Best Source of Protein: 10 Vegan Foods With High Protein Fit for Athletes
Table of Contents
- 1 How do You Get Enough Protein on a Plant-Based Diet?
- 2 What Plant-Based Foods Have Protein?
- 3 10 Vegan Foods with High Protein
- 4 Final Thoughts on Athletes and Veganism
How do You Get Enough Protein on a Plant-Based Diet?
Veganism is becoming more mainstream every day. With more people thinking about making the switch to healthy eating, many concerns come up. Like, how do vegans get enough protein in their diets to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Well, the good news is that there are a ton of plant-based alternatives to animal-derived food that provide the necessary protein for a well-balanced diet. There are nine essential amino acids that people need to maintain balanced nutrition.
The nine amino acids are:
Protein contains these nine amino acids, which are vital, and eleven other amino acids that have been determined to be “non-essential.” To be non-essential, it means the other eleven amino acids do not contribute to a balanced diet and are not necessary to maintain well-balanced nutrition.
Getting enough protein is essential, but just as important is getting quality proteins. Amino acids found in meat proteins are similar to those found in humans. This fact is one of the reasons there is an argument for the need to consume meat to get the right kind of proteins.
Studies have shown that this is not the case. You can get enough of the quality protein you need from vegan sources. The key is to consume a variety of plant-based foods. In the past, people believed to get all the proteins you need from a vegan diet; you would need to absorb all of the protein sources in one meal.
This has been determined to be false. Our bodies are good at storing the amino acids we consume. The important thing is just to keep a variety of these sources in our diet daily.
How Do Vegan Athletes Get Enough Protein?
Athletes have different nutritional needs than people who are not as active. Protein is vital for building muscle mass. For this reason, athletes do need to increase the amount of proteins eaten than the average person.
A lot of athletes are switching to a vegan diet, and finding it does not hurt their performance, but in some cases, it even improves their game. Vegan athletes can get all the proteins they need without supplements. You just have to consume large quantities of plant-based protein sources.
For vegan athletes, the average protein intake should be between .35-.87 grams of protein per pound to avoid weight loss and build healthy muscle mass.
What Plant-Based Foods Have Protein?
There are a ton of great options for plant-based protein sources. The following are just some of these sources that you can easily include in your daily meals, smoothies, drinks, and snacks.
Seeds, Nuts & Nut Butters
One of the top plant-based sources is the category of seeds, nuts, and nut kinds of butter. These are great for snacks because they are easy just to grab and go. You can also put some nut butter on toast, or include some into a smoothie.
Flaxseed is known as a superfood because it is not only high in protein but is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. Almonds are also excellent sources of protein because you can get 30 grams of protein for every cup of almonds you eat.
Other significant sources of protein in this category are chia seeds, cashews, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds.
Tofu & Tempeh
Tofu is often in vegan recipes as a substitute for meat or eggs. Tofu is an excellent source of protein made from soybeans because it has all nine of the critical amino acids. Tempeh is also from soybeans. Tempeh is not only an excellent source of protein, but it is also a great source of calcium, iron, and manganese.
Beans & Legumes
Beans and legumes are both excellent sources of protein that you can easily include in a variety of dishes. A bonus health benefit of these two is that they are also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Green peas and kidney beans are packed with proteins. More sources include pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, peanuts, chickpeas, lentils, and soybeans.
Chickpeas can be eaten hot or cold, and are highly versatile with plenty of recipes available online. They can, for example, be added to stews and curries, or spiced with paprika and roasted in the oven.
A person can add hummus, which is made from chickpea paste to a sandwich for a healthful, protein-rich alternative to butter.
Nutritional yeast is a complete protein. This means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids. Nutritional yeast is also a great source of vitamin B12 and fiber. Nutritional yeast is super versatile. You can add to your mac & cheese, popcorn, and cheese sauce.
10 Vegan Foods with High Protein
As more people turn to vegetarian and vegan diets to reduce the amount of animal-derived products consumed, there are more plant-based food and grain becoming available to make this transition easier than ever before. The key is to eat the right amounts of the right kinds of plant-based food and grain. You can get a well-balanced, healthy diet this way with plenty of protein and essential nutrients, minus the calories and saturated fat contained in animal-derived foods.
Complete proteins are those plant-based foods that have all nine of the essential amino acids. Quinoa and soybeans, for instance, are excellent examples of complete proteins. Of the protein-packed foods listed above, the following are the ones with the highest protein content per serving.
Foods made from soy like tofu, tempeh, and edamame are some of the most protein-rich foods you can eat. The amount of proteins per serving size does vary depending on how the soy-based food is prepared. For instance, edamame has about 16 grams of proteins per cup. Tempeh has about 30 grams of proteins per cup. Tofu has about 20 grams of proteins per cup.
Lentils & Chickpeas
Green and red lentils have a lot of proteins and fiber. When lentils are cooked, they contain approximately 17 grams of proteins per cup. Chickpeas are another high-protein plant-based food. Cooked chickpeas have about 14.5 grams of proteins per cup.
Spirulina is a type of algae that has lots of nutrients, including manganese, iron, and some B vitamins (not B12, though). Spirulina has about four grams of proteins per tablespoon. Spirulina comes in multiple forms, such as a powder or a supplement. You can add spirulina to juice or smoothies.
Peanuts & Peanut Butter
Peanuts are not only rich in protein, but they also contain healthy fats and may be good for heart health. Peanuts have around 41 grams of proteins per cup.
Almonds are not only good protein sources, but they are also a great source of vitamin E. There are approximately 33 grams of proteins per cup of almonds.
Quinoa is a complete protein that is also rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, and manganese, and also contains about eight grams of protein per cooked cup.
Black Beans & Rice
Beans and rice are not complete proteins on their own. However, if you eat them together, they provide up to seven grams of proteins per cooked cup.
Chia seeds are a source of complete protein. Chia seeds are great low calorie, rich in fiber foods that also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds have about two grams of proteins per tablespoon.
Certain vegetables contain good amounts of protein. For instance, dark, leafy greens like kale and broccoli contain a good amount of protein. One stalk of broccoli contains about four grams of protein. There are about two grams of protein per cup of kale. Eating snacks that contain both these vegetables combined with other protein-rich plant-based ingredients like vegan meat or beans and rice will provide a good amount of protein.
Potatoes are rich in protein as well as other nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium. There are approximately eight grams of protein in each large baked potato.
Final Thoughts on Athletes and Veganism
Athletes can eat a healthy vegan diet and still get all of the key nutrients they need for a healthy lifestyle. Athletes will need to consume more protein than people who are less active. The key is to eat a variety of protein-rich plant-based foods throughout the day. Luckily, there are a ton of great protein-rich foods to choose from.