Let's talk about Amino Acids, which are commonly referred to as the building blocks for protein. These oganic compounds are vital for our bodies functionality through not only building protein but although in the synthesis process of hormones and neurotransmitters. For your body to grow and function properly, you need 20 different amino acids, some of which can't and processed by your body (essential amino aids) and must be ingested through ones diet.
The best sources of essential amino acid are said to be found only from animal proteins like meat, poultry and eggs. Many people are unfamiliar with vegan nutrition and often assume its terribly difficult to get enough protein on a plant-based diet, when it is indeed the opposite. The truth of the matter is, all plant proteins have some of every amino acid, which can be completed when adding beans and grains. The American Dietetic Association's Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets
“Plant protein can meet requirements when a variety of plant foods is consumed and energy needs are met. Research indicates that an assortment of plant foods eaten over the course of a day can provide all essential amino acids and ensure adequate nitrogen retention and use in healthy adults, thus complementary proteins do not need to be consumed at the same meal.”
To ensure adequate protein status, vegans should eat 3-4 servings per day of high-protein foods that also are good sources of the amino acid lysine. Below is a list of protein foods from which to choose:
- Legumes—1/2 cup cooked
- Beans—garbanzos (chickpeas), kidney, pinto, navy (125-150 g)
- Lentils (100 g)
- Peas—split (100 g) or green (80 g)
- Soyfoods—edamame (80 g), tofu (125 g), tempeh (165 g), soy milk (1 cup or 250 mL), soy meats (3 oz or 85 g)
- Peanuts—1/4 cup (35-40 g)
- Seitan—3 oz (85 grams)
- Quinoa—1 cup cooked (185 g)
- Amaranth (grain) – 1 cup cooked (245g)
- Pistachios—1/4 cup (30 g)
- Pumpkin seeds—1/4 cup roasted (35 g)
It is of utmost important to design a plant-based diet which provides complete nutrition, especially if you an athlete, you must account for extra protein. With that being said, one must also be conscious about their calorie intake to fulfill daily requirements.
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