No Whey Bae
This blog came highly requested after the snapchat protein rant I endured everyone to a few weeks ago. Interestingly, I have been inundated with questions and requests for Plant Based protein suggestions.
To quickly answer another commonly asked question, while I don’t consume milk or whey protein, I am yet to become Vegan. I was Vegan a few years back and it unfortunately rendered me quite ill (I developed chronic fatigue, severe anaemia and very low blood pressure). I am not saying that will happen to everyone, it just happened to me. I might also add that when I undertook a vegan lifestyle, I did so in a very uneducated way, no supplementation, barely any green vegetable consumption, lots of processed carbohydrates and barely any protein. So, I was bound to become ill. Needless to say, I am reluctant to dive back into it, and am taking slow and consistent steps to reduce my consumption of animal products - for ethical reasons only, not health reasons.
As I mentioned above, one of the main reasons I became so ill was my huge lack of protein intake.
Proteins are composed of amino acids.
We are amino acid driven organisms. We need protein for, not just our muscles, but also our hair, skin, nails and many metabolic functions within the body, including the production of hormones, enzymes and even haemoglobin.
We can store fat (in fat cells) and carbohydrates (as glycogen) - but our body has no way to store protein as an extra reserve somewhere, because of this, we need to eat it consistently.
The good news is, we don’t always have to get it from dead or suffering animals (sorry if that’s a little graphic, but I think that it’s important to acknowledge and respect the source of your protein, especially if it’s coming from the suffering of another life).
The issue we often run into when sourcing our protein from plants, is that it’s often not a complete protein.
A complete protein refers to the amino acid profiling of a protein source. Here’s a quick protein and amino acid 101:
- There are 20 difference amino acids that can form a protein
- 9 of those amino acids can only be sourced from external foods, meaning, your body can not produce these. These are called the 9 essential amino acids.
- To call a protein ‘complete’ it must contain all 9 essential amino acids.
- Meat and Dairy are complete proteins, nuts and legumes are not.
Right, some more good news; you don't actually always need to have all 9 essential amino acids in every single bite of protein, you just need to have them over the course of a day.
A predictable and boring as this opinion is, it just reiterates why I believe in a balanced diet. Full of many different plants to ensure that you are acquiring all the nutrients required for a healthy functioning body. I mean, what I’m saying isn’t ground breaking information. We all know the benefits of balance in everything we do.
To help with this, I recently found this great article that describes the plant sources of all nutrients that the body requires. Have a read here and make a rainbow on your plate (not of skittles, but of real fruit and vegetables).
If you’re time poor like me, or don’t always have access to an array of veggies, nuts and legumes, you’ll be wondering if there is a convenient protein powder to consume - my go to is also known as 'Vegans Whey'. It is a blend of Pea and Rice protein because when combined, contains a great amino acid profile and is easily digested by the body.
Of course there are some other high protein vegetables such as Quinoa and Hemp Powder (But I personally react very poorly to quinoa, and hemp is a slow digesting protein, so it’s not necessarily the best option post workout).
I will say it again, as cliché as it is, you can’t go past the benefits of a balanced diet so make sure if you are vegan or vegetarian, aim for a range of different protein types to ensure that you’re hitting all of those nine essential Amino Acids.
^Please remember that I am not a dietician or nutritionist. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough protein then I would highly recommend visiting a doctor or dietician that can point you in the right direction - the above is merely a reflection of my dietary choices, they may not be suitable for you.