Can Plant Based Athletes Get Enough Protein?



Sustainable nutrition practices are ALL about respect. Respect for your preferences, respect for your beliefs, respect for your schedule, your cravings, your lifestyle.


Basically, I'm the dietitian, but I don't get to dictate what you should or should not do. I teach my athletes how to listen to their body and figure out how to optimize their nutrition from there.


For many of my athletes, this means working within the guidelines of plant-based. We have discussions about what plant based looks like for that person. Some athletes are strict vegans while others find a strategy that works for them combining dairy, eggs, fish, or meat. I'm not here to judge, I'm here to help you listen to your body.


That said... you're an athlete, so you need more protein in your diet! That is NON-NEGOTIABLE and the scientific literature is CLEAR that that is true.


So how do my plant based peeps get their protein needs met?? We talk a lot about being intentional with protein intake, and if this is something you need help with, totally consider setting up a time for a free call with me to learn more about my nutrition coaching program.


One of my fave myths to dispel is whether we need to worry about pairing plant proteins. When I was in dietitian school, we learned that you had to be super intentional about pairing different essential amino acids together in order to ensure that vegans did not develop protein deficiencies.


So first of all... what the HECK is an 'essential amino acid?' Amino acids are simply the building blocks that make up a protein and when we eat protein (let's say chicken breast), it gets broken down into smaller building blocks in our blood stream. The word 'essential' refers to the fact that certain proteins we MUST get from diet because our body is unable to produce them. They include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.


ANYWAY, the cool fact is that our body is SO DANG SMART, and if you don't get enough of one amino acid at a meal, then it prioritizes the absorption of it at other meals throughout the day. BASICALLY, we don't have to worry about 'pairing proteins,' as long as we are eating a diverse source of plant proteins. I thought this was the coolest thing in the world when I read about it...


But its okay if you're like shut up and gimme da plant protein ideas. LOL... so without further ado, here are some of my faves! Just remember that you need to be intentional about getting ENOUGH protein for your unique body... and that's where 1:1 nutrition coaching really comes in handy!


My Fave Protein Sources for Plant Based Peeps

  • Nutritional Yeast

  • Beans

  • Lentils

  • Powdered PB (or Almond Butter)

  • Textured Vegetable Protein

  • Tofu/Tempeh/Seitan

  • Hemp Seeds

  • Edamame

  • Chickpea Snacks

  • Plant Based Protein Powder

  • Bean Pasta

Plant based, schmlant based - you need more protein and you can totally do it with a plan and intentionality. Don't let anyone tell ya otherwise! Did you find this helpful? Be sure to join my free facebook community for more tips and tricks!



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©2017 by Serena Marie RD. Images by Ralf Graebner