Diet is one of the most vital components of an accomplished athlete. Without a proper diet, athletic performance and physical prowess can plummet. There are various diets that people follow. One of them is a diet that is completely plant-based, in other words, a Vegan diet.
A concern for people following a vegan diet is the deficiency of protein. Animal products are generally richer in protein than plant foods so the notion is that you cannot get adequate amounts of protein through a vegan diet.
However, this perception is greatly flawed. One can get enough protein through a vegan diet and supplement with a vegan protein powder can help in achieving this.
Let’s look into the details of what vegan protein powders actually are and how someone can benefit from them.
What Are Vegan Protein Supplements?
Traditional protein supplements generally include protein powders derived from animal sources. Some examples of this are whey protein(derived from milk), micellar casein(also derived from milk), egg protein and beef protein.
On the other hand, vegan protein supplements consist of protein derived from plant sources. Some of these are brown rice protein, hemp protein, soy protein and pea protein.
All of these proteins are generally in the powder form. Each one of these proteins has different amino acid profiles.
What Is The Difference?
Protein is made out of amino acids. There are around 20 different types of amino acids out of which 9 are essential (they cannot be made by the body itself).
A complete profile of amino acids indicates that it is of better quality and can be used by the body more efficiently. Plant proteins and animal proteins have different amino acid profiles.
Usually, animal proteins have a higher amino acid profile. Plant proteins generally lack a complete amino acid profile(they lack a few essential amino acids).
Before jumping to the conclusion that you absolutely need to consume animal protein let us have a more thorough analysis of the situation.
Do I Really Need Animal Protein?
Animal proteins are generally considered to be superior to their generally higher amino acid profile. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot do well with vegan proteins.
Upon ingestion of various types of vegan protein, the lack of missing essential amino acids can be compensated. The protein can become a complete protein due to various amino acids being absorbed from different plant sources.
Virtually all of the people following a vegan diet are not going to get all of their protein from a single source like peanuts, so this isn’t really that big of a problem.
Due to this, it is better to opt for a blend of vegan proteins rather than a protein supplement derived from a single source. For example, choosing a blend of pea protein, brown rice protein, and hemp protein would be better than choosing soy protein.
How Much Protein Do I Require?
Generally, people concerned with their protein intake have certain athletic goals. Be it muscle building, gaining strength or athletic performance optimal protein intake is essential.
The general recommendation for a physically active individual who performs regular resistance training(lifting weights) is around 0.8 – 1.3 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
The recommendation can vary between those numbers based on fitness goals and activity levels.
Plant-based foods generally contain protease inhibitors which interfere with protein digestion. Due to this, experts advise vegans to consume around 10% more protein to compensate for this nutrient loss.
Doing so will ensure optimal muscle and strength gains.
Do I Need Vegan Protein Supplements?
As a vegan, you can definitely build muscle, gain strength and perform intensely. By meeting your protein requirements you can optimise these results.
Getting help from vegan protein supplements can definitely benefit you if you’re struggling to get enough protein on a vegan diet. However, it isn’t necessary.
Vegan protein supplements can definitely provide an edge especially if you’re a plant-based athlete. But a good diet can suffice and you don’t necessarily need supplements to maximise muscle mass, strength gains or athleticism.
There are plenty of vegan athletes, bodybuilders and fitness models that have achieved significant results on a plant-based diet. In the end, it all boils down to one thing – proper nutrition.