It’s a cliche, sure, but there is no doubt that protein is a hot topic for those adopting a plant-based diet. I am a runner, a regular gym go-er and a newbie vegan, so – as my mum keeps telling me – I need my protein. But taking food supplements is something that I don’t really like the idea of. As far as I’m concerned, I want to be eating real food. I don’t feel that the diet I choose to follow should compromise me nutritionally and I try to get as much of the ‘good stuff’ I need from the food I eat, and not from tablets and powders.
There is LOADS of information out there about plant-based sources of protein – nuts, seeds, pulses, quinoa, tofu; you know the drill – and I try to include at least one of these in every meal and snack I eat (which basically means I get to smother everything in peanut butter. No complaints here). But is it enough?
Generally, I think the answer is – for me at least – yes. 1 cup of chickpeas contains around 39g of protein. To put that in perspective, according to an article in Harvard Health Publications, the RDA of protein is 0.8g per kg of body weight. For me, that means I need to be eating at least 40g of protein per day, minimum. So, 1 cup of chickpeas pretty much covers me right? Well, this is where the numbers don’t necessarily add up. On paper, I can get all the protein I *apparently* need from plant-based sources and there shouldn’t be an issue. BUT I think my body says otherwise. I do exercise a lot, and I love it, but after recently shifting to fully plant-based diet, I noticed my body becoming tired and struggling to recover from my training sessions. I was finding that I had all the mental strength to get me to the gym but I just didn’t feel like I was getting stronger and my poor body was getting more and more tired as the weeks went on.
So, I spoke to a nutritionist and we decided to try ramping up my protein intake with a daily serving of protein powder in my oatmeal at breakfast and/or a protein smoothie before a training session (*TOP TIP: add some blended silken tofu to your smoothie for an extra protein hit!*).
It’s been about 6 weeks since I’ve been doing this and I am really feeling the difference! Not only do I feel stronger in my running, my cross-training in the gym feels a lot more worthwhile – I feel like I’m making progress and even some of my little baby muscles are starting to make an appearance! Personally, I’m putting this down not only to the protein itself, but the extra calories and the extra energy that gets me to the end of a session. It has definitely made a difference.
So, the verdict? By adopting a plant-based diet I don’t feel like I am foregoing all chance of having an suitably protein-rich diet. In fact, I feel like it has encouraged me to be more creative in my food choices and more mindful of what my body needs. That being said, having a scoop of protein powder in my breakfast just takes the pressure off! I feel like I can be more flexible in what I choose to eat throughout the day, knowing that my body has started the day happy.
So, which protein powder do I use at the moment?
I have just received my first batch of Vivo Life Perform Raw Plant Protein & BCAA (Madagascan Vanilla flavour). The blend contains bio-fermented yellow pea-protein, ‘superfood protein complex’ (hemp protein, spirulina, chlorella), a plant-based BCAA complex, turmeric extract, digestive enzymes, Madagascan vanilla bean powder and pink Himalayan salt. It is gluten, dairy, and soy free, has no added sugar or artificial ingredients, has a complete amino acid profile and each serving has 25g of protein. Music to a health-freak’s ears! Not only that, all the packaging is 100% recyclable and Vivo Life give 20p from each purchase to StreetGames; helping to change the lives of young people through sport. Like, seriously, this is the stuff of dreams.
And, guess what? It tastes really good. I’ve tried some vegan protein powders which taste a little like sand, and others which try to cover up their sandy-ness with too much sweetness, but I think Perform has got it spot on. It adds a subtle sweetness to oatmeal and smoothies which reduces the need to add more of those pricey natural sweeteners and allows you to create your own fruity flavours which don’t get over-powered by the powder’s own flavour.
As far as I’m aware, you can only get Perform from Vivo Life’s own website at the moment (someone correct me if I’m wrong!) but delivery was super speedy and my brand-spanking new protein powder was at my door within two days of ordering. And then it was in my pancakes within 3 hours.
If any of you guys use supplements like this, I would love to hear about your experiences – just leave me a comment and I’ll holla right back at you! ALSO, I was going to write down the recipe for these protein pancakes for y’all but I think that might be a bit much for this post. SO, keep your eyes peeled for a recipe coming soon!
Peace out my loves