Or, how to get 100g of plant-based protein in one day.
The number of vegans in the UK has risen by 350% in the last decade (source: The Guardian) and thanks to social media, the message is spreading quicker and deeper. Those who cannot jump in with both feet, so to speak, can choose a ‘flexitarian’ approach; opting out of meat, fish and dairy for a couple of days each week. It has been the rise in interest amongst the young which has been the most surprising with last year close to half of all vegans being between the ages of 15-34.
However, are vegan protein sources comparable to a nice big, fat steak? Let’s have a look.
Us meat-eaters have it good when it comes to protein. Most of the foods we eat for protein are complete proteins. This means they contain all 20 amino acids so we get the whole package… see below for dull but necessary explanation.
Why do we need protein in the first place? In short, it builds and repairs muscle, helps with fighting infection and aids in the transport of oxygen round the body. It is vital… oooh, big word… yes VITAL in the fat-loss game because…
- Eating a high proportion of protein will preserve your muscle and it’s your muscle which is going to burn the fat for you.
- Protein keeps you fuller for longer. A full English brekkie over porridge anytime.
- It helps regulate insulin levels. Eating protein will slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, staving off cravings and keeping those sugar highs and lows (which come from eating too many simple carbs) to a minimum.
- The process of breaking down that protein into a useable form uses up a whole load more calories. Yay… more energy burnt. This is the ‘thermic effect’ of eating.
Eye lids open everyone. No nodding off.
Protein is made up of amino acids. There are 20. The body can make 12 of them but the other 8 (some research suggests 9, but let’s not split hairs) must come from our food. They are called essential amino-acids. When a food has all 20 amino acids, it is called a complete protein (meat, fish, dairy).
Getting enough protein for meat eaters is no problem. Pork, chicken, turkey, beef, cottage cheese, tuna and fish are all complete proteins. Vegetarians will also manage with dairy and eggs included in their diet.
For those who are vegan and choose to follow a plant-based diet however, getting enough protein isn’t always obvious. There are only so many chickpeas one can knock back in a day.
This blog is devoted to you. From a health as well as a successful fat-loss point of view.
Protein for Vegans
Vegans, like anyone else, should focus on a wide variety of foods but pay particular attention to foods which contain the amino-acid lysine (it’s one of the gang of 8 essential ones). If there’s lysine in that food, then you can be sure there’ll be enough of the other 7 too.
Examples of lysine-rich foods are tofu and tempeh (a soya product but more flavourful than tofu), pistachio nuts, black beans, quinoa, soya milk and pumpkin seeds.
The Vegan Protein Shopping List
Below are some foods high or high-ish in protein which can be included in the vegan shopping list (amongst the usual fruit, veg, toilet rolls, cat food, beer, gin… etc).
- Edamame beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils… any other bean which will fit in your trolley
- Quinoa, buckwheat groats (and flour)
- Nutritional yeast *
- Chia seeds
- Soya milk
- Hemp protein powder
- Spirulina (a seaweed in powder form… nutritionally wonderful, tastes disgusting)
- Flax seeds
- Almonds, cashews, other nuts
- Seeds: sunflower, pumpkin
- Spinach, broccoli
“What!? Spinach and broccoli have protein in?”
Yes. Sure do.
*Nutritional yeast sounds very unappealing but if you are planning on taking the vegan lifestyle by the short and curlies, then get some. This is a yeast which is grown on a medium (usually sugar cane or beet molasses), harvested, washed and then dried with heat so it stops growing. It is crumbled, flaked and then packaged up.
It has a tangy parmesan cheese type flavour and blends well into hot foods or sprinkled over salads. It bears the gift of 40g of protein per 100g of product (325 calories) so not to be sniffed at. A serving of 25 g (10g protein) adds flavour to your food and gives a decent protein boost.
100g Vegan Protein Per Day – Let’s Do It!
To lose body fat, you should increase your intake of protein for the reasons shown above. Anyone, not just vegans. Everyone is different and it depends how much you are going to do and how much you weigh in the first place. I’ve used a formula of 1.5g of protein per kg of body weight. Assume the lucky person involved weighs 65kg, then that’s 97.5g of protein per day, a hefty whack.
But we can’t be faffed with decimal points for the purposes of this blog, so let’s round it up to 100g.
This will suit someone who is training about 4 times a week with a mix of weights and cardio or 4 quite intense classes.
Right, 100g protein in one day. Here’s a sample vegan meal planner to produce just that. Exact recipes aren’t given, but I’ve packaged up the protein doses into suggested meals which you can source yourself – that way you get the gist. I’ve only counted the main protein items (grams are in brackets).
- 70g oats (8g)
- 30g hemp protein powder (15g)
- 100g raspberries (1g)
- 100ml coconut milk plus water
- Dash of cinnamon
- 10g chia seeds (2g)
- 10 almonds (3g)
- 100g melon (0.5g)
A large salad to include:
- 100g black beans (7g)
- 200g Tofu (cooked and marinaded according to your own recipe (16g)
- 100g broccoli (2.8g)
- 100g peas (6g)
If you have room, or use as a snack for later:
Banana Soy Smoothie
- 200 ml soya milk plus a little water (4g)
- 20g hemp protein powder (10g)
- 50g soy yogurt (2g)
- ½ banana (0.5g)
Chickpea Flour Crepes
- 50g chickpea flour (12g)
- 25g nutritional yeast (10g)
Make crepes using flour and the yeast and water, fill with vegetables of your choice.
- 150g soya yogurt (6.5g)
- 100g blueberries (0.7g)
- 10g pumpkin seeds (2g)
PROTEIN TOTAL: 109g (at least)
CALORIE TOTAL: approx 1520-1550 dependent on the fruit and veg chosen
So, if you fancy trying the full on plant-based regime for at least two days a week, then most supermarkets seem to be rising to the vegan challenge and their shelves are well-stocked. There’s masses of cookery inspiration on the internet and in the bookshops.
Why would you try it? That’s a whole different blog…