Guest post by Simon Hill founder of Plant Proof.
Are you plant-based or considering the switch but worried about where you’ll get enough protein? You’re not alone: protein is often cited as the main concern for people who eliminate or reduce meat from their diet – yet overwhelming scientific research has proven there is little reason to be concerned. In fact, a well-balanced plant-based diet with an adequate calorie intake can provide more than enough protein for both casual gym goers and elite athletes.
Before we jump into the best sources of protein on a plant-based diet, it’s useful to briefly touch on how much protein we actually need for performance results and optimal health.
The Australian Government’s Nutrient Reference Values
indicate that the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for an average person is 0.84
grams of protein per kg for men and 0.75 grams per kg for women. For example, a woman who
weighs 65kg should aim for 49g of protein each day. For those who are
particularly active and regularly engage in resistance training, this figure
goes up to 1.3-1.8 grams of protein per kg (if the individual is in calorie
maintenance or surplus) and between 1.8-2.2 grams of protein per kg if in a
calorie deficit as the extra protein may help maintain muscle mass during a
weight loss phase.
Now, what are the best foods to get protein from on a plant-based diet?
My favourite sources of protein are beans, tempeh, tofu, lentils and quinoa, but almonds, hemp seeds, peanuts, hummus and pulse pasta all provide plenty of protein per serving. Not only are these all these foods able to supply us with adequate protein, their benefits extend far past their protein content: plant foods are generally packed with dietary fibre, non-heme iron and unsaturated fats whilst being free from cholesterol and low in saturated fat, which are both typically abundant in animal protein and have been shown to increase cardiovascular disease risk . It’s also worth noting that the majority of plant foods such as vegetables or fruits also contain some protein, which may not seem like much in itself, but over the course of a whole day they can definitely add up.
While it is preferable to source protein from food, for a convenient protein boost without many additional calories, plant-based protein powder can be a good idea especially for those who are particularly active. To ensure a complete amino acid profile, opt for a vegan protein powder that blends different varieties of plant protein such as pea, rice and hemp. Not only have these been shown to be as effective as whey powder when it comes to muscle synthesis, but they are also generally much easier on the stomach. My advice would be to make sure the product is organic, as conventional protein powders can often be laced with synthetic fillers and heavy metals.
Above all, try not to stress the protein too much: the truth is protein deficiency is extremely rare, and in fact, most individuals on a standard western diet are consuming too much of it. This is problematic because when consumed in excess, protein is either stored in fat or it is excreted, causing a significant strain on our liver. The bottom line is that a well-balanced plant-based diet rich in legumes, nuts, grains, seeds and vegetables can easily supply the body with enough high-quality protein.
Plant Proof, a resource for a strong, lean and conscious plant based and vegan lifestyle. Founder Simon Hill, shares his personal experience with living plant-based and his wealth of knowledge on staying healthy.
You will find on the Plant Proof blog, an abundance of nourishing recipes and the Plant Proof Podcast. This podcast has inspired, impacted and reached millions of people. During this series he speaks to like-minded people about common fears among men and women transitioning from animal foods eg: “Will l get enough protein?” and “How do you get Iron?”.
Simon also joins a number of health and fitness experts hand-picked by Chris Hemsworth for the latest wellness app Centr. where he shares a number of healthy recipes to help you develop a healthier body and lead a happier, more balanced life.
 Briggs MA, Petersen KS, Kris-Etherton PM. Saturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Replacements for Saturated Fat to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk. Healthc Pap 2017;5. doi:10.3390/healthcare5020029.