Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Debunking Vegan Protein Myths

As someone who is an active vegan, I do get asked (or judged!) for the type of protein I eat. People ask me where I even get protein. Well, the deal is, animal protein sources may have a high number on the paper but that doesn't mean your body is using the whole amount. Animal protein takes an enormous amount of energy to digest, and your body is not able to use all of the nutrients once it has expended so much energy on digesting it. Meat is already dead when you eat it, and it continues to decompose in your body. So, if my steak says "24 grams of protein" on the package, by the time my body is done digesting it, the final number absorbed will only be a fraction of that.

 A complete protein contains all 22 amino acids. One plant-based example of a complete protein is quinoa. However, proteins containing different amino acids can be eaten separately, even over a few days, and your body will still assimilate them as a whole source. Pretty neat stuff.

My protein sources include spirulina, nuts/nut butters, grains or beans. I tend to gravitate toward raw sources because they contain enzymes which aid in digestion, and the protein hasn't been denatured by heat. Processed food products such as tofu are actually not a part of my diet most of the time. Don't get me wrong, it's fine to have these types of foods in moderation, but the more processed a food is the harder your body works to digest it. You want a clean, plant-based, easily absorbable protein source that your body is instantly going to use to repair muscle tissue.

Spirulina, a type of algae, is instantly absorbable and raw, and contains over 50% protein! I throw it in my post-workout shake with coconut water (electrolytes) and some frozen or fresh fruit (carbs, and to mask the taste of algae).

So get out there and work it out...and refuel the clean, plant-based way!

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