We can safely say that protein is the best-known nutrient in food for active individuals. The benefits of it are nearly endless, especially for people involved in vigorous training. Many cells, tissues, blood, and antibodies can be rebuilt using protein, which makes it a vital component of our recovery.
In fact, most of our tissues, hormones, and enzymes are made up of some sort of protein. But really, protein is a controversial topic, especially when it comes to the source of it. Let’s look at plant protein.
Plant VS. Animal Protein
There are two types of protein-containing foods - complete and incomplete. Whether they are complete or incomplete depends on the amino acid profile of that food.
Complete proteins contain all essential amino acids and are usually animal foods.
On the other hand, we have plant foods, which have an incomplete protein content, due to the fact that most plants lack certain essential amino acids.
Now, even though animal products are by far the easiest and most efficient way to get your full amino acid profile, you can do the same with just plants. The simplest and best way to do so is to combine different sources of plant proteins (i.e beans and rice). In doing so, you will allow each food to compensate for the lack of certain amino acids, in the food it is combined with.
This is in fact one of the main principles of vegetarian and vegan nutrition, as it allows you to meet your daily protein needs with ease!
Now, it is usually assumed people with a plant based diet are severely deprived of protein. However, this is not really a fact about vegan nutrition. The fact is that if a plant-based individual has a rational, balanced nutrition plan and there will be no deprivation of protein if they eat correctly!
The Best Plant Protein Sources
Nuts, peas, beans, soy products, and grain plants are some of the best plant protein sources that can replace conventional animal products. Different proteins are found in these various foods, each with its own set of amino acids.
The facts? All of these products are at the top of the list of plant protein sources!
Nevertheless, there are MANY other plant products that you can use to meet your essential protein needs.
Below is a list of the most common plant-based products and their protein content (per 100g).
Protein content per 100 gr
21 to 25 depending on the type of beans
Short grain white rice
Long grain white rice
Medium grain white rice
Long grain brown rice
Medium grain brown rice
How Much Protein Should You Eat?
This is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions in the fitness world, whether it’s about fat loss or muscle gain. There is no definitive answer to this question, due to the fact that we all process and use protein at slightly different rates.
Nevertheless, there are general guidelines, which recommend consuming 0.8-1g of protein per lb. of bodyweight.
The more muscle mass you have, the higher on that range you would be.
For instance, if you weigh 200 lbs and have 10% body fat, you would need right about 1g of protein per lb. of bodyweight.
Oppositely, if you weigh 200 lbs but are at 20% body fat, you’d need less protein.
Whether you’re trying to build muscle or lose fat, consuming ~1g of protein per lb. of body weight appears to be the optimal range, for both muscle gains and muscle retention.
Even though protein from animal foods is superior to plant protein, there really is no reason why someone wouldn’t be able to meet their protein needs by eating just plants alone.
Now, doing this is generally harder, but as long as you combine different sources of plant protein (i.e legumes, grains and beans), you will be good to go!
Ultimately, your best bet would be to consume up to 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight every day, derived from a variety of sources.
Whether you are meeting your needs or not, can be judged on how you perform, recover, and feel.