Without protein, we couldn’t survive. It’s the building block of life, and we need it for healthy muscles, bones and tissues.
Protein helps your body to repair after injury, builds strength and aids energy production, muscle contraction, digestion, and the creation of hormones and enzymes.
Protein also balances blood sugar and helps you to feel fuller for longer while curbing sugar cravings. It can help to prevent sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass and strength associated with ageing.
Due to its higher thermic effects compared to carbohydrates and fats, protein can help to speed metabolism and burn calories. This, teamed with its ability to slow down sugar release and aid satiety, can facilitate weight loss as part of a healthy diet. It may also have a slight beneficial effect on blood pressure, particularly plant protein.
Why it’s vital to get enough plant protein when skipping meat
Most people should be getting enough protein in their diet. But if you are vegan, vegetarian or significantly reducing meat protein, then it pays to make sure you are getting enough complete protein in your diet. The way to ensure this is to eat a balanced diet with a diverse array of foods.
Generally speaking, the average healthy adult needs 0.75g of protein per kg of body weight every day. For example, if you weigh 70kg, you will need roughly 52.5g of protein daily.
Strength and endurance athletes need more protein, approximately 1.2-1.7g per kg of body weight per day. If you intensely work out, you may also need a little more than a standard healthy adult.
It’s best to spread your protein quota throughout your day, eating healthy protein with every meal. When eating a mainly plant-based diet, it’s best to eat a wide variety of plant protein foods to ensure you are getting all of the essential amino acids which your body can’t make itself.
Proteins consist of chains of amino acids, the combination and characteristics of each vary from protein to protein. Out of the 20 amino acids, there are nine essential ones which adults need to get from their diet. These are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine and histidine.
Plant foods which contain essential amino acids include soy products such as tempeh or tofu, nuts, and pulses including chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and edamame beans.
They are also in legumes, quinoa and other whole grains, seeds including pumpkin and sunflower seeds, a mixture of vegetables including leafy greens, cauliflower, mushrooms, broccoli and peas. Kelp, spirulina, seaweed and other sea vegetables are also good sources.
If you choose to eat soybeans and soy-based products, eat organic as the majority of it is GMO.
Worried you’re not getting enough plant protein? Try supplementing
As mentioned above, if you eat a natural diet, rich in a diverse array of whole grains, nuts, seeds, pulses, legumes and rainbow coloured vegetables, you should be getting enough healthy plant-based protein.
A comprehensive protein powder isn’t a substitute for a balanced diet. But if you are concerned that there are days when you’re not getting enough protein, fruits or vegetables, you work out intensely or are an athlete; it may be a useful addition.
Protein may help you to recover more quickly from a workout, reducing muscle damage and soreness, so taking a protein powder may be beneficial in this instance.
If you are older and concerned about sarcopenia and find it hard to add all the necessary plant foods to your diet, it may provide the extra protein boost that you need.
Some evidence shows that older people require more than the recommended daily amount of protein; it can improve health and lifespan as well as slow down muscle wastage.
A good quality plant-based protein powder may also benefit someone suffering from physical trauma, with a reduced appetite as a result of illness or old age, or wounds that are slow to heal.
What to look for in a plant-based protein powder
What you need is a well-rounded supplement that provides nutritional support for your whole body. It needs to have used extraction methods that retain the nutrients of the plant foods, which ideally should come from organic sources.
The powder should provide complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Also, look for one that has no, or little added sugar and certainly no hidden sugars.
Look out for ingredients like maltodextrin, dextrin, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, crystal dextrose, fruit juice, rice syrup, agave and other fruit nectars.
You also need to be aware of pesticides, chemicals, toxins, heavy metals and other contaminants with potential cancer links.
If you are concerned, do your research to find out which ingredients might be higher, and how and where the powder is manufactured.
How have the plants been grown? Where have they been sourced? There could be toxicity in the soil. Choosing organic will undoubtedly ease the chemical and pesticide burden. Looking at the ethics and testing of the manufacturer is also a must.
Maximum Vibrance, Superfood Protein Powder
Maximum Vibrance is an extremely comprehensive plant protein powder and an original formula. It utilises ingredients that work synergistically, providing a potent and effective nutritionally dense supplement. One serving provides you with 23g of protein. It also contains probiotics, vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes and antioxidants that nutritionally support your whole body.
Ingredients of the highest standard are carefully sourced from all over the world and rigorously tested for nutritional analysis and heavy metal poisoning. The finished product is also sent to a third party NELAP-accredited lab for testing.
It contains over 100 ingredients including certified organic grasses, concentrated plant nutrition and super fruits. Maximum Vibrance has been created to help you achieve optimum health and possesses the kind of goodness that taps into your ancient biochemistry.
It’s hard to find such an extensive, power-packed all-in-one supplement. The only essential nutrients missing from this powder is omega-3 fats as they are hard to achieve in powder form.
It comes in both chocolate and original flavours and can be used either as a meal replacement (two scoops) or nutritious snack (one scoop). Add it to a smoothie, water or a milk of your choice.
Superfood Protein Powder
If you like things to be 100% organic and sugar-free, Superfood Protein by Ground-Based Nutrition is an excellent choice. It combines natural multi-source plant proteins, greens, prebiotic fibre, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats (from coconut oil) and digestive enzymes.
It’s vegan, gluten and soy-free and available in chocolate, vanilla and natural flavours.
This full-bodied powder is suitable as a meal replacement or snack and can be stirred into your smoothie, water, or milk of choice. The digestive enzymes are a valuable digestive aid that can aid symptoms such as low stomach acid, bloating, cramps and diarrhoea as well as benefitting your overall health.
The comprehensive wholefood ingredients list includes peas, broccoli, kale, cranberry, spirulina, chlorella and maca root. Superfood Protein is also notable for its great taste.
A two-scoop serving provides approximately 20% of your daily protein allowance and is low carb.
Without protein, we couldn’t survive. It’s vital for a host of biological processes and bodily functions. There is a standard recommended amount of 0.75g of protein per kg of body weight per day for a healthy adult. However, if you are an athlete, intensely workout, are maturing, elderly, recovering from illness or physical trauma, or have wounds that are slow to heal, you could benefit from consuming more.
If you are eating a balanced, whole food diet with a vast array of brightly coloured vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes and pulses, you should be getting enough protein. But, if you are concerned that you are not getting enough, for whatever reason, then boosting your intake with a complete, plant-based protein powder could be highly beneficial.
Choosing a nutrient-dense one with a well-considered and comprehensive combination of ingredients is also a practical way to boost your vegetable intake. Just remember to ensure the protein powder you choose contains the finest, purest ingredients that are toxin-free.
Written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback
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Protein may help you to recover more quickly from a workout, reducing muscle damage and soreness. #protein #workout