Protein Supplementation for Vegetarians and Vegans
Do you think it is impossible to build muscle mass without eating meat, fish or other animal based sources of protein?
Are you a vegetarian or vegan and are having problems with building muscle mass even with intense workouts? Have you lost a lot of weight since adopting a vegetarian lifestyle but still look flabby?
If your aim is to find a lasting solution to any of these problems, vegan friendly protein supplements are your best bet.
It is very important that you watch your protein intake as a vegetarian/ vegan or when changing your diet and lifestyle.
Depending on the type of vegetarian lifestyle you have adopted, you may have given up not only animal meats but also dairy (milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt) and eggs.
If you have given up all of these, chances are that your protein intake has become very limited.
People who are strictly vegans also have the same problem as strict veganism avoids the consumption of all animal based foods and also the use of animal based products such as fur, leather, etc.
If your protein intake drops below the recommended daily average, protein synthesis and muscle buildup may be affected negatively.
Even worse is the fact that engaging in intense exercise will cause your muscle fibers to break down and there will be inadequate protein to build them up.
Types of Protein Supplements for Vegetarians and Vegans
- Yellow Pea Protein:
It is made from the golden, not garden, pea plant, this is a slow-release type of protein much like casein.
It’s also very easy on the tummy and will not cause bloating, a common side effect of many other protein powders.
The good news is that pea protein is also great for your heart and kidney health.
In the same vein, another great reason to consider adding pea protein to your diet is that it contains about five more grams of protein per serving than whey protein.
Therefore, it really can be great for building muscle, burning fat and boosting heart health.
It is sold in flavored and unflavored varieties depending on the brand. It also helps in the prevention of hypertension and kidney disease.
The one disadvantage of pea protein is that it can cause calcium to leach out of your bones. As such, it should always be used in moderation.
- Soy Protein:
One of the few plant sources to contain all the essential amino acids, soy is hulled and dried into flour, then concentrated or isolated into powder form.
It is one of the few vegetarian sources of complete protein and also very wallet-friendly.
However, you should note that research suggests that soy can increase levels of the female sex hormone estrogen (which encourages fat storage), and the plant is often genetically modified to boost crop yields.
- Hemp Protein:
Hemp protein is derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant.
Hemp protein has gained popularity as a hypoallergenic protein source that’s also high in essential fatty acids.
It is a high-fiber vegan protein source that is also ideal for those with common food allergies.
If you are worried about THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, you should not be.
The presence of THC in hemp protein is negligible and will cause you no side effects.
However, it is low in leucine, one of the most important amino acids for muscle growth.
- Brown Rice Protein:
Rice is known as a source of carbohydrates, but in its unprocessed form, brown rice contains around 8g of protein per 100g, which can be isolated and ground into powder.
It is ideal for vegans and those with dairy, soy or gluten allergies. It is also a great source of B vitamins and fiber.
However, rice protein is not a complete protein source, so you will need other forms of protein to get all the essential amino acids.
- Sacha Inchi Protein:
Sacha inchi also known as the Inca peanut is the seed of a plant that grows in the Peruvian highlands.
It can lower cholesterol, aid weight loss and improve overall well-being.
It is unique as it is a complete protein that contains all the nine essential amino acids our bodies need.
It is also rich in omega 3 and 6, alpha tocopherol, carotenoids and fiber.
Sacha inchi protein is very easily digested thanks to its healthy fat content.
It is made by toasting the seeds of the sacha inchi plant lightly and milling into powder form. The raw seed is inedible.
The one downside to using sacha inchi protein is that it is relatively scarce. Most mainstream health and fitness stores do not yet stock sacha inchi products.
- Potato Protein:
Potato protein is one of the less known sources of protein supplements. Potato protein is the byproduct of the process of producing potato starch. Potatoes contain about 3g of protein per potato.
It is highly digestible and has a well-balanced amino acid pattern that makes it very suitable for making protein supplements.
The major downside of potato protein powder is that it does not mix very well with water or other liquids. You are more likely to get a clumpy, lumpy mixture than with other types of protein powder.
Animal Based Protein for Lacto-Vegetarians and Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians and Semi- Vegetarian Diets
Some vegetarian diets do not entirely exclude animal products.
Lacto-Vegetarians eat a plant based diet along with dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter).
Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians eat a plant based diet along with dairy products and eggs.
Ovo-Vegetarians eat a plant based diet and eggs
These types of vegetarians do not eat fish, meat, poultry or fowl.
Pescatarians and pollotarians are considered to be modified vegetarians. Pescatarians eat a plant based diet along with fish and seafood while pollotarians eat a plant based diet along with poultry and fowl.
- Whey Protein:
Whey is a liquid left over from milk once it has been curdled and strained and is a by-product of the cheese-making process.
Whey protein powder is one of the most popular sports nutrition products in the world because of its availability, cost and effectiveness.
Once consumed, whey is rapidly digested, then absorbed by your digestive system so it gets into your bloodstream and to your muscles very quickly, initiating the recovery and rebuilding process.
Whey protein powder comes in one of four forms: concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate and/or native. All four types are abundant in BCAAs, the amino acids that are essential for rebuilding and repairing the muscular damage caused by working out.
Some whey products use one type of whey protein exclusively, typically a higher-quality protein source for a premium product while others use different protein types to make their protein.
Other products may contain not only different combinations of whey, but also other sources of protein, such as casein or soy, again depending on the product’s recommended use or to reduce manufacturing costs.
Whey protein is suitable for lacto-Vegetarians, Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians, pescatarians, etc.
- Casein Protein:
Casein is the main type of protein found in dairy, making up around 80% of the protein content of cow’s milk.
Whereas whey protein is rapidly absorbed by your body, making it the perfect post-workout protein source, casein is broken down and digested much more slowly, over many hours, to give a slow and sustained release of amino acids into your bloodstream and your muscles.
To fuel your muscles with the essential nutrients they need to repair and rebuild muscle tissue, supplementing with a casein protein shake just before bed is ideal.
The slow-release digestion of casein makes it the perfect source of protein to release amino acids into your muscles at night while you sleep ensuring maximum muscle gains and better recovery from your workout.
It has a biological value of about 70.8 making it one of the best sources of slow release proteins.
Casein is a product of milk i.e. dairy and is suitable for Ovo-Vegetarians, Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians, Pollotrians and Pescatarians.
- Egg Protein:
This protein supplement is made by separating egg whites form the yolk and then dehydrating the egg whites.
It is also a complete protein source, containing all the essential amino acids, as well as other health-boosting vitamins and minerals.
Egg protein also has one of the highest biological values (100). This means that egg protein is very readily converted for protein synthesis in the body.
Egg protein is suitable for lacto-Ovo-vegetarians, pescatarians, pollotarians and those aspiring t a vegetarian lifestyle.
However, it’s not suitable for strict vegans. It can also trigger a reaction if you have an egg allergy, and is one of the more expensive options. Furthermore, flavors may be limited and not as tasty as whey and casein.
- Mixed Protein:
Each plant based protein is great on its own. However, if you aim to get all nine essential amino acids from your supplements, a mixed supplement might be your best option.
A mixed protein supplement will contain two or more protein types. Usually, the aim is to achieve a more balanced protein profile than they would provide individually.
Recommended Daily Intake
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to a modest 56 grams of protein per day for the average sedentary man.
Fifty six grams of protein is probably a lot less than what you ordinarily eat daily. However, it is likely that even when you exceed your daily recommended intake you are not getting all the amino acids you need in the right proportion.
That is why reducing the excessive protein consumption while supplementing with a healthy protein powder is necessary for you. The protein powder gives you all the amino acids you need 100% every day.
It is best you calculate your daily recommended intake yourself as variations will occur depending on height, weight and lifestyle choices.
It is important to note that people who are more active will require more protein than those who are sedentary.
Sports persons, endurance athletes, Body builders and people recovering from injury will also require more protein than the average sedentary individual.
In fact, vegan athletes who are training may need a s much as 0.86 grams of protein per pound compared with those with a sedentary lifestyle.
The repair and recovery of broken down muscles increases the protein requirement for people engaged in sport and exercise activities.