Plant-Based Protein 101: Introduction To Vegan Protein
“How do you get enough protein?”
It’s a question that every vegetarian or vegan has had to answer at some point — sometimes even several times a day. And while the reasons behind the question will range from genuine concern through to pure snark, it is a serious and important consideration if you’re seeking a diet that doesn’t involve animal products.
The good news is that there are many sources of vegan protein; lentils, tofu, beans, chickpeas and a host of other plants are all excellent sources. However, these sources often require quite a bit of preparation, which can be tricky when you’re living a busy lifestyle and short on time. And let’s be honest — they can also grow a bit dull every now and then too, even if you’re able to try out many different recipes.
Accordingly, if you’re short on time or just looking for some variety in your diet, it can be helpful to incorporate supplements, meal replacements or protein powders into your routine. We’ve put this handy guide together to help you decide whether vegan protein powder is right for you.
Plant-based solutions in a whey environment
If you’re new to the world of eating a plant-based diet, you may well be wondering “What is vegan protein powder?” Well, all protein powders are designed to supplement your body’s natural amino acids and replace your protein stores. It’s a complex biochemical process, but in summary, protein is essential for maintaining your muscle, health and wellbeing — it’s also consumed by your body very rapidly, so replenishing it regularly is crucial. Additionally, people who are looking to work out heavily often require additional protein to build muscle.
People who eat meat typically derive most of their protein from animal sources; but as a vegetarian or vegan, that’s not an option. Protein powder has accordingly become a popular dietary supplement, both from people who require it for dietary reasons and people who are looking to get into shape at the gym.
All well and good, right? Well, the issue is that most protein powders on the market are derived from animal products — specifically, whey from milk. Vegan protein powder utilises plant-based ingredients instead, to create similar effects from different ingredients — it’s an ideal option for vegans and vegetarians who are looking to supplement their diets with some variety or are simply looking to hit the gym.
Are vegan protein powders as effective as whey?
The efficacy of various protein powders hinges on a number of different factors and can vary from brand to brand. But broadly speaking, yes, vegan protein powder can be as effective as whey-based ones. The amount of protein contained can be identical, and it’s obviously a preferable option for people looking to avoid animal products. Additionally, plant-based protein powder can be excellent for people who have allergies or intolerances to dairy products. Additionally, if you’ve been wondering how long does vegan protein powder last, there are also some indications that vegan protein powder can have a longer shelf life than whey-based protein powders. However, these factors can vary by brand, flavour and batch, so make sure you always check the Best Before date indicated on the packaging.
Creating a more varied plant-based eating program
So, how should you take vegan protein powder? While protein powder is most commonly used in water or juice-based shakes and smoothies, it actually has a number of more diverse uses; powder can often be incorporated into other recipes along with flour, allowing for some remarkably creative vegan snacks, such as protein pancakes or brownies. A quick look around online will reveal all manner of creativity!
Looking for the right powder for the right person
So, who should consider taking vegan protein powder? Many vegans could benefit from incorporating plant-based protein powder into their diet in order to guarantee that they’re eating enough protein; if you’re not getting enough plant-based protein at the moment, it’s quite possible that you’ll end up feeling tired and run-down. However, we would always suggest that you speak to your medical professional before incorporating supplements into your diet; they’re able to give an indication of whether you’re currently getting enough protein, or whether there could be any interactions with other medications that you take.
With these factors in mind, it’s not uncommon as a vegan to wonder “Do vegans need protein powder?” In truth, no, not necessarily. However, some vegans can benefit from using protein powder as part of a wider healthy, well-balanced diet if they are finding it difficult to obtain enough protein from other food sources.
Additionally, many people ask if vegan protein powder can cause any stomach problems. As with any health-oriented product, there is a benefit vs risk analysis to be carried out; some people do experience gas or an upset stomach when using vegan protein powder; however, the effects will vary from person to person and many find that the attendant health benefits weigh out any other issues.
The benefits of plant-based protein for weight
Additionally, people often ask questions about whether vegan protein powder helps you lose, or gain weight. This is a complex question; it’s tied to your wider dietary and exercise habits, along with your health and natural body shape. Anyone looking for a miracle catch-all when it comes to losing or gaining weight from plant-based protein powder will be disappointed. But if it’s used correctly, in tandem with healthy eating and exercising, vegan protein powder can be used to gain weight — typically in the form of muscle — while it’s also possible to use it as a healthy meal substitute for weight loss purposes. However, as with any significant change to your eating habits, it’s crucial to discuss such plans with a health professional.