All About Amino Acids
Our body converts protein into amino acids to be used to repair and rebuild muscles. A complete protein source is one that provides certain amounts of all essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Essential amino acids need to be consumed in diet. While not all plant-based sources of protein contain all essential amino acids in the proportions your body needs, eating a variety of foods, like beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains or consuming a protein shake like Vega Sport® Protein can provide a complete amino acid profile.
Warning: Dont Ignore Amino Acids
All protein is not created equally. Protein is made up of amino acids, and there are certain ones, called essential, which your body cannot produce on its own and must get through food.
As long as youre eating a wide variety of whole foods a good practice to follow for many reasons youre probably getting a nice mix of amino acids. One, though, thats particularly tough for vegetarians to get, is lysine, as explained in this article on protein from Vegan Health.
Only a few vegan foods contain lysine in large amounts, but fortunately, theyre staples in many of our diets: tempeh, tofu, and legumes. If you dont eat beans or soy, because of allergies or some other reason, youll need to pay special attention to lysine, and it might be worth considering an amino acid supplement.
See another No Meat Athlete article for a breakdown of various plant-based protein sources and their amino acid content.
Do You Have To Stop Eating Meat
A 2016 study of 131,342 people found that trading just 3 percent of calories from red meat for an equivalent amount of plant protein resulted in a 12 percent lower risk of dying from any cause. If plant protein replaced processed red meatsuch as deli meat or hot dogsit equated to a 34 percent lower risk of death.
A recent review published in the journal Circulation analyzed 36 studies comparing diets high in red meat with diets high in other types of animal and plant protein. The researchers found that eating plant protein in place of red meat resulted in a 10.20 mg/dL decrease in total cholesterol and a 7.65 mg/dL decrease in LDL cholesterol. But even swapping a single serving of red meat with an equivalent amount of nuts or soybeans resulted in improved cholesterol levels. And a 2018 study that compared a low-calorie vegetarian diet with a low-calorie Mediterranean diet, which includes moderate amounts of meat, poultry, and fish, found that the two were equally effective at promoting weight loss.
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The Dangers Of Animal Protein
It might seem wise to err on the side of getting too much protein. But doing so poses health risks, particularly if youre consuming animal protein: A growing body of research demonstrates a link between animal protein intake and serious health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
A 2018 study of more than 81,000 people found that regular meat consumption was associated with a 60 percent increase in the risk of heart disease. High consumption of animal protein was associated with early death in a 2019 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Another 2019 study found that white meat is as cholesterol-raising as red meat. In a cohort study published in 2014, high protein intake, especially from animal sources, was associated with elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes.And despite a common assumption that eating more protein can be helpful in achieving weight-loss goals, eating animal protein is actually associated with weight gain.
Animal protein is a major cause of weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, and cancer,says Michelle McMacken, MD, director of the Adult Weight Management Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue in New York City. Contrary to popular perception excess protein does not make us stronger or leaner. Excess protein is stored as fat or turned into waste.
Can Excess Plant Protein Be Dangerous?
Other Types Of Cancer
A soy-rich diet may also help lower your risk of other types of cancer, including endometrial, colon, stomach, and prostate cancers.
For instance, a recent review of 23 studies linked soy-rich diets to a 12% lower risk of dying from cancer, especially cancers of the stomach, large intestine, and lungs .
Another review of 13 studies linked high intakes of soy isoflavones to a 19% lower risk of endometrial cancer .
Moreover, other studies suggest that soy-rich diets may reduce the risk of gut cancers by 7% and colon or colorectal cancers by 812%, especially in women (
Therefore, more research is needed before recommendations can be made.
Research suggests that tofu may safeguard against breast, gut, and prostate cancers. However, more studies are necessary before specific recommendations can be made.
Tofu may also protect against type 2 diabetes.
A 2020 review of studies concluded that participants who regularly ate tofu were less likely to develop this condition .
In another study, women with gestational diabetes who ate a diet rich in soy protein for 6 weeks had significantly lower blood sugar and insulin levels than those who ate no soy protein .
The soy isoflavones found in tofu may be partly responsible. However, a 2017 study on the beneficial effects of soy foods for type 2 diabetes failed to find a direct link for tofu specifically (
Although these results are promising, studies are limited and more research is needed.
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It Is Very Nutritious
Nutritional yeast is a great source of protein, B vitamins and trace minerals.
Fortified nutritional yeast contains more B vitamins than unfortified varieties, as extra amounts are added during manufacturing.
However, unfortified varieties still contain a moderate amount of B vitamins, which form naturally as the yeast grows.
Some of the main nutritional benefits of nutritional yeast include:
- It is a complete protein: Nutritional yeast contains all nine essential amino acids that humans must get from food. One tablespoon contains 2 grams of protein, making it an easy way for vegans to add high-quality protein to meals (
- , 4).
Exact nutritional values vary between brands, so always read labels to find the variety that meets your needs.
If you are using nutritional yeast to add extra vitamins and minerals to your diet, look for fortified varieties with higher amounts of added nutrients.
If you are using nutritional yeast simply for its flavor, you may be less concerned about whether it is fortified or not.
Summary Fortified nutritional yeast is a vegan-friendly source of complete protein, B vitamins and trace minerals required for optimal health.
How Much Protein Do Most Of Us Get
Science shows that most of us already get more protein than we need.
In 2013, the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics the largest study to date comparing the nutrient intake of more than 71,000 non-vegetarians, vegetarians, and vegans. The study found that, on average, vegetarians and vegans get 70 percent more protein than they need every day , while non-vegetarians get even more than that .
Without even trying, you are most likely getting more protein than you needwhether youre a vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore. Protein deficiency is almost exclusively seen in people suffering from a calorie deficiency. In these cases, the concern should be getting more calories and more of all nutrientsnot just protein.
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Tips For Boosting Protein On A Plant
Dont worry about meeting your protein needs on a plant-based, flexitarian, vegetarian, or vegan dietjust follow these 6 expert tips for boosting protein.
Are you worried about getting enough protein if you are switching to a plant-based diet, whether its flexitarian, vegetarian, or vegan? Have no fear, because there is plenty of protein in plant sources to go aroundits completely possible to meet your needs if you plan wisely! Indeed, many plant protein sources are rich in all of the essential amino acids, and your body is able to create a pool of amino acids that can allow you to synthesize proteins in your body. For years, people have worried over adequate protein intake in plant-based offerings, however, there are a variety of whole plants that are great sources, including soy foods, pulses, nuts, seeds, and grains. Even veggies can contribute to your total protein intake! Whether you are trying to improve your plant-based diet pattern, or are newly transiting to a plant-based diet, there are many ways to ensure you are consuming enough protein for optimal health. Once you master these tips, you wont have to worry about whether youre getting enough protein each day.
Ask A Nutritionist: What Are The Best Sources Of Plant
Maybe youve heard of the EAT-Lancet Commission Report that outlines a healthy-people, healthy-planet eating pattern. This report, which was developed by 37 scientists and released earlier this year, found that the best diet for both people and the planet includes a variety of plant-based foods, is low in animal proteins, favors unsaturated over saturated fats, and limits refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugars.
Evidence suggests this pattern of eating is linked with a longer life expectancy, and just as importantly, a quality of life that includes a healthier body and mind.
Eating more plant-based foods can do your body a world of good. Past studies show this eating pattern may reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes promote a slimmer waistline and healthier body weight provide higher levels of important nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, iron, folate, and fiber reduce inflammation and oxidative stress that can promote cell damage , and promotes a sharper mind with fewer memory problems over time.
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Can Athletes Get Enough Protein On A Vegan Diet
Protein is essential for building muscle mass, so naturally, an athlete will need to consume more protein than the average person who exercises a moderate amount. Some believe for an athlete to truly get enough protein, they need to consume vast quantities of meat, like steak. However, this is not the case.
In fact, many athletes are choosing to go vegan and staying on top of their game, some are even improving. Take Hulda B Waage for example, nicknamed the Vegan Viking. Powerlifter Waage beat three of her own national records at her second European competition back in May as her nickname suggests, she eats nothing but a plant-based diet.
Racing car driver Lewis Hamilton, premier league footballer Héctor Bellerín, and rugby player Timana Tahu are just some other well-known athletes who are excelling in their fields, without the need to consume any animal products.
According to Mangels, vegan athletes can easily get enough protein without taking supplements. They just need to be eating a large variety of the right foods .
Vegan athletes protein needs can range from 0.36 to 0.86 grams of protein per pound, she explains. Protein supplements are not needed to achieve even the highest level of protein intake.
Why Choose More Plant
Shifting dietary patterns to reduce meat consumption and include more protein plants can bring great benefits to both our health and the planet.
Besides having a lower environmental footprint, whole plant foods, such as pulses, legumes and vegetables tend to provide more fibre and antioxidants while being lower in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol compared to animal proteins such as meat and dairy. This is part of the reason why research suggests that people who eat more plant-based tend to have a lower risk of some diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.1
You can read more about the benefits of plant-based diets here.
Trying to eat more plant-based can also make us more creative in the kitchen and reach for foods or ingredients that otherwise we would not consider. This will not only introduce us to a surprising new range of flavours and textures, but also expand the range of beneficial nutrients and compounds that we get from our diets!
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Will I Get A Enough Protein With A Plant
A common concern among many meat eaters who are thinking about transitioning to more of a plant-based lifestyle is if they will get enough protein in their diet. Even if you have already adopted plant-based lifestyle, its important to focus on getting this key nutrient in your diet to give your body the fuel it needs to stay strong, healthy and energized.
Traditionally, we think of meats and dairy products as the go-to sources for protein, but did you know that there are many plant-based foods that contain adequate amounts of this muscle-building nutrient?
What Are The Best Sources Of Protein
The bottom line: The best sources of protein are whole plant foods, which provide ample protein without any cholesterol.
Ready to get started? Check out Forks Meal Planner, FOKs easy weekly meal-planning tool to keep you on a healthy plant-based path. To learn more about a whole-food, plant-based diet, visit our Plant-Based Primer.
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What Are Some Easy Ways To Incorporate Plant
According to Sass, when you’re eating healthfully, the bulk of your meals should be plant-based anyway: veggies, a plant-based fat, like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, or tahini and a whole grain or starchy veggie, like quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato or spaghetti squash.
That means the only switch you need to make is to trade your meat for a plant alternative, which is easier than you think, she says. For many people, when they think about what to make for dinner they focus on meat first. Change that pattern by adding pulses and pea protein-based meat substitutes to your protein list, she suggests.
To get more comfortable with plant proteins, Jackie Newgent, RDN and author of “The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook”, recommends starting off with plant protein-rich ingredients, like peanut butter or hummus, which youre already acquainted with and then taking it from there. For instance, if youre already enjoying hummus as a dip, use it as a sandwich spread or a toast topper, she says.
Amy Gorin, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition, suggests a similar approach in this case, for smoothie lovers: Blend plant proteins, like edamame, tofu, or canned chickpeas in for a protein punch. These mix-ins pick up the flavors of the other ingredients, and so they wont taste as strong as if you were to eat them alone.
Try this recipe:High Protein Vanilla Bean Smoothie
Try this recipe: Vegan Breakfast Tacos
How Much Protein Do Most Of Us Really Need
For the general population, getting 1015 percent of daily calories from protein is sufficient. This is true even for people who lead an active lifestyle.
Government-issued recommendations for protein intake have varied over the years. Currently, the U.S. governments protein RDA is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. The World Health Organization, on the other hand, recommends 0.66 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a 140-pound person, the U.S. RDA translates to about 50 grams of protein a day if that person consumes 2,000 calories in a day, 50 grams of protein is exactly 10 percent of total calories.
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Plant Vs Animal Protein
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a minimum daily protein intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about 60 g for a person who weighs 165 pounds. People aiming to build muscle, pregnant or nursing women, and older adults may need more protein.
Animal products such as meat, eggs, and milk are naturally high in protein, which is an essential nutrient made up of amino acids. This makes it easier for people who consume animal products to meet their daily protein needs.
The human body creates 11 amino acids but must get another nine from food. Animal products are complete proteins, meaning they contain all the amino acids. Some plant products, such as soya beans and quinoa, are also complete proteins while others are incomplete proteins.
A person following a vegan or vegetarian diet
A diet free of animal products requires planning and research to ensure a persons nutritional needs are met. For some, this is a benefit, as it encourages them to think about their diet and understand the nutritional content of the foods they eat. For others, it can prove challenging and lead to nutritional deficits.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stated in that people on vegetarian or vegan diets are at a lower risk of various illnesses, including:
Dont We Need Protein From Animal Sources
Until recently, researchers hadnt been sure whether plant-based protein aids your tired muscles as well as meat. However, the results of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that plant protein and animal protein appear to benefit muscle health equally. This further substantiated by an article released at the International Society of Sports Nutrition Symposium, with the statement, With a proper combination of sources, vegetable proteins may provide similar benefits as protein from animal sources.
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