Most of us know that you can actually get plenty of protein from a plant-based diet. However historically, ‘good’ protein sources are often presented to us in the form of big, juicy steaks or lean chicken breasts. But the truth is, you can get all the protein you need by eating plants.
So, whether you’re trying to cut down on animal products for ethical, environmental or health reasons, you don’t need to panic. You can get all the protein you need with plants.
Plant protein is just the same as any other protein – an essential part of our nutrition that contributes to growth and maintenance of our skin, muscle, internal organs, eyes, nails and hair, as well as support our natural immunity.1,2,3 The only difference is that a plant-based protein must come from a plant!
Most plants contain protein, even if it is just a little. Some are more protein-rich than others, though, here are ten of the best high-protein plant-based foods:
Protein can be broken down into 22 natural amino acids, aka the ‘building blocks’ of protein. 9 of these amino acids are classed as ‘essential’, meaning our bodies can’t make them and we must therefore get them from our diet.14
Now, most animal sources of protein e.g. eggs, meat, fish are complete proteins – meaning they contain all the essential amino acids we need from our diet all in one handy foody package.15
Other plants high in protein contain varying amounts of essential amino acids, which when combined with another plant-based protein source, can become complete. For example, eating the foods like hummus and wholemeal pitta, rice and beans or peas, peanut butter on wholemeal toast or wholemeal pasta and peas together may provide your body with complete protein.This means that as long as you’re eating a range of healthy plant protein foods, including some complete plant proteins, you should be getting all you need and more! 25
Plant proteins may also come with an abundance of other healthy goodies, like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, carbohydrates, so you can take your plant protein with a side of extra health benefits.
It is recommended that most people should consume 0.75g of protein per kg of their bodyweight every day. To put this into perspective, a person who weighs 72kg would need 72 x 0.75g of protein per day, which equals 54g.26
However, if you are working out often, want to lose weight or are an athlete, you may need a little more.
As long as you try and stick to these guidelines and make sure you’re eating a varied lot of plant proteins to get all your essential amino acids, it doesn’t matter if you get them from plants or animals.
The best way to hit your protein goals is to eat a varied and abundant diet, and most people who don’t exercise on a regular basis and only need the minimum 0.75g of protein per kg usually get enough protein without really trying.27
But we get it, sometimes life gets in the way and it’s hard to be so precise with your meal planning if you need extra protein, especially if you’ve ditched animal products or are training heavy. This is where protein supplements can come into play – providing you with a quick and easy protein hit before / after working out, in between meals or even in place of them.
We’ve put together six of the best plant protein powders for you if you need a little extra help.
One of the best plant protein powders is made from the long-standing plant-based hero: soy.
It’s usually made from soybean flakes that go through a process of fat removal and being washed in water or alcohol to remove their sugar and dietary fibre so that you can enjoy them in a pure-protein form.
As we have mentioned above, soy is a complete protein all by itself – it has all of the essential amino acids our bodies cannot make, making it a great protein powder. Here are some of its benefits:
Another of the highest plant based protein foods is pea protein. Yes, you heard that right, peas = protein! Even more impressive, it’s considered a complete protein and contains all the essential amino acids.29
Pea protein powder is usually made by isolating the protein of yellow peas, e.g. taking out their natural carbohydrates and fats, to make sure all you’re getting is the protein goodness.
Hemp protein powder is made from pressed and ground seeds from the hemp plant. This process removes most of the fat, while keeping all of the essential amino acids, as well as a small amount of essential fats and fibre. Here are some of the benefits:
Protein can help you to feel fuller and more satisfied for longer, which can help you maintain a healthy weight as if you are feeling full, you probably won’t be feeling the urge to snack as much!33,34
That’s why some people like to incorporate a high-protein meal replacement shake into their diet. Luckily, there are some super plant-based meal replacement shakes available, which work just the same.
Like to enjoy your protein out and about – no shaker required? A plant-based protein snack could be right up your street.
Take this one by Misfits for example:
And that wraps up our article on all things plant protein! Now you know about all the vegan protein sources, you should be feeling a little more clued up on how to increase your intake going forward. We also hope that you’ve found the best vegan protein powder to suit your needs, tastes and dietary requirements after reading through this content.