Are you committing to Veganuary this month? Or maybe you’re already vegan. Or trying to actively cut meat and dairy consumption.
I haven’t eaten meat since 2014 when I read Farmageddon. The book exposes the negative effects that industrial farming causes globally. And it really struck a chord with me. Since opting for a predominantly plant-based diet I often get asked if I eat enough protein, especially around training.
Over the years I’ve picked up tips and tricks to get ‘enough’ protein to support my training. I’m going to be honest, it isn’t easy. And it does require a bit of extra thought than my meat-eating friends. However, once you get the hang of it it’s really straightforward.
Why do we need protein?
When we eat carbs and fat our body can store them for later (why we’re encouraged to eat carbs before training). Protein is different. The only store of protein in your body is your muscle mass. We need enough protein so our body doesn’t break down its own tissue for essential functions.
How much protein should we eat?
To maintain or build muscle, 1.6-2.5g per kg bodyweight per day is recommended. Splitting protein intake throughout the day, 20-25g per meal, is optimal to stimulate muscle protein synthesis - the process which builds muscle mass.
As someone who is plant-based, you will often need to have a number of different protein sources to make up 20g. Here are a few options. This is not an exhaustive list!
My protein hacks
1 - Add protein powder (I like Form nutrition unflavoured) or powdered peanut butter into your breakfast. I add to overnight oats or yoghurt and granola to get 20g protein.
2 - Add seeds and tahini dressing to lunches for a protein boost. I use this salad topper.
3 - Smoked tofu is delicious cooked or uncooked. A really easy way to add protein to lunch, dinner or even as a snack on its own.
4 - I have a massive sweet tooth, so having tasty chocolate treats is very important. I make these Protein balls all the time. They taste delicious and have 6g protein per ball.