Proteins are essential macronutrients for athletes: they nourish your muscles, support your intense workouts, and above all, they promote post-exercise recovery.
Optimal Protein Needs?
The protein requirement strictly depends on your body weight and also on the type of physical activity. For instance, an endurance athlete should have around 1.2-1.5g/kg protein per day, while those who want to grow their muscle should eat up to 2g/kg protein per day.
Vegan Diet and Protein
Is it possible to cover your protein needs when following a plant-based diet?
Absolutely yes, but it is fundamental to have a few small strategies to optimize protein uptake and their use by muscles.
Proteins are mainly present in legumes, seeds, and cereals, and are made up of different proportions of essential amino acids. Thus, if you follow a varied and balanced vegan diet, it’s impossible to have protein and amino acid deficiencies.
However, it is also true that plant-based foods are loaded with a certain amount of fiber and certain substances that could limit protein absorption, and muscle might not be able to use them.
Smart Tips for Optimizing Protein Intake
To optimize protein absorption, distribute this nutrient throughout the day, in every meal and snack. To meet your nutrient needs, power your meals with one source of carbohydrates and one source of plant proteins while including a small amount of protein in your snacks.
Pay also great attention to the preparation of food. To "release" the proteins, soak food (legumes, nuts, grain, and cereals) in plenty of water. This process removes those substances making it more difficult to absorb nutrients from plant foods.
Moreover, don't forget that you can increase your protein intake thanks to healthy and vegan protein bars and protein powders. The latter is perfect for preparing tasty smoothies, porridge, soups, juices, and many more recipes.
Looking for yummy ideas to increase your daily protein intake?
Here you are the perfect menu for an endurance athlete of about 70kg (it provides circa 85g of protein).
Breakfast: Porridge - mix oat flakes (3-4 tbsp.), almond milk, pumpkin protein (30g), and ground flax seeds (1 tbsp) altogether. Have also a seasonal fruit.
Mid-Morning Snack: Fresh fruit and almonds.
Lunch: Wholemeal pasta with seitan sauce and salad, dressed with extra virgin olive oil.
Mid-afternoon Snack: Delight yourself with a protein bar.
Dinner: Legume soup with wholemeal bread croutons. Fresh fruit.
For more delicious ideas, check out our blog: you'll find lots of recipes to prepare healthy and balanced dishes!