Plant-Based Diet: Maintaining Muscle Mass With Green Protein
Protein is one of the key macronutrients that our body needs to repair broken cells and generate new cells. Protein is the building block of all muscle and even helps regenerate our nerve cells. While some non-vegans argue that there’s no way to get enough protein without consuming animal products, proponents of plant-based diets claim that they get all of the protein they need.
The difference is that plant-based protein is green protein that’s obtained from 100% all-natural, plant-based sources. Below, I’ll show you some of the key benefits of plant-based eating and give you some tips for getting enough protein as a vegan!
Do Plant-Based Eaters Get Enough Protein?
Consuming high amounts of simple carbs can be tempting thanks to all of the delicious plant-based snacks on the market today. It’s all too common for first-time vegans to fall into the habit of not eating enough protein.
According to a recent study on vegetarian eaters, 16.5% of male participants and 8.1% of female participants weren’t eating as much protein as they should be everyday.
Getting enough protein is vital if you want to maintain your muscle mass, continue building strength, and keep your cells healthy. Some of the key symptoms that you’re not getting enough protein include:
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Reduced muscle mass
- Hair loss
- Weak nails
Your immune system can also be negatively affected if you’re not consuming enough protein. Most vegan food brands try to cater to a balanced diet. However, it’s still your job to read the nutrition facts and make sure that you’re consuming as much protein as you should be.
How To Get Enough Protein On A Plant-Based Diet
Here are a few helpful tips to ensure that you’re getting enough protein on a plant-based diet. As long as you take a strategic approach to your diet, you shouldn’t have any problem keeping up with your daily protein intake.
Step 1: Calculate Your Daily Protein Needs
First, you need to calculate how much protein your body needs. The most straightforward way to do this is to discuss your personal goals with a nutritionist. The Harvard Health Journal recommends that sedentary adults consume at least 0.36 grams of protein per pound that they weigh.
If you’re active, have a demanding job, or pregnant, then your protein needs will increase. For a more detailed overview, you can use the US Department of Agriculture’s free nutrient calculator.
Step 2: Shop For Healthy Plant-Based Proteins
There are plenty of animal-free protein sources that plant-based eaters can use to make sure they’re getting enough protein. Some of my favorite green protein sources include:
- Beans and legumes
- Soy protein
- Pea protein
- Chickpea protein
- Hemp seed protein
- Tofu and tempeh (both soy-based foods)
Vegan meat alternatives can also be a good source of protein. Just remember to eat these products in moderation, as some contain high levels of sodium and other not-so-healthy preservatives.
Step 3: Meal-Prep With High-Protein Vegan Meals
If you’re somebody who lives an on-the-go lifestyle, it may help to meal-prep and bring a few high-protein vegan meals with you. This will ensure that you always have access to a filling, plant-based meal, and don’t have to resort to eating out. Some simple recipe suggestions could be:
- Rice and beans
- Tofu scramble
- Impossible Meat burrito
- Plant-based burger
Key Health Benefits Of Going Plant-Based
As long as you’re consistent with your diet and keep your kitchen stocked with plant-based protein sources, then getting enough protein as a vegan shouldn’t be an issue. To wrap things up, here are a few other key benefits that a plant-based diet could have for your overall health.
1. Plant-Based Diets Are Associated With Lower Body Fat
On average, plant-based foods tend to be less calorie-dense than animal-derived foods, allowing you to stay full for longer periods of time, while consuming fewer calories. This is one of the key reasons why plant-based eaters have statistically lower body fat than their non-vegan counterparts.
2. Plant-Based Foods Are Better For Your Heart
Plant-based lifestyles are associated with better heart health and a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. Some of the metabolites that our body produces to digest meat can be harmful over the long-term when they’re allowed to build up in the bloodstream. These can detrimentally affect our heart health. Digesting plant-based foods doesn’t require these same metabolites.
3. Plant-Based Diets Could Help Prevent Cancer
A recent study published by BMC Medicine revealed that plant-based eaters and those who consume meat on an infrequent basis were at lower risk for cancer. Conversely, those who consume meat on a regular basis have higher rates of cancer.
Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s “hard” to get enough protein on a plant-based diet. There are just as many plant-based proteins as there are animal-based proteins. High-protein foods like tofu, tempeh, beans, and isolated plant proteins are a great way to introduce some plant-based proteins into your diet and provide an affordable alternative to meats and animal proteins.