Athletes who train regularly for hours on end have special nutritional requirements over the average person, in which protein is probably at the top of the list to keep muscle and strength at its highest. Protein is the cornerstone of bodybuilding because it helps your body repair the damaged muscle tissues and prevents muscle breakdown. While vegan athletes can get protein in their diet from many different sources such as tofu, almonds, whole grains, vegetables, lentils, chickpeas, and peanuts, sometimes you need more convenient and easier sources just to bump up the intake.
The best protein for vegan athletes an be found in many forms. Protein can be found in many foods but as supplements it can help bridge the gap making it easier and more convenient to get in those calories and fuel your body for optimal performance. Here are some of the top protein sources you can try as a vegan athlete.
Why should athletes buy protein supplements?
The number one reason to buy supplements is to give your body the required amount of protein, which natural food items may not do or we may just not have the means to get enough in with our schedules. You can get this essential nutrient from food items like beans, lentils, chick peas, tofu, quinoa, pulses, oats, chia seeds, and brown rice. Supplements help you meet any gaps and do so effectively and conveniently. The specific amount of protein varies between athletes, depending on factors like body size, hours of training, and body composition.
Plant-based protein sources are the best option because they help you build muscles, enhance recovery between sessions, maintain a healthy heart, and keep your cardiovascular health in good condition.
Vegan protein powder
There are various plant based protein powders, which contain purely plant products like watermelon seeds, brown rice, hemp seeds, green or yellow peas, and soy-isolate. Some have a combination of these substances. Below are some subtypes you can choose from.
Pure rice protein
Rice protein is an excellent alternative to whey protein and provide the same results, made from rice. These usually contain substances like natural flavors, organic vanilla flavor, guar gum, and syrup solids.
Yellow pea protein
Pea protein is a high-quality plant-based supplement that fulfills your nutritional requirements. Extracted from yellow peas, they are nutritious and contain high protein and essential amino acids like valine, lysine, and leucine.
You can use it for smoothies and shakes. Many vegan athletes prefer this product because it is hypoallergenic and carries a low chance of causing allergic reactions. If you’re on a low-carb diet, this is ideal for you as it has +-0 grams of carbohydrates.
Besides supplying your body with the essential nutrients it requires, this protein powder also helps you increase muscle mass if you work out regularly. A study conducted to determine its efficiency found that pea protein powder builds mass at the same rate as dairy-based protein powders.
Hemp protein is extracted from the cannabis plant by cold-pressing hemp seeds. Unlike other marijuana products, it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. Besides protein, it has 22 essential amino acids that repair muscles and improve cognition. You must choose these while looking to lose weight and looking for low-fat products. Unlike animal proteins, it doesn’t contain cholesterol or saturated fats.
What flavors are available?
Nowadays there are many different flavors to choose from, like banana, vanilla, dark chocolate, red velvet cake, or strawberry. If you like your drink flavorless, you can choose an unflavored product and mix it in with smoothies to create your own flavours.
Protein bars are an alternative to powders and are suitable when you need a quick boost. You will find these extremely helpful when you cannot mix shakes or for when you just feel like a more filling option or as a little treat.
Each bar usually contains about 21 grams of protein and can come in various delicious flavours such as dark chocolate, chocolate chips, coconut almond butter, peanut butter, and fudge brownie. They contain ingredients like organic almond butter, brown rice syrup, organic protein blend, walnuts, sunflower seeds, coconut sugar, and cinnamon. Be careful though as many do also contain excess ingredients that may not be organic nd could potentially be harmful to you. Be sure to read the ingredient list.
Pre-mixed shakes are another option you can choose from as an athlete on a plant-based diet. They are easy to use, convenient, and easily digestible. You can choose from various flavors, including vanilla, dark chocolate, and classic chocolate. Most of the shakes contain about 20 grams of protein. Before buying a shake for yourself, you should read the ingredients and nutritional information on the label to check the calorie content as some may use coconut milk, which may be higher in calories.
The shakes contain ingredients like pea protein, pumpkin seeds, water, sunflower oil, cocoa powder, pink salt, guar gum, and greens.
Things to check before buying
You should read the labels carefully to confirm whether the product contains ingredients derived from animals like collagen or gelatin. Has the manufacturer mentioned the ingredients and amount per serving?
Ensuring your nutrition is on point and your protein requirements are met will help to improve athletic performance, help repair muscle , enable faster recovery, repair tissues, and strengthen your immune system. When you combine these with a good diet and workout regiment, you are on your way to success.