If you are an athlete you know very well that proteins are essential to nourish your muscles, support intense exercise, and, above all, promote post-exercise recovery.
Your protein need depends on your body weight and also on the type of physical activity: an endurance athlete should take about 1.2-1.5g/kg of protein per day, while those who aim for muscle growth should take up to 2g/kg.
Is it possible to cover your needs by using only plant-based proteins?
But it is also important to use a few small strategies to optimize their absorption and use by muscles.
In a vegan diet, proteins come essentially from plants; you can find it in legumes, seeds and cereals, which contain different proportions of essential amino acids. If you take, every day, a wide variety of these foods it is impossible to go against protein/amino acid deficiencies.
It is also true, however, that plant foods, unlike animal foods, contain a good amount of fiber and some substances that could limit their absorption and make them less available to our muscles.
To optimize their absorption, the first rule is to distribute them properly in meals and snacks; rich your daily need is very easy if you plan your main meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) by always combining a source of carbohydrates and a source of plant protein, and insert in your snacks a small quantity of proteins.
Another important thing to optimize protein absorption is the preparation of food.
To make proteins (and other nutrients) more available from plant foods, soaking in plenty of water is the best solution, not only for legumes but also for dried fruit or grain grains, as it allows to remove those substances that make it more difficult to absorb plant-based nutrients.
Don't forget, too, that to increase your protein intake you can replace a few snacks with a bar or use powders made from vegetable proteins to prepare tasty smoothies, but also porridge or vegetable soups.
Are you looking for any ideas?
Here is a daily menu, which provides about 85g of protein, ideal for an endurance athlete of about 70kg.
Breakfast: Porridge prepared with 3-4 tablespoons of oat flakes, almond milk, 30g of pumpkin protein and a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds. A seasonal fruit
Mid-morning snack: fresh fruit and almonds
Lunch: organic pasta with seitan sauce and mixed salad with extra virgin olive oil
Mid-afternoon snack: a protein bar
Dinner: legume soup with wholemeal bread croutons, fresh fruit
Don't forget that in our blog you will find lots of recipes to inspire you in the preparation of your healthy and balanced dishes!
Author: Author: Francesca Deriu, Nutritionist at Minutro