on the protein source in question. For example, legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils) tend to deliver insufficient quantities of methionine. This can be easily solved by eating things like grains or nuts, which are usually low in lysine (but not methionine). Legumes contain useful levels of lysine, which is why vegan protein powders are usually based on a blend of say, pea protein isolates and brown rice protein isolates.

The ‘protein combining’ theory stems from this. However, so long as you’re getting a good variety of plant-based proteins throughout the day, it’s not really necessary to mix them at every meal. Low levels of certain aminos can impact the function of the other aminos. The importance of protein is well-emphasised, owing to its role in muscle development (and many other chemical reactions in the body); it’s a must for anyone who’s active.

For ease of use and reassurance, vegan protein powders remove a great deal of hassle from your food prep. They’ve come on leaps and bounds over the past few years, so that sand-like texture (plus the residue at the bottom of your shaker!) and bland taste is a thing of the past. Can you achieve your muscle-building goals on a vegan diet? Absolutely! Vegan protein powders are also ideal for people who must avoid animal-based powders for medical reasons, such as having an allergy or intolerance.

Vegan protein powders may feature base ingredients like sunflower, hemp, pea, and brown rice protein isolates. For best results, mix vegan protein powders with plant-based milk, e.g. almond or hemp (use a blender if preferred). Many varieties are flavoured, so you can enjoy them around your training, to help you meet your protein requirements.

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