By Jane Morgan
Getting the Boost: Plant Powered Protein
90% of Americans have a nutritional deficiency, which comes from not eating a properly balanced diet. Protein is a key building block of life, essential to healthy muscles, bones, and skin. It’s a common misconception that boosting protein intake is only necessary for bodybuilders and athletes; and another myth is that you can only get enough protein through eating meat and other animal products. However, getting enough protein is important for everyone; so for active people following a more conscious lifestyle and eating a reduced meat, vegetarian, or vegan diet, it’s imperative to find alternative protein sources. Luckily, this isn’t actually that difficult.
The building blocks of health
As well as increasing muscle mass, protein is vital for many bodily functions including maintaining a healthy weight, satisfying your appetite, strengthening bones and repairing injuries. It’s also vital for regulating blood pressure and boosting your immune system. The body uses twenty-one basic amino acids in various combinations to make the protein needed to carry out these processes. It can produce twelve of these amino acids by itself, so the other nine must be found in your diet; whether you’re an athlete or not.
Harnessing plant power
The good news is, there are lots of vegan and vegetarian options to get your protein fix - which are just tasty and filling as ‘regular’ food, and don’t require special effort or ingredients.
If you’ve done any kind of research into a vegetarian or vegan diet then you’ll likely be aware of the high protein content of lentils, legumes, and beans. They are inexpensive, packed with protein, and also loaded with fibre. Try adding them to salads and soups, but also check out types of pasta made from beans or peas. They even make great smoothie ingredients.
Quinoa is a very on-trend food at the moment, and is great because it can be added to both sweet and savoury dishes: add it to baking, chuck some in a stir fry, sprinkle on salads, or add a scoop to your morning smoothie.
Even if you’re already getting your five a day by opting for healthy vegetable and fruit snacks, consider swapping out for ones with more protein to get that extra boost - fresh peas for example, make a really tasty sweet treat and contain 5g of protein per cup.
Mix up some healthy breakfast muffins to give you long-lasting energy through the day - try adding chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds to get your protein.
Making sure that you get enough protein is important for your body to function properly, but it needn’t come at the cost of your environmental and eco-friendly principles. Just like choosing your activewear from a responsible and ethical company, choosing plant-based protein from organic and sustainable sources will keep you in top condition- as well as lessening your impact on the planet.