Our bodies are mostly made up of protein. Protein is needed for them to develop and work properly. Protein is even more critical as an athlete to keep the muscles running at their peak. Can you get enough protein from plant-based foods to compete at the highest level?
Athletes choose to eat a plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan diet for a variety of reasons. The health benefits of eating more plants appeal to some athletes. Others may opt for a vegetarian lifestyle due to religious, environmental, or ethical considerations.
Regardless of why you prefer a more plant-based diet, as an athlete, you must account for your increased nutrient requirements. When you cut meat or animal products out of your diet, you’re cutting out a major source of protein. As a result, you’ll need to think more carefully about how you’ll meet your protein targets with plant-based sources.
The key is to learn about amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Only 9 of the 20 amino acids found in the human body are available, meaning they must be obtained via diet.
What kinds of high-protein foods can athletes consume? The following are some of the best vegetarian protein sources:
- 20 grams of tofu per cup
- 7 grams of legumes per 12 cup
- 15 grams of tempeh per 12 cup
- 4 grams of quinoa per 12 cup
- Nut butters contain 8 grams per 2 tablespoons.
- 7 g of nuts per 14 cup
- 7 grams of hemp seeds per 2 tablespoons
- Plant-based protein powders come in a variety of flavors.
Many of these plant-based proteins are suitable for both vegetarian and vegan diets. Some athletes may choose to eat a more versatile vegetarian diet that includes dairy and eggs to meet their protein requirements. Vegetarians will get plenty of protein from whole eggs, egg whites, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, and milk.
To begin, determine how much protein you need per day. This should be tailored to your current workout schedule, exercise preferences, and other lifestyle factors. Most athletes need between 1.2-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. High-protein foods should be consumed during the day, spread out between meals and snacks, and balanced with enough carbohydrates and fat.
If you’ve established your objectives, you can devise a meal plan to help you achieve them. If you’re looking for high-protein, athlete-friendly vegetarian or vegan meal recipes, look no further. Please contact us to arrange a consultation if you need assistance preparing a well-balanced plant-based diet that supports your training and meets your personal needs.