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The Impact of the Plant-Based Revolution on the Fitness Industry

The Impact of the Plant-Based Revolution on the Fitness Industry

The Impact of the Plant-Based Revolution on the Fitness Industry

Our approach to food is starting to change on a grand scale. There’s always been differing preferences out there when it comes to the contents of one’s diet and a lot of that just boils down to personal taste. But then there’s the other side of it. The side that breeds a little bit more conflict between separate groups, and perhaps justifiably so.

While most humans have followed an omnivorous diet throughout history, plant-based diets have also been popular for a long time. In some cases, people will adopt said diet for health reasons, but ethics are the usual reason and that’s where things have historically gotten a little controversial.

Now that we have gotten pretty deep into the 21st century, our understanding of our bodies and how different foods affect us has advanced quite a bit. And it is becoming more and more clear that not only is a plant-based diet perfectly healthy, but if you approach it correctly then you can still reach your full fitness potential.

What we have come to realise is that meat is not an essential component of high-level fitness. For the purposes of this article, let’s imagine that you are an athlete and you have decided to shift to an entirely plant-based diet. What is your diet going to look like now? Let's discuss…

How to Source Plant Protein

As anyone who takes their fitness seriously knows, one of the most important aspects of building muscle is your protein intake. Proteins are made up of amino acids which build and repair muscle and bone in your body.

When we think about protein, our mind instantly jumps to things like red meat, cheese, fish and eggs. And obviously none of these things would fall into a plant-based diet. This is what leads a lot of people to believe that it’s impossible for vegans to build any muscle.

That’s not the case however; there are actually a number of somewhat lesser-known foods which you can get more than enough protein from. You need look no further than lentils for this. A member of the legume family, the nutritional value of legumes is shockingly vast.

100 grams of lentils contains 9 grams of protein. Now if you consider the fact that for a diet of about 2,500 calories, which is fairly standard for an average sized athlete, you would only need about 80-90g of protein per day, you can get more than 10% of that from 100g of lentils.

They are cheap, easy to prepare and you can adapt them to a lot of different meals which makes them basically a superfood. Vegans can also get protein from chickpeas, quinoa, black beans and a variety of nuts so there are a lot of options here.

RelatedPlant-Based Protein Foods – A Guide

Gaining Weight

Getting enough protein is one thing, but fitness and muscle building also requires eating a certain amount of calories every single day. And again, people tend not to associate calories with fruit and vegetables.

The actual reality is that plant-based products which are high in calories are actually significantly healthier than meat products which offer the same effect.

Think about avocados. A single avocado has over 300 calories, but the fats and fibre present are heart-healthy. You will also get Vitamin C and potassium out of an avocado too.

A single cup of quinoa, meanwhile, contains about 220 calories, and is also high in other important nutrients such as folate and manganese.

There’s also rice, sweet potatoes and nut butters which are all high in calories too, so there’s really no shortage of plant-based foods out there which can help to beef people up.

What About Nutritional Supplements?

The prevalence of supplements is a big part of the impact the plant-based revolution is having on fitness. But in a way, there’s a little bit of a misconception surrounding it. Vegans and vegetarians don’t necessarily need supplements, we’ve just realised how beneficial including supplements in our diet actually is.

B12 is the big one. This is the vitamin that everyone associates with veganism, and the reality is that yes, vegans should be taking a B12 supplement, but so should a lot of meat-eaters. An awful lot of people are low in this vitamin.

Similarly, vitamin D is an essential one that a lot of people are lacking. You can get it from meat and eggs but most of your vitamin D will come from sunlight. There’s nothing about a plant-based diet which is going to contribute to a lack of sunlight and so this can be a requirement for both.

Everybody is different of course, and some vegans may want to try something like a plant-based protein powder if they personally feel like they’re lacking in that regard. But as mentioned above, what this revolution has opened our eyes to is the fact that there are nutrients and vitamins that even meat-eaters are lacking in. 

And supplementing them will benefit your gains and your progress in terms of fitness no matter what your diet is primarily made of. 

Conclusion

Not only is a plant-based diet perfectly healthy, but if you approach it correctly, you can still reach your full fitness potential.

In answer to the main question posed by this article, the fitness industry has been impacted by the plant-based revolution in a major way, because it has allowed us to discover that there is nothing stopping us from building a lot of muscle and reaching peak physical fitness without animal products. 

With the knowledge and resources that we now possess, your diet can be entirely plant-based and no longer be a barrier to your physical progression. Don’t believe us? Just ask some of the world’s top vegan athletes.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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green powder in white bowl

Plant-Based Protein Foods: A Guide for Vegetarians

Posed to a vegetarian, there are few questions more maddening than “Where do you get your protein?”

Invariably the person who has sworn off meat will roll their eyes before launching into an impassioned sermon about the multitudinous plant protein sources available to them.

In this article, we’ll cover the primary plant-based protein foods so that you can be in no doubt that vegetarians are getting all the protein they need, thank you very much.

The Popularity of Plant-Based Diets


Clearly the switch to a meat-free diet can be motivated by a number of factors, not least the perceived health benefits or ethical concerns.

And though care must to be taken to avoid nutritional deficiencies – specifically omega-3, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin B12 – there is absolutely no reason why a vegetarian diet cannot be both healthy and sustainable.

As far as protein is concerned, nature has generously endowed us with an abundance of protein-rich whole foods, comprising veggies, legumes and nuts.

Modern manufacturing has also given us the option of meat substitutes: they look and taste like meat but were conceived in a laboratory (see: Quorn).

As we all know, protein is an essential component of a healthy, balanced diet and in truth, most people could benefit from getting more than the 0.75g per kilogram of body weight specified by the UK Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI).

Particularly if you’re accustomed to strength training and wish to maintain or gain lean muscle tissue.

Is it just as easy for a vegetarian or vegan to hit their daily protein targets, when compared to a carnivore? Well, that depends on the target.

0.75g per kg of body weight should be a breeze, but 1.5g may be trickier – though not impossible.

To make the process easier, we’ve listed the best plant-based protein foods below. Make sure that no meal is lacking in this important muscle-building macronutrient.

The Top 10 Plant-Based Protein Foods


1. Natto

Natto is a highly nutritious fermented food popular throughout Japan, where it is served with cooked rice and topped with chives and various seasonings.

Boasting 31g of protein in a single cup, it’s a plant protein powerhouse!

2. Seitan

Seitan, also known as wheat meat, is one of the planet’s richest sources of protein.

Made from gluten (one to avoid if you’re celiac or gluten-sensitive!), it has the look and texture of meat and absorbs flavours well. One 3.5 ounce serving yields 25g of protein.

3. Tempeh

Tempeh, like natto, belongs to the soybean family, meaning it’s classed as a ‘complete protein’.

Essentially fermented cooked soybeans pressed into a thick patty, the dense, nutty food can be used as a meat substitute in virtually any dish. Protein-wise, you’re looking at 19g per 100 grams.

4. Spirulina

A blue-green sea algae most commonly known for its detoxifying properties, spirulina is so bursting with protein that it’s regularly described as the the most nutrient-dense food on the planet.

Indeed, one tablespoon provides about 16g of the good stuff. For this reason, spirulina is commonly found in plant protein supplements.

5. Chickpeas

Chickpeas – known by our American friends as garbanzo beans – are protein-packed legumes famed for their excellent nutritional profile.

Containing about 15g of protein per cooked cup, they taste great in wraps, in vegan curries and burgers, and in both soups and salads.

6. Nutritional Yeast

While it’s true that nutritional yeast is more of a condiment than a food, it’s one of the very best sources of vitamin B-12 you’ll find in the natural world.

The cheesy-tasting flakes boast 14g of protein per ounce and are best sprinkled over pasta dishes or stirred into soups.

7. Pumpkin Seeds

Another great source of complete protein are pumpkin seeds – which also happen to be repositories of healthy fats and minerals like zinc and magnesium.

One cup of pumpkin seeds yields 12g of protein, making them great for scattering over salads or mixing into your morning porridge/pancake mix.

8. Hemp Seeds

They might not be as protein-rich as pumpkin seeds, but hemp seeds are nonetheless an excellent source, yielding 9 crunchy grams per serving.

They’re also notable for their high fibre content, healthy fats (omega-3 and omega-6) and complete amino acid profile. Sprinkle a few tablespoons’ worth in a salad, add to yogurt or soup, or chuck in a smoothie.

9. Tofu

Like natto, tempeh and seitan, tofu is a great meat-free base. Made from curdled soy milk, it’s super easy to toss in a wok and fry with vegetables and rice.

However, since it’s soy-based and unfermented it’s best to buy organic to avoid nasty GMOs. A 100g serving contains just over 8g of protein, including all essential amino acids.

10. Quinoa

Quinoa is often dubbed a superfood, and for good reason: not only is it an excellent plant-based protein food due to its complete spread of amino acids but it’s absolutely brimming with fibre (5g per serving).

In addition to supplying at least 25% of your daily phosphorus, magnesium and manganese, a cup of quinoa yields 8g of protein. Given that quinoa is more of a side dish, it makes the perfect accompaniment for one of the top three foods in this rundown.

What About Plant Protein Supplements?

“What about plant-based protein powders?” you may be wondering. Yes, as with meat-eaters, these supplements can be highly useful in helping you reach your daily quota.

However, real food should always be the focus.

Plant protein powders come in several different forms, though most rely on hemp, pea or brown rice. Some, like Vibrant Health’s Maximum Vibrance, derive their protein from several sources: yellow pea, sprouted brown rice, spirulina and chlorella.

Because it’s made from whole food ingredients, it’s a bit of a disservice to label Maximum Vibrance a ‘supplement’. One serving supplies 20g protein, in addition to over 100% of your daily vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D3 and vitamin E.

Perhaps of most interest to vegetarians, Maximum Vibrance supplies appreciable amounts of calcium (10%), zinc (30%) and iron (50%) per serving. The multi-supplement’s blend of vegetables, fruit, cereal grasses and botanicals make it a fantastic option.

If you’re worried about missing out on omega-3s, meanwhile, consider using cold-pressed organic flaxseed oil.

A good-quality flax oil should be made entirely from flax seeds, nature’s richest fish-free source of essential fatty acids. We can vouch for the Omega Nutrition brand, having stocked their products in the past.

Conclusion

By incorporating more of the foods listed above, you’ll be sure to hit your daily protein targets. If you’re struggling for inspiration, there are many good cookbooks for those following a plant-based diet. 

Remember, a plant protein supplement like Maximum Vibrance can help you meet your goals, particularly as it is made from concentrated fruit and vegetables. But the focus should always be on preparing and cooking your own food, from scratch.

Want to know about more high-protein veggies? This article by Prevention.com delves a little deeper.

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array of vegan food, veggie protein sources: Tofu, vegan milk, beans, lentils, nuts, soy milk, spinach and seeds. Top view on white table.

Why Plant Proteins are Preferable to Animal Proteins

Why Plant Proteins are Preferable to Animal Proteins

Recently we discussed the best vegetarian protein sources available to us, and why everyone would benefit from reducing their intake of meat. This was in a sense borne out by a new Imperial College London study illustrating the huge health benefits of eating ten portions of fruit and veg per day: meeting this ambitious quota will probably necessitate a reduction in the amount of meat we eat too. As far as health goes, you’re unlikely to read a study that recommends eating ten chicken breasts or steaks per day!

Going Green Promotes Better Overall Health

Going green is sometimes an ethical decision, motivated either by environmental awareness or a deep love of animals. But increasingly we are coming to understand that eating less meat and more fruit and vegetables reduces the likelihood of inflammation and cardiovascular heart disease.

There are many, many reasons for this. One concerns the antioxidants in plants, which help prevent the free radical damage associated with a hardening of the arteries.

Another is that dietary fibre in fruits and vegetables helps promote healthy blood pressure and safe cholesterol levels while also decreasing our cancer risk.

Moreover, key nutrients such as B-vitamins and beta-carotene have been shown to protect heart health and stave off disease.

Of course, it’s not stepping out on a limb to say that fruit and vegetables are good for us. But many people are unaware that animal proteins can be bad for us.

Consider, for example, the hormones, antibiotics and carcinogens in many different forms of meat. Reflect on the dearth of dietary fibre so essential to keeping our digestive tracts healthy.

Which is not to say you can’t live a perfectly healthy life unless you adopt a plant-based diet; you certainly can.

But it’s objectively better to eat more fruit and vegetables, which are dense in antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, than meat, which is deficient in many of these departments. The health implications are obvious.

But Does a Plant-Based Diet Support Athletic Performance?

While we’re sometimes fed the line that athletes must eat meat in order to excel in the rarefied world of competitive sport, it is simply not the case.

Take former heavyweight boxing champion David Haye, for instance, who adopted a plant-based diet several years ago with no identifiable decline in performance.

In fact, Haye says cutting out meat has actually bolstered his energy levels. Speaking in February, he said: “I feel better than ever, I look and feel younger. People say, ‘Where do you get your strength from?’ I say, where does an ape get his strength from? He’s 20 times stronger than a human and doesn’t have a meat-based diet. They eat plants all day long. It’s a myth that you need meat for strength.”

But what motivated the brawny boxer to go green in the first place?

It started when I was injured and was researching the best diets to heal muscles. All roads kept leading back to a plant-based diet, and when you look at the horrible way animals are treated, that made it easier to switch.”

Haye isn’t the only top sportsperson to enjoy continued success in his field after adopting a plant-based diet. From world champion figure skaters and marathon runners to cyclists and even bodybuilders, the world of high-performance sport is not short of vegan and vegetarian adherents.

Many speak of shorter recovery times, improved mental focus and higher energy levels.

This all dovetails nicely with the results of a recent study into protein sources by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

AJCN researchers looked into the health records of nearly 3,000 men and women and found that plant proteins were just as effective at building muscle as meat.

Can We Get the Protein We Need from Plants?

If a 100kg boxer can sustain a Herculean physique without resorting to eating animal proteins, isn’t the question itself redundant?

The misconception that we need animal proteins to build and sustain lean muscle tissue and support health in general has been thoroughly debunked in recent years.

The plant world contains significant levels of protein, and protein which doesn’t come as a package deal with harmful elements such as hormones and toxins.

Perfect examples of plant-based proteins include raw nuts and seeds, sprouted grains like buckwheat and quinoa, legumes and leafy greens.

So-called super green algae like spirulina and chlorella are also tremendous sources of protein among other things.

Plant protein powders are now as easy to find as their animal-based equivalents.

Vibrant Health’s Maximum Vibrance is a good example: a single serving provides 20g of protein, or almost 39% of the recommended daily amount for an individual weighing 70kg (11 stone).

The premium-quality protein derives from yellow pea, sprouted brown rice, chlorella and spirulina. In addition to protein, Maximum Vibrance provides an array of beneficial micronutrients – certified organic vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, dietary fibre, probiotics – from over 8 grams of nutrient-dense plant food.

Conclusion

As we all know, making smart dietary choices is vital to optimum health. And where protein is concerned, plant-based options will almost always trump their animal equivalents.

Having said that, we do believe that some people require animal protein. Moreover, many of us could benefit from eating mostly plant-based but indulging in meat or fish once or even a few times per week.

This would mean that while we are reducing our intake of animal protein, and therefore maintaining our health while consuming plenty of plant protein in exchange, we are making a significant environmental contribution.

The important thing is to do what feels right for you. If you answer “Yes” to the question “Can I reduce my dependence on meat?” then you probably can. But above all, listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs.

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Array of vegan food, veggie protein sources: Tofu, vegan milk, beans, lentils, nuts, soy milk, spinach and seeds. Top view on white table.

The Top 5 Vegetarian Protein Sources

The Top 5 Vegetarian Protein Sources

There are many great reasons to become vegetarian.

Setting aside the ethical considerations generally at the forefront of such a decision, shunning animal products and going ‘green’ usually means upping your intake of fibre-rich vegetables that help alkalise our blood and supply a plentiful array of essential minerals, vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants.

But what about protein?

Granted, vegetarian protein sources are not as abundant as we’d like: but you can easily meet your daily targets if you know what to look out for.

Wondering how to get protein as a vegetarian? Then read on to learn which sources are best.

How to Get Protein as a Vegetarian


It’s difficult to know how much protein we should aim to get daily; energy and nutrient requirements vary from person to person and depend largely on exercise levels and lifestyle.

UK guidelines suggest we should consume 45-55g per day, though many believe the number should be higher – particularly if you’re a strength athlete or even lifting the odd weight in the gym.

Protein is essential for tissue repair and muscle growth and is the second most abundant compound in the body, after water.

Obviously protein-rich foods like meat and fish are off limits for vegetarians and vegans, which in some sense is a shame given they contain the full range of essential amino acids required in an adult’s diet.

However, there’s no shortage of high protein foods for vegetarian diets. These include nuts and pulses, so-called green superfoods, tofu, seeds, grains, mycoprotein and legumes such as soya.

The very best are listed below. Work these into your diet and you’ll never again bemoan a lack of vegetarian protein sources!

The Top 5 Vegetarian Protein Sources

1. Seitan

Never heard of seitan? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you all you need to know about this pure vegetarian protein.

Made from wheat gluten, it’s sometimes referred to as “wheat meat” owing to its crazy high protein content: 21 grams per ounce, to be precise.

Iron-rich and low in fat, seitan is a popular vegetarian meat substitute due to its chewy texture and savoury flavour. Popular throughout Asia, it’s highly adaptable and can be employed in a number of vegetarian dishes.

2. Quinoa

Like steak and chicken, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it one of the few vegetarian protein sources that qualifies as a ‘complete protein’.

Yielding 8g of the good stuff per cooked cup, quinoa is also brimming with iron and magnesium and can stand in for rice in vegetarian curries.

3. Almonds

Almonds easily make the grade, beating other meat-free protein sources to enter the top five. Containing 21.2g of protein per 100g, almonds are also rich sources of monounsaturated fats which have been shown in several studies to reduce heart disease.

Spread almond butter on your toast, crush a handful into your salad or crunch them as a snack. You can also make delicious smoothies using almond milk.

4. Lentils

Your bowl of lentil soup is healthier than you think: a single cup of lentils provides a staggering 18g of vegetarian protein, making the pulse a true protein powerhouse.

While it’s not a complete protein source like quinoa or soybeans, it’s a doddle to work lentils into your diet: they crop up in dahls and soups and can be incorporated in pasta sauces, veggie burgers, dips and salads.

5. Soybeans

Soybeans pack more protein than any other bean. Boil a cup of soybeans and you can look forward to 28g of protein, the same amount as you’d get from scarfing 150g of chicken.

As stated, soybeans are also one of very few meat-free protein sources classed as ‘complete’. Moreover, soybeans are excellent sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.

They’re also packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre. If you’re not eating them already, you should be.

Other Great Vegetarian Protein Sources

If you eat a diet rich in the aforementioned foods, you won’t have to worry about hitting your daily protein targets – and you certainly won’t contemplate returning to meat.

Some days though, you might struggle to find the time to prepare home-made lentil soup or a soybean salad. At such times, a plant-based protein supplement can come in handy.

Step forward, Maximum Vibrance. Widely regarded as the most comprehensive all-in-one supplement on the planet, this superfood powder is fairly packed with nature’s most alkalising fruits and vegetables.

Its 20g of plant protein per serving certainly makes it one of the best non-meat protein sources available, and it’s also teeming with 25 billion probiotics from 12 different strains.

Conclusion

Bottom line: vegetarians and vegans needn’t sacrifice protein (or any other nutrient) just because they’re averse to meat.

Vegetarian-friendly protein sources are plentiful, generally rich in vitamins and minerals and the perfect complement to a healthy lifestyle.

Of course, you don’t need to follow a plant-based diet to benefit from protein-rich, meat-free food sources. All carnivores should make a special effort to enjoy nutritious vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Even better if you can set aside one or two days a week where you swear off meat. You’ll almost certainly feel the benefits.

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Meal Replacement Shakes – How Healthy Are They?

Meal replacement shakes are a terrific invention. They are perfect for drinking on the go or whenever you need a nutritious breakfast or lunch but don’t have time to prepare a healthy dish. But if you're not careful, you could be doing yourself more harm than good by ingesting nothing more than a glorified sugary drink.

The next time you think you’re improving your nutrition and cutting calories by replacing your daily lunch with a meal replacement shake, make sure your shake is truly nutritious. Here’s what you need to watch out for.

Health Benefits and Hidden Risks of Meal Replacement Shakes

Meal replacement shakes have lots of benefits. They can be whipped up in no time at all and are easily portable for whenever you need a quick boost of energy. But many are not healthy and include an overload of sugar that makes you gain more weight, acidifies the body and causes nutrient loss.

  1. Weight Loss

Meal replacement shakes are an excellent way to control calorie intake, as they are generally lower in calories than most meals. Because of this, they are generally used for weight loss. As a high protein intake has been associated with increased weight loss, glugging a protein shake as a meal replacement is a good way to cut out unrefined carbohydrates and save room for the good stuff.

According to a 2003 study, subjects who followed a meal replacement plan experienced significant weight loss and improved weight-related disease. Another 2010 study found that meal replacement plans were more effective than food-based diets in achieving weight loss.

The study found that participants who followed meal replacement plans also experienced a decline in inflammation and oxidative stress, which are known to cause disease.

Tip: Avoid meal replacement shakes that are high in calories or refined sugar, which will make you gain more weight and create an acidic environment in the body, where disease is free to thrive. Make sure your meal replacement shake is plant-based and does not contain hidden sugar or chemicals that may be working against your desired weight loss goals. Plant-based meal replacement shakes containing antioxidants help you naturally achieve weight loss by removing toxins from the body.

  1. Instant Energy

Meal replacements shakes are quickly absorbed, so they are ideal for when you need some energy right away, like during a busy workday when you don’t have time to grab a meal.

They are also ideal post-workout meals, when you need a quick hit of protein for recovery and building muscle. Meal replacements shakes bypass most of the digestive process and are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream because they are in liquid form and do not need to be broken down. This also makes them great for when you need to give your digestive system a break after eating too many heavy or processed foods.

But if your shake contains mostly sugar and little nutrition, you are sending your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride that will leave you feeling tired, moody and hungry again in no time.

  1. Convenience

If you’re constantly running out the door without breakfast, then meal replacement shakes are brilliant. But eating nothing in the morning is better than drinking an unhealthy, sugar-laden meal replacement shake. Find a plant-based meal replacement shake full of antioxidants that can easily be added to a glass of water in the morning before you leave for work.

  1. Nutrition

Here’s the tricky part. Meal replacement shakes are advertised as a quick fix for getting in your vitamins and minerals without actually eating food. But in reality, most store-bought shakes are nothing more than a tasty dessert.

Another argument is that meal replacement shakes will never give you the nutrition you can get from real food. While eating whole food, plant-based sources of antioxidants is best, some meal replacement shakes are designed to help you control calories while still getting in optimal nutrition.

120 Nutrients in a Healthy Meal Replacement Shake is Possible

Dubbed the world's first 'futurefood', Maximum Vibrance provides an extensive width of nutrition from 120 carefully selected whole food, plant-based ingredients. It contains every nutrient the body needs, excluding omega-3 fatty acids, so it won’t make you gain weight or cause acidity like most meal replacements do.

The supplement is also a great source of plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and probiotics. Of course, plant protein is better for promoting an alkaline environment than animal protein. Unlike many meal replacement powders,

Maximum Vibrance is a truly nourishing, sugar-free meal replacement that helps keep your body in an optimum alkaline state. Your next meal is as easy as two scoops mixed with water, fruit juice or a smoothie. What could be better?

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Protein Powder

The World’s Weirdest Protein Powder

The World’s Weirdest Protein Powder

2016 was a massive year for plant protein, but it was also a year in which one unusual protein powder grew in popularity. I’m talking, of course, about protein powder made from insects.

Suffice to say the world’s weirdest protein powder divides opinion among those who’ve never before heard of it. Indeed, consumers tend to have one of two reactions: either they gag or they give a wry smile and a chirpy thumbs up.

The Seasonal Popularity of Protein

Protein is probably never more popular than in January, which should be renamed The Month of Atonement. Guilty parties, retrospectively horrified by their festive gluttony, instinctively cut down on carbs and make protein a mainstay of their diets – at least till February, when the guilt wears off and the excesses of Christmas recede into virtual nonexistence.

Why is it that protein becomes so popular in the New Year? Probably because a high-protein diet is associated with weight loss and muscle retention, while excess carbs are linked with, well, love handles. The macronutrients are sufficiently complex to make such simple characterisations laughably inadequate, but protein remains mightily important – particularly if you’re toiling in the gym to get back in shape.

Not only is protein essential for building lean muscle mass and balancing hormones, but it helps reduce hunger and tackle body fat. It also contributes towards healthy brain and cardiovascular function.

Good sources of protein include meat, eggs, fish and dairy, as well as beans, seeds, tofu, nuts and of course super greens like kale, spinach and spirulina. But those are normal sources of protein, and for the purposes of this article, they don’t interest us.

What we’re keen to talk about is the world’s weirdest protein powder – insect protein – and whether it’s a worthwhile alternative to animal or plant-based supplements.

It’s Not Cricket… It’s Cricket Protein Powder

Who’d have thunk it – insects scurrying in the undergrowth are packed with protein and bursting with valuable micronutrients, chief among them zinc and iron. There are several different arthropod powders out there (silkworm, anyone? How about locusts?), though ground crickets seems to be the most popular. The world's weirdest protein powder? Who's going to argue? Before you click off this webpage in horror, bear in mind that insects can provide protein of comparable biological value to meat and fish. In fact, they provide twice as much protein as beef, ounce for ounce, and include all of the essential amino acids.

If your curiosity is getting the better of you, you can always turn to Google: a quick search will turn up milled cricket protein powders, energy bars, roasted crickets, cricket flour… even cricket brownie mix!

Speaking of Weird Protein Sources… What About Bone Broth?

Another peculiar protein source that we heard a lot about last year was bone broth. Like any faddish foodstuff, bone broth was cheered by a small army of health conscious celebs – in this case Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek.

Described by Dr. Kellyann Petrucci as ‘liquid gold’, bone broth is made with animal bones and simmered for hours. A traditional, nutrient-rich meal that’s been repackaged as a millennial discovery, it is high in protein, good fats and easily absorbable minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

Like cricket protein, the idea of bone broth turns many people’s stomach. But what is it they say – don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Unless you’re vegetarian or vegan, of course.

Protein is Vital – Whatever the Month

Health, as they say, is wealth – and protein is an essential component of a healthy diet, whether you get it from the world’s weirdest protein powder, bone broth, pumpkin seeds, fish, chicken, eggs or milk.

Carbohydrates are not the enemy, but if you top-load your meals with refined carbs, weight gain is very likely – and you’ll miss out on the fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals present in whole grains, vegetables and fruits (so-called ‘good’ carbs).

Will crickets retain their title as the world’s weirdest protein in 2017, or will a new creation bump them off their pedestal? It’s going to be fun finding out.

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selection of seeds and kernels on a row of spoons

7 High Protein Foods for Vegetarians: Plus Supplement Options

7 High Protein Foods for Vegetarians: Plus Supplement Options

There are many plant-based protein supplements available for the vegan and vegetarian among us, and for those wishing to reduce their consumption of acidifying animal protein.

Some vegetarian protein sources such as albumin and soy have been available for several years, but many have only just been introduced, and a number of these can offer an attractive alternative, either singly or in combination.

In this blog, we list seven high-protein foods popularly used in vegetarian protein supplements. If you're looking to up your intake of protein, it is advisable to incorporate these foods into your weekly meal planning.

7 Protein Foods for Vegetarians

Pea Protein

Pea protein (derived from yellow pea) is an excellent source of readily digestible protein. It helps to satisfy the appetite better than most other vegetarian protein sources and, as a consequence, it can be used as part of a weight loss programme, as well as offering support to your kidneys and helping to nourish cells.

One of the great advantages of pea protein is that it does not have the allergy problems that some can experience from whey or soy-based sources of protein.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are high-protein seeds that contain all nine of the essential amino acids. Hemp seeds also have a high fatty acid content, and are rich in fibre, vitamin E and trace minerals.

This powerful vegetarian protein source has a balanced ratio of omega-3 to 6 fats at around a three-to-one ratio, and its protein content is very digestible.

Hemp is also free of anti-nutrients such as phytic acid, which exist in other vegetarian protein supplements like soy, and inhibit nutrient absorption.

Flaxseeds

Although flax seeds do not have as high a protein content as hemp seeds, they have other benefits which make them worth considering as a potential vegetarian protein source.

Flax seeds are the best vegetarian source of omega-3 oil, and are also the highest vegetable source of plant lignans.

Plant lignans are phytonutrients which are understood to benefit hormonal balance, systolic blood pressure and even bone health.

Spirulina

Spirulina does not immediately spring to mind as a vegetarian protein food, mainly due to its other, better-known benefits. However, this power-packed algae  is nearly 60% protein.

Of course, spirulina is best known for its width of nutrition in terms of trace nutrients and, consequently, makes a good addition to any vegetable protein supplement for that reason.

Alfalfa

Alfalfa seed is again an important ingredient in several new vegetable protein supplements. Although its protein content is not exceptionally high, it offers extensive additional nutrition in terms of fibre, Vitamins A, C and K, and some of the B vitamins, together with a number of valuable minerals.

Pumpkin Seed

Although pumpkin seeds have been used by Eastern European and Asian cultures for many decades, the nutritional value of the pumpkin has never really been appreciated until recent years.

In addition to the pumpkin seed oil, defatted pumpkin seed has a high protein content (approx 60%). It is a highly nutritious whole food offering the full range of amino acids with particularly high levels of tryptophan.

It is also probably one of the best-tasting vegetable proteins.

Rice Bran

This is another common vegetable protein supplement ingredient. Although its actual protein content is lower than those above, its other nutrients are helpful for our general health and immunity.

Among other things, it is understood to have benefit for cholesterol control and blood sugar management.

Many of the best vegetable protein powders now available are combinations of several types of vegetable protein.

These combinations give you a much wider spectrum of nutrition in addition to providing high levels of readily-digestible protein that is much less problematic in terms of allergens than soy or whey.

Maximum Vibrance: The Best Vegetarian Protein Powder

While there are several good-quality plant protein powders on the market, none comes to close to Maximum Vibrance. There are several reasons for this. It contains:

• More protein than most supplements (20/23g per serving for Vanilla/Chocolate)

• More food-derived ingredients

• More vitamins, minerals and polyphenols

• More probiotics (25 billion)

• More digestive enzymes (7)

The protein content in Maximum Vibrance comes primarily from yellow pea, although also from cracked-cell chlorella, sprouted brown rice and spirulina.

A High-Protein, Low-Carb Snack or Meal Replacement

Formulated to support nutrition, digestion, circulation and immunity, Maximum Vibrance is an alkalising combination of green vegetables, cereal grasses, fruit, algae and botanicals. It contains around 120 ingredients in total, including over 8 grams of plant food.

While some plant protein powders contain only that – plant protein – Maximum Vibrance is considered an all-in-one futurefood due to the dense nutrition it provides. Thus you can use it to increase your protein intake, build or maintain lean muscle, and help meet your daily nutritional requirements.

Simply add two scoops to water or almond milk for a high-protein, low-carb meal replacement – or one scoop for a high-protein, low-carb snack. Some people actually have a Maximum Vibrance shake instead of breakfast.

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