Understand your protein requirements
First and foremost, how much protein do you actually need to maintain a muscular physique and keep adding lean mass to your frame? It’s widely known that sedentary men need around 56 grams of protein while women need only 45 grams of protein a day. These numbers might seem low to you, and that’s because they are. As an athlete, your protein requirements are significantly higher, and thus you need to optimize your nutrition accordingly.
Now, your protein requirements will partly depend on your level of energy expenditure per day, meaning how much you exercise. Typically, though, active men should aim to get one pound of protein per pound of body mass, while women should aim for 0.8 grams per pound of body mass per day. So for example, if you are a woman weighing 150 pounds, you should have around 120 grams of protein per day, while a man weighing 200 pounds should try to get the same amount of protein in grams every day, although some scientists say that you can build muscle safely with less.
Complete vs incomplete protein sources
Now that you have a ballpark estimate of your protein requirements for sustainable muscle growth, you need to understand where the best quality vegan protein comes from. You see, not all food sources were created equal when it comes to protein content and quality, and some natural and organic foods will not only contain less protein than others, but the protein in them will also be inadequate for muscle growth and optimal performance as an athlete.
Complete proteins are the foods that provide all of the nine essential amino acids. Conversely, incomplete proteins contain only a couple of these amino acids, which creates an incomplete protein chain. You can find complete proteins in buckwheat, quinoa, soy, chia seeds, spirulina, seitan, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds. Don’t just eat these foods though, be sure to combine complete and incomplete proteins to get as much variety and as many of the other key micro and macro nutrients.
Supplementation can be a lifesaver
Getting enough protein on a daily basis can be extremely difficult even for people who consume meat, dairy, and eggs all day long. Even though some vegan foods are more protein-rich than others, there is still a high chance that you will miss your mark on some days, simply because of the hectic nature of the modern lifestyle.
Sometimes, you just might not be that hungry even, so supplementing with an all-natural vegan protein powder would be a smart way to fill in the protein gaps and ensure your body is properly fueled throughout the day. Understand that protein supplements are not necessary, however, they can be extremely useful, particularly when you don’t have the energy or the willpower to cook your fifth meal of the day.
Planning and preparation are essential
With the right supplementation and a proper understanding of key vegan protein foods, you can make significant progress. However, you might still find it difficult to meet your protein requirements or stay sated throughout the day as you’re running from meeting to meeting, doing chores, and simply tending to life’s constant demands.
This is why taking a strategic approach to meal planning and preparation is so important for vegans. One of the ways you might be sabotaging your success regarding nutrition is by simply not having meals at the ready to take with you wherever you go. Be sure to devote a lazy Sunday afternoon to prepping the majority of your meals for the upcoming week, and you should have no problem upholding a healthy plant-based diet.
Consistency in everyday habits
On a final note, always remember that a vegan diet won’t get you very far if you’re not consistent. Fitness is a lifelong journey, not a destination, so it’s important to adopt the right mindset and introduce this nutrition approach into your everyday life. You need to stay true to your beliefs and principles, eat and supplement properly, exercise rigorously, and stay motivated to achieve the results you’re after. If you’re just starting out with a vegan diet, then make sure to ease yourself into this process, be realistic, and slowly transition to a plant-based diet to ensure long-term success.
Getting enough protein in on a vegan diet might seem like an impossible task at first, but there’s nothing you can’t achieve with proper planning and preparation. Now that you know how to get the right amount of protein in every day, go ahead and set the stage for a lifetime of health and happiness.