One common element among fitness gurus is the hunt for protein. Protein supplementation is especially important to individuals who want to increase muscle mass and strength. It becomes more challenging when the hunt is limited to vegan friendly protein sources.

Complete Plant Based Protein

There are skeptics who do not believe you can increase mass or even strengthen muscle through veggie based protein sources. There are also vegan athletes who swear that all it requires is a bit of knowledge and dedication. Nature provides numerous plant-based protein rich foods. A few are power packed on their own. Some simply need to be combined with another plant based source.

Your body breaks all macronutrients down into smaller particles. Proteins are converted to aminos acids then reconstructed to build complete proteins. Scientifically, it does not matter what the source as long as there is correct amount of each amino acid.

Amino Breakdown

There are two basic types of amino acids which include essential and non-essential. There are professionals who also refer to a third known as conditional amino acids. Your body is able to create non-essentials therefore these 11 aminos not need to come from your daily diet.

Your body is unable to synthesize essential aminos. These must be obtained through the foods that you consume every day. Conditional amino acids are a group that specific individuals are unable to synthesize naturally. This is generally due to medical issues such as severe metabolic disturbances.

These 20 amino acids are strung together to form a protein molecule chain. The 9 which must come from your diet are known as complete proteins as they are necessary to construct the chain. These crucial nine are listed below.

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Plant-Based Protein Power Punch

While meat is said to be one of the best forms of essential amino acids, it is not the only effective source. The first step to creating a vegan friendly protein power punch is understanding the level of each essential amino acids offered by plants. Some are said to provide complete protein, but many of these are slightly lacking in one amino or another.

Legumes and grains may be the most famous of all plant based protein combos. This pairing alone offers a creative variety of complete proteins. It is important to choose whole grains and bear in mind that not all grains are created equal. Try to avoid those which are overly processed and/or labeled enriched. Many nuts or seeds and whole grains may also be combined for complete protein.

Soy is an excellent source of complete protein and there are a wide range of products made from these little wonders. Soy milk, tofu, and natto are a few examples. Tofu is available in varieties from silken to extra firm. It absorbs the flavors with which it is prepared. For example, silken tofu can be used to prepare sweet pudding and extra frim can be combined with garlic, onions, and a bit of vegetable stock for savory stir fry.

  • Quinoa and amaranth are two more great plant-based protein sources. They are both considered whole grains and are gluten free.
  • Chia seeds are another marvelous source of all 9 essential amino acids. They are said to increase satiety reducing the appetite as well.
  • Hemp is a currently trending plant-based complete protein. These seeds also offer an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Flax seed is said to contain all 9 essential aminos and provides fiber.

Tip: You need a daily balance of amino acids. You do not need all 20 every meal.

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