Strength athletes and physically working people need plenty of protein, but even those who prefer a vegan diet should make sure they get enough protein. A plant protein powder can help meet the need.
Extra protein from vegan protein powder
On a diet free of animal products, protein sources such as meat, eggs, milk and cheese are not on the menu. The daily protein requirement, which according to the recommendations of the German Nutrition Society (DGE) for adults is between 0.8 and 1.0 g per kilogram of body weight, should be covered by foods of plant origin. For breastfeeding women and athletes, it can be a bit more. As a general rule, a balanced diet based on the vegan food pyramid is more than enough to absorb these amounts. But you need to know which vegan protein sources are best for you. The biological value plays a role here: it provides information on how the body can use amino acids from vegan proteins. It is ideal to combine different sources of vegetable protein and thus increase the value.
These amino acids must be included in the protein powder.
If you want to take extra protein powder, it’s worth taking a look at the amino acid profile. Whey protein offers the best composition, but it is made from milk and therefore not suitable for vegans. Pure plant protein powders are often made from pea, hemp, soy, rice protein, and combinations of these raw materials. It is beneficial that essential amino acids are included: the body cannot produce them on its own and must be supplied through the diet. These include L-isoleucine, L-leucine, L-valine, L-lysine, L-phenylalanine, L-methionine, L-tryptophan, and L-threonine. The protein building blocks L-arginine and L-glutamine, which are especially recommended for athletes, can be built by the body itself, so they don’t have to be listed on the ingredient list of protein shakes.
Do athletes need a lot of protein?
Not all athletes need a lot of protein. A healthy, balanced diet is sufficient for a normally active recreational athlete, in which only 10-15% of energy needs come from protein. The remaining requirement should be 55-60% carbohydrates and a maximum of 30% fat.
A sample calculation clearly shows that the protein requirements for muscle building can be easily covered by a balanced diet. If you want to build muscle mass, 2kg in a year is a realistic goal. Muscle is only 20% protein, the rest is mostly water. An additional 400 g of protein should be eaten each year. This corresponds to 1.1 g of protein per day.
The recommended daily intake of protein is 0.8 g per day per kilogram of body weight. For a weight of 70 kg, this corresponds to 56 g of protein. However, the actual intake of protein is higher than this recommendation: on average, women consume 1 g and men even 1.2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. A woman weighing 70 kilograms consumes an average of 70 g of protein per day, men even 84 g.
Regardless, most people consume the additional 1.1 g of protein per day needed to build muscle, so no additional dietary supplements are needed. The necessary proteins can be easily ingested through food: dairy products, meat, fish and eggs, among others, provide a sufficient amount of protein. A balanced mixed diet is also sufficient for strength athletes.
Excessive protein consumption can even have a negative effect on the body. If there is excess protein, the body must break down the unusable protein into urea, which is excreted by the kidneys. Bodybuilders excrete twice as much urea as non-athletes, but produce only 25% more urine: the kidneys of strength athletes who regularly consume a high-protein diet and supplement individual amino acids such as l-arginine are therefore exposed to increased stress.
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Find out what’s in vegan protein
When it comes to the composition of vegan protein powder, you should also pay attention to the other ingredients. It’s not uncommon for vegan protein shakes to be loaded with artificial flavors and preservatives. Organic protein powder is free of this, but like conventional products, it can contain a lot of sugar. If you want to use vegan protein powder for weight loss according to the low-carb concept, drinks with a high sugar content are extremely unsuitable. If you suffer from any intolerance, instead of using all-in-one products with different protein sources, you can use a powder that only contains one type of plant. Rice protein in particular is hypoallergenic.