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A Guide to Plant-Based Protein

July 25, 2017

A Guide to Plant-Based Protein

If you're a busy, yoga-loving, booty barre burning woman that eats mostly plants, it's particularly important to pay attention to how much protein you're consuming.

There isn't a one-size-fits-all prescription for how much protein you should eat, but there are some general guidelines you should follow to make sure that you are getting enough to feel great. Here's a quick refresher on why protein is so important, as well as an easy guide to help you determine how much and which kind you should be eating based on your body's needs. 

The scoop 

Protein is essential for promoting lean muscle, revving your metabolism, and building connective tissue, blood, enzymes, hormones and hair. It's also been shown to help suppress appetite by decreasing levels of ghrelin, the hormone that makes you hungry (1, 2). 

For all of our plant lovers out there, it's important to remember that protein is made up of amino acids. Some amino acids are made in the body while others (essential amino acids) must be sourced through food. Animal products contain a full amino acid profile but most plants do not. While that can sound a little bit daunting, combining the right plants and eating a wide variety is key to consuming a complete amino acid profile and getting enough protein to support your body (3). So, how much protein do you really need and from which sources? 

Your daily dose

When it comes to protein intake, every body is different. Depending on how active you are, and your weight and weight goals, you're going to need a different amount of protein to keep you happy and healthy. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) is .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or .36 grams per pound. So to calculate that, roughly divide your body weight (lbs) by 3, and you'll know the grams of protein you need per day. It's important to know that this is the very bare minimum you need if you are a sedentary woman. So, if you are doing any kind of activity throughout the day, looking to build lean muscle, lose weight or keep your appetite at bay, you're going to need to bump up your daily intake. Our suggestion is to up your intake slowly every day and notice how you feel. Most doctors suggest .5 to .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight for active women, but tune into your body to find out what works best for you (4). 

Equally as important is protein timing and the source. Doctors suggest you consume between 10-20 grams of protein immediately following a workout to help your muscles recover and stimulate fat loss. There's a bit of a misconception out there that only bros or people looking to build muscle mass need protein after a workout, but that's not true! Consuming protein after you finish a workout is the best way to fight off hanger and/or relentless snacking, and to ensure that you don't end up arriving at your next meal ravenously hungry such that you overeat or lack the discipline needed to pick the healthier alternative.  In short, consuming just a little bit of protein after your workout can go a long way to keeping a lot of junk out!

The sources 

While there are some plants out there that have the complete amino acid profile, many of them are very low in one or more of the essentials. So to ensure a robust profile, it's important to mix and match your plant proteins so that you're getting everything that you need.

One of our favorite plant proteins is pea protein. This protein is one of the most hypoallergenic proteins out there, meaning it's easy on your stomach and doesn't cause any bloating like many other protein types. Pea protein has also been shown to help suppress ghrelin, your hunger hormone. 

We also love chia and hemp seeds. Chia seeds contain all 9 essential amino acids and are great at stabilizing your blood sugar and keeping you full. Hemp seeds are also packed with protein and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (bonus points!).

Quinoa, amaranth, garbanzo beans, and buckwheat are also rockstar sources of protein with powerful amino acid profiles. Mix these in with a wide variety of leafy greens and there's no doubt your body will thank you! 

Wrapping up

If you're able to take anything away from this post, it's hopefully these three things:

  1. The recommended minimum daily protein allowance needed for a sedentary woman is a third of her body weight (lbs) in grams of protein but do what feels right for you and your body. 
  2. The timing of your protein consumption is important -- post-workout is especially key, regardless of your fitness goals.
  3. Plant proteins offer differing and often complementary amino acid profiles, and should be mixed to ensure your body doesn't miss out on any of the essential amino acids.

Until next time!

Après HQ Xx


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