2/3/16

Dietary protein options - take your pick


We have all heard the question that starts the age-old vegetarian protein debate "Where do you get your protein from if you don't eat meat???" If adequate energy and an assortment of plant foods, rich in essential amino acids, are consumed throughout the day, physiologically processes shouldn’t be compromised in a plant-based diet.  For all athletes, diet variety and adequate energy consumption are both key to ensuring that your body stays in great health. This includes eating a variety of carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Depending on your dietary protein choices, consider a variety of animal and/or plant protein sources in your daily diet as each protein source has more than just protein to offer to your body. Vegetarian athletes should make an extra effort to consume nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc, omega-3, vitamin D, B12 and niacin, particularly if the diet is lacking in food variety. 
Understanding that many essential nutrients are required in the countless metabolic pathways that support a body in motion, a chronic nutrient deficiency (or absorption issue) may result in health and/or performance complications. Although a real-food approach should be prioritized over nutrients found in a pill or powder, supplements and engineered fortified foods are an option to protect against (or to fix) a nutrient deficiency. If consuming 1 scoop whey isolate or vegan (pea/brown rice) protein powder (25-30 grams) per day helps you meet your protein needs more easily, that's what supplements are designed for - to supplement what you can not consume (or properly digest/absorb) in a real-food diet.
In addition to meat, eggs and fish, here are some additional plant-based protein sources below. You don't have to call yourself a vegetarian to eat plant-based proteins.
And for vegans, check out this link.