A few weeks ago I wrote part 1 of this blog that introduced you to the three macronutrients - protein, carbohydrates, and fats. I went into detail about carbohydrates, what they are, why they are important, the kinds you should be eating regularly and the kinds you should be limiting. This week, I’m going to move on to PROTEIN, which many people believe should be the most important macro in your diet. It can be quite tricky to get enough high-quality protein, especially for vegans, so I hope to help make this a little easier for you today.
So why is protein so important?
You probably already know that proteins make up the building blocks of our muscles, but they actually do a whole lot more than that in our bodies!
• Proteins help create the structure and stability we get from the connective tissue in our joints
• Help to transport essential chemicals and nutrients around our body such as vitamins, minerals and oxygen
• Play a vital role in the immune system
• Can provide our body with energy when needed
• Assist with regulation of all kinds of chemical reactions in the body This means that the protein we eat in our diet doesn’t just influence our gains, it influences almost every function of the body. So you can see that protein really is so so important, for so many reasons!
What are proteins made of?
Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are smaller building blocks that link together in chains. The body needs 20 different amino acids to function and grow, and nine of these cannot be produced by the body, and so you have to eat them in your diet, these are the ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS. Animal sources of protein, like chicken, beef and fish provide all of the essential amino acids, so they are known as COMPLETE PROTEIN SOURCES. There are several plant-based sources of complete protein, these include: • Soy products like tofu, tempeh and edamame • Hemp seeds • Peas • Quinoa • Buckwheat • Nuts If you follow a plant-based diet it can seem a little tricky to get enough of the essential amino acids in your diet, but for most vegans simply eat a wide variety of plant-based foods that are high in protein should do the trick (especially if you’re eating the foods on the complete protein source list!).
How much protein do you actually need?
This is super popular question, especially if you’re into your training! We gotta make sure we’re fueling our muscles to grow, after all! But in reality the amount of protein each of us needs can vary a lot, depending on your body composition (aka how much muscle, bone and fat your have), genetics, how active you are, whether you are injured or sick, and a bunch of other things. So I recommend following a general guideline of about 1.5 to about 3 ounces of protein per day. The lower amount is for someone that is not very active throughout the day and doesn’t really train, and the higher is for someone that might be very active all day long and have a busy training regime too.
So how much protein do you actually get in a serve of food?
These are some of the richest sources of plant-based high quality protein
What are my favorite protein sources to eat each day?
I looooove bagels and they have about 10g protein in them, I also love vegan yoghurts, veggie burgers, pasta and noodle dishes and lots of vegetables! All of these help to contribute to my protein each day. To make sure I’m maintaining my gains, I love Blessed Protein, which I normally have after my workout or add to my smoothies, my favorite is Choc Coconut flavor! Check out the recipe below (that is available exclusively through my WBK App) for my decadent chocolate vegan smoothie that has 26 grams of protein in it!