“Where Do You Get Your Protein?”

We’ve grown up believing that animal products are the only source of adequate protein. Regardless of your diet, try telling someone you don’t eat meat and workout; they’ll probably wonder how you’re still living… Literarily.

Before I begin, I’d like to state that this is meant as a basic informative post regarding protein to help clarify some misconceptions about protein and vegan diets.

  1. If you do eat meat than you’re getting all the amino acids (protein) necessary so no need to start defending your steak and ribs at least in regards to this topic
  2. If you do not eat meat for dietary/personal reasons, or simply cutting back on your overall meat intake and need alternative options then keep reading

Lets start with the basics:

What is protein?
Protein is a combination of 20 amino acids that link together to form peptides. Our bodies naturally produces 11 of them, but 9 of them are essential because we can’t create them.

*When protein is talked about, the concern is with the intake of the 8 essential amino acids through our dietary intake.

Daily Protein Intake Requirements
Protein studies have been done based on nitrogen balance because nitrogen is a component of protein that fat and carbohydrates do not have. A nitrogen balance is used to determine the ideal amount of protein to eat. Therefore, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is to consume 0.8-1.0 grams for every kilogram of body weight.

  • Divide weight in pounds by 2.2 = protein g/kg/day

Animal Source vs. Plant-Based Protein
Yes, meat does contain all the essential amino acids needed and I am not denying it. A plant-based diet lacks all the amino acids within one particular food. This is why we eat a VARIETY of food! Mind boggling concept right!?The problem isn’t getting enough protein; it’s eating food that has high-lysine levels. Why?

Lysine: Limiting Amino Acid in Vegan Diets
Meeting the lysine daily requirement on a vegan diet means you will most likely also meet your daily protein intake. The RDA is 38mg/kg/day.

  • Divide weight in pounds by 2.2 and multiply by 38 = lysine mg/kg/day required

Per serving the highest-lysine levels are found within the following:

Fitness and Protein
Generally active people require more protein, but they also need more carbohydrates and fats. Overall, they require more of all the nutrients and a higher daily calorie intake. An increase of approximately 10% protein is advised. Therefore, the approximate protein recommendation for vegetarian athletes is 1.3–1.8 g/kg/day.
(Endurance athletes 1.2 to 1.4 g/kg/day and Strength athletes 1.2 to 1.7 g/kg/day).

  1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
  2. Weight in kg x 1.3-1.8 g/kg = protein g/day

Bottom line

  1. Our bodies require 9 essential amino acids through our diet intake
  2. Variety is key to obtaining all the nutrients in a plant-based diet specifically high-lysine
  3. Yes, raw vegans can meet the daily required protein intake

As you can see, the necessary protein intake even with an athletics lifestyle can be met with a raw vegan diet!
Happy plant-based protein building xo

Reference Chart: Amount & Protein Found Within Some Plant-based Food

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Cheeke R. (2007). Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness. Retrieved April 5, 2014, from http://www.veganbodybuilding.com/?page=article_protein
Crosby, H. (n.d.). Plant-Based Protein Information & Chart. Retrieved April 5, 2014, from http://yumuniverse.com/plant-based-protein-information-chart/
Frazier, M. (n.d.). Protein for Vegetarians | No Meat Athlete. Retrieved April 5, 2014, from http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegetarian-protein-primer/
Norris, J., & Messina, G. (2010). Protein. Retrieved April 5, 2014, from http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/protein
Protein | The Nutrition Source | Harvard School of Public Health. (2014). Retrieved April 5, 2014, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/
Tohi,W. http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/top-6-plant-based-proteins