If you want to lead a healthy lifestyle on a vegan diet it is important to make sure that your diet is well balanced, and this means paying attention to your protein sources. Keep reading for some tips on how you can include the right amount of protein in your vegan diet.
One of the main reasons people have questioned how healthy and balanced vegan diets are is that they wonder how vegans are able to consume enough protein when they don't eat the main food sources that we associate with protein: meat, dairy, and eggs.
Protein is an important thing to consider when planning your diet. When you think about it, protein is what makes up your hair and nails, your body uses it to repair and build tissues, in fact protein plays a leading role in helping your whole body to grow and maintain itself, from your muscles, cartilage and bones, to your skin and even your blood. The bottom line is that we need protein, and we need enough of it.
Many people assume because of the function that protein plays in the growth and health of our bodies that we must need to consume a load of it. You might be surprised at how much you actually need though.
It is advised that you eat 0.75g of protein per kilogram of your body weight every day. This means that on average a woman should be consuming around 45g of protein daily, and the average man should be consuming around 55g.
To non vegans that looks like 2 x palm sized portions of meat or fish, or alternatively for vegans it would look like about 2 x palm sixed portions of nuts, tofu or pulses. When you think about it, that doesn't seem like a huge amount of food.
Protein may be super healthy, and your body may need it, but if you eat too much of it you could be doing more harm to your body than good.
Did you know that excess animal protein is linked to kidney stones? This is because when your kidneys are subjected to high amounts of protein, having to process it all puts pressure on them, leading to health problems.
For people who have a pre-existing condition, this can even lead to kidney disease. This is one of the reason that so many people are cutting down on the amount of meat they eat, to the point of switching completely to a plant-based diet.
It has also been said by experts that high levels of protein can have a negative impact on the healthy of your bones as opposed to helping them to grow and be strong. If you are experiencing unexplained nausea, this may well be related to over-consumption of protein, according to the British Dietetic Association.
So if you are a vegan and you are worries that you may not be consuming enough protein, try to relax and go easy on the protein powders. Take a moment to consider how much protein you are actually consuming on a day-to-day basis, and whether you need that extra protein shake.
Watch out for shakes that claim to boost your protein intake, because they really do! Some of these types of drinks offer up to 55g of protein per serving, which is way above the daily-recommended amount for the average woman when you take into account the extra protein you are probably getting from the food you consume throughout the rest of the day.
You may think that you need more protein if you are working out more because it is said to help muscle development and aids recovery after exercise, which is true, but studies suggest that a healthy diet in general is all you need to provide the protein your body needs for healthy recovery after a workout.
The only reason you might need to think about protein supplements is if you aren't able to get enough protein in daily from your normal diet. So let's take a look at a typical plant-based diet and see what foods offer you the protein your body needs as a vegan on a plant-based diet.
If you are thinking of going vegan then you are going to have to give up some obvious protein sources in your diet: Namely, meat, fish, dairy and eggs.
But there are plenty of delicious plant-based alternatives. Here is a list of high protein vegan foods with a break down of the protein content, so that you can see just how easy and straightforward it can be to make sure that you hitting your daily protein needs.
I could go on and on with this list because most foods contain some protein, and the best thing is that all of these foods are also bursting with other elements that are good for your health like vitamins, minerals, amino acids and more.
If you are vegan, or you are thinking of switching to a plant-based diet, then a lack of protein probably isn't something you need to worry about if you are making sure that your overall diet is balanced and healthy.
In fact you should worry more about eating too much protein if you overdo the fancy protein powders, shakes, and nutrition bars.
For peace of mind, skip the protein shakes, bars and powders and focus instead on adding healthy natural whole food supplements to your meals, because these will benefit your body in multiple ways and boost all areas of your diet and health.
For example, sprinkle hemp and chia seeds onto your salads, eat a handful of almonds in between meals as a snack, and make homemade hummus as a side dish for all of your main meals.