If you’re a vegan, chances are you’re worried about getting enough protein in your diet. The concern here isn’t just getting any amount of protein, but getting enough complete protein. Plain and simple, your body needs certain amino acids to aid and carry out certain functions.
Most of what our bodies need, as far as amino acids go, it can create. However, there are 9 amino acids that your body needs that it cannot create.
Not only can your body not create these 9 essential amino acids, but the only place to get them is from protein sources. A complete protein is a protein source which delivers all 9 of these amino acids to your body.
Focusing too much on protein
Conversely, one important factor to note is that we’re probably a little more obsessed with protein than we need to be. Yes. You absolutely need heart healthy sources of complete protein. This is key. However, you probably don’t need as much as you think.
Today, in America, we tend to think of meals that need to be structured from the protein source out when the opposite is actually true. You only actually need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (Olsen, 2018). Translated into pounds this is roughly 65 grams for 145 pounds of bodyweight, or 83 grams for 185 pounds of body weight.
Put another way:
If you’re measuring your macros, you’re probably doing one of two things.
• or something like 65/20/15
The 80/15/5 balance is what you’ll find people following the Ketogenic lifestyle doing. According to this, they need 80% of their calories from Fat, 15% from Protein, and 5% from complex healthy carbs. For you glucose burners, you may be looking to get something like 65% of your daily caloric intake from healthy Carbs, 15% from Protein, and 20% from fat or some similar variation thereof.
Looking at hard numbers, this means that those in ketosis are only looking to get 312 of their daily calories from Protein. This comes back at 78 grams. For glucose burners, your 15% comes out to 300 calories or roughly 75 grams of protein.
Don’t misunderstand. Protein is important, so don’t take these numbers to mean that you should downplay your protein as a vegan. In fact, this should be one thing you focus on in the way you focus on maintaining a healthy diet balance.
Fortunately, there is a wide variety of protein sources for your body. Not all of them are complete protein sources so you’ll have to get creative with balancing and pairing like Rice with Beans. Also, against the grain of conventional wisdom, you don’t have to pair protein sources in the same meal so long as you get enough overall complete protein throughout the day from any variety or mix of these sources.
Vegetable and Fruit protein sources are:
• Sweet Corn
• Brussel Sprouts
• Green Peas
You’ll find protein in just about any nut or seeds like:
• Chia Seeds
• Hemp Seeds
Grain and other natural sources of protein include
• Nutritional yeast
• Beans and legume in general
In your grocers cold and creative aisles, you’ll find protein rich sources from
• Vegan Meats and meat substitutes
• Nut butters
As a vegan, if you’re worried about getting enough protein, look to balancing out sources of healthy protein to get enough complete protein. You don’t really need much in comparison to fat or carbs, depending on which fuel you prefer to burn. Instead, focus on getting your complete protein by either consuming complete protein sources, or balancing a mix of various proteins sources throughout your day.