How to Choose the Best Vegan Protein for Maximum Results
There is so much misinformation out there about protein and where to get it, and things only get murkier once you realize that animal protein in abundance is actually detrimental for your body. We’re taught from an early age that you are supposed to chow down on meat and that’s how you get big muscles.
It might as well be classified as “common sense.” The truth is a lot more complicated, though. Those “complete proteins” everyone used to rave about are actually not meant to be digested by human beings. We actually have a hell of a time trying to break down proteins in animal-based substances – and it’s no wonder. As glorified monkeys, we were most assuredly never meant to bite into the hides of cows and pigs and start munching away, despite how much we’ve attempted to adapt to such a practice over the tens-of-thousands of years that we may have been doing it.
The point is, when it comes to getting information on what protein your body needs, it’s the Wild West out there.
The good thing is though, that ample research has been done over the past few years on this issue, lighting a clear path for anyone wanting to understand this complex subject. We’re here to distill this information and serve it to you in a more digestible format.
Despite how accessible the findings on plant and animal-based proteins are, there’s still plenty of bad opinion and flat out mythology out there, so we want to do our part to eradicate some of this excess and get to the heart of the information you need.
Let’s dive into it.
Not All Protein is Created Equal
This is especially true for those of us who work out on a regular basis.
It is true to a degree that a healthy diet will give you just about the perfect amount of protein for rigorous use of the body, but if you are specifically trying to body-build or lose weight, you might want additional information tailored to your needs. The most important factor in doing this is, stick to plant-based protein. Period. It’s 2017, there’s no need to get second-hand protein from animals.
For anyone who is reading this that thinks this is just for vegans, no meat-eaters welcome, quite the contrary.
We understand that everyone is on their own path and is evolving in their own way. We’re not here to discuss that, but what is pertinent to this topic is that plant-based protein is simply better. Full stop, end of story. Our bodies have to expend far more energy to digest animal protein, all for less benefit.
If you are serious about your gains, it’s time to switch to plant-based. You’ll thank me later, and so will your body.
Organic Protein Optimized For Body Building
The “protein shake” has become something of a workout staple over the past couple of decades, but does yours have everything you need in it? It’s not exactly a secret that many body builders don’t exactly get scientific when it comes to crafting their beloved beverages. It’s often a game of “how many grams of protein can I cram into this 16oz bottle.” Nothing else is taken into account, perhaps besides the rare electrolyte or smattering of creatine.
Our bodies expend a lot more than just calories during a workout, and we evolved in such a way that our “fuel” is supposed to be taken from plant sources. The vitamins, minerals, and intangible trace amounts of phyto-nutrients and amino acids found in fruits and vegetables are essential for rejuvenating and energizing the body after an intense workout session. Trust and believe, when a Gorilla feels tired after a long day of doing whatever it is that Gorillas do, they don’t sit down at Outback Steak House for a Ribeye, they dig into some juicy foliage.
Now, we’re not advocating that you dig into the neighbor’s bamboo tree (are we??), but the point still stands: if you are looking to fuel your body, don’t settle for the cheap stuff. Think of chicken, beef, pork, milk, and whey powder as the gas you put in a cheap car. You’re not a cheap car, you’re a Lamborghini. (How’s that for motivation?)
So what constitutes an acceptable protein for your body if you’re trying to build muscle?
Well, first off, you want protein that your body is going to rapidly absorb, and that has all of the phyto-nutrients still attached to it, which will aid in digestion and assimilation. You also want to avoid cooking this food as much as possible, as we know that cooking breaks down and destroys proteins, regardless of where they come from. Actually, cooking in general takes away from the nutritional value of food, but that’s a topic for another time.
The key here is to get raw, concentrated plant-based protein from a plant or mixture of plant sources that are optimized for assimilation. For body-builders, pea and brown rice protein powders are often the go-to. This is because both of these plants contain high levels of extremely compatible protein for our bodies, as well as having plenty of all of the extra stuff our bodies appreciate after a hard workout, that often go missed. You might hear the term BCAA thrown about when discussing protein powders: these are Branched Chain Amino Acids, which aid in sustained muscle growth and muscle recovery.
The optimal form of these amino acids can be readily found in pea protein, for instance. Chia seeds and quinoa are also two protein-rich plant-based foods that have BCAAs and fatty acids that our body needs after a strenuous workout. These natural substances supercharge your muscles, increasing both gain potential and recovery time.
Essential Plant Protein for Increased Metabolism and Healthy Weight Loss
In order to truly understand how your body deals with weight, you have to know a thing or two about metabolism. In short, it doesn’t really matter what you eat or what you do, until your metabolism is corrected, your body is going to be out of balance, and that often manifests as weight gain.
That may be a slight exaggeration (because a healthy diet and proper exercise often lead to a balanced metabolism), but in order to take control of your body’s weight issues, you should think of it as a “metabolism problem”, not a “fat problem.” In that sense, your workout should be aiming toward the singular goal of righting your metabolic functions, not necessary cutting calories or pounds or anything of the sort. Balance begets results. If you correct the imbalances of the body, everything tends to fall into place.
So what is the best plant-based protein powder for correcting the metabolism?
While pea protein is full of a wide variety of nutrients that do help in this field, we feel it might be slightly edged out by hemp protein. Besides simply being packed with healthy amino acids, hemp has what appears to be the perfect combination of fats, carbs, and phyto-nutrients to bolster your metabolism while also feeding your muscles.
A good plant-based protein powder with hemp, in tandem with proper exercise and diet, and greatly assist your body in the process of righting itself and getting back on track. Not all vegan / plant protein powders contain hemp, however, so it is important to shop around and find the best ones.
Other Important Factors in Choosing the Best Vegan Protein
The protein powder industry has long been plagued by the use of artificial sweeteners and other additives, especially on the animal-based side of things.
Whether its for flavor or to toss in some extra vitamins, many brands have no problem with pumping their powders full of who-knows-what for the sake of looking like the best on the market. Don’t fall for the ploy.
The best part about plant-based protein powder is that, since it is derived from healthy substances such as pea and rice, all the nutrients you could ever want are right there included, without the need for additives. They are often fine tasting when added to water, though the best way to incorporate them into your diet is through smoothies. When crafting a smoothie for your workout, take care to familiarize yourself with the ingredients of your protein powder, and make a smoothie that compliments what’s in it. And don’t feel the need to overload your smoothie with extra protein. Remember, we can only make use of limited amounts of protein per day.
It’s far more important to get a balanced array of phyto-nutrients and antioxidants that really feed all aspects of your body, rather than trying to cram 50 grams of protein a single smoothie. There’s no point in that. Eat smarter and more in line with what our bodies were designed for, not what a marketing company or fitness magazine thinks you should do.
Want more information on eating healthy? Check out our awesome smoothie recipes here!
Here’s my current favorite vegan protein powder, if you’re curious.