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26. April, 2021 | Blog

An article that suits you: A deep dive into plant protein

Plant-based diets and protein supplements are taking the world by force. Seitan, tofu and tempeh are common meat alternatives for vegans. Plant protein is safer and healthy, for you and for the planet.

Vitaminfood is a recommended choice for plant based protein shakes and protein shakes without sugar. Vitaminfood offers healthy plant based protein powder supplements and shakes. Not vegan junk like some popular vegan meat alternatives and burgers. Plant protein can also be obtained from protein bars and inclusive meal plans.

Why should you switch to plant-based protein sources and a generally plant based diet? The reasons are many and fully justified. Topping the list are the health benefits and sustainability issues.

Reasons to adopt plant based meals and protein sources.

There are two major reasons:

  1. Health benefits

Animal products, especially red meat, have been linked to non-communicable diseases like heart complications and cancers. Studies upon studies are there to back up these claims. Plant-based proteins are a healthier alternative, reducing the risk of diseases like cancer by up to 40%. For sportsmen and regular people alike, this is a performance boosting and life-lengthening solution.

  1. Sustainability goals and impact on the environment

Plants also require way less resources for the same quantity of protein compared to animal protein. Less water, less fertilizers for growth and less fuel for processing. Pound for pound, the carbon footprint is incredibly smaller for plant production than for animal rearing and processing (90% less water).

The stunning fact is, with such minimal resources, plant protein is still healthier and delivers a complete protein profile.

For those preparing their meals, you need to balance your protein sources. Varying protein sources is as easy as switching between different animal protein sources (eggs, milk, meat) or having grilled meat today because you’ve had fried chicken the last few days. Such is the simplicity it takes to get all 9 essential amino acids and do away with animal protein or at least reduce their intake greatly. Peas and soy have a complete protein profile.

Let us dive deeper into plant-based sources of protein and the general health benefits that come with this transformation.

Health benefits of plant- based protein.

  1. The protein package

Proteins are just but one part of our nutrition. Many protein sources, more so, animal protein supplements deliver just that- protein alone. This leaves you deprived of the other vital nutrients. Protein should come as a complete nutrition package. Plants and Vitaminfoood vegan protein shakes deliver a complete protein package. Carbohydrates, vitamins, photochemical, saturated fats and minerals.

These in turn accrue more health benefits that would otherwise not be claimed from protein alone. For example, detoxification of free radicals by antioxidants.

  1. Take care of your muscles.

Proteins are necessary for feeding muscles, repairing worn out tissues and rebuilding torn muscles. This makes it a priceless appliance for development and fitness.  This is a basic use for proteins and plants also help with this.

Plant proteins like peas and hemp increase muscle thickness and tenacity.

  1. Improve athletic performance

Meat has for long been the sports diet but that is changing too. Many athletes are racing for a vegan or vegetarian diet including The William Sisters who rule in womens’ tennis, Tom Brady who is a top NFL player, Lewis Hamilton- formula one, Kyrie Irving- NBA, and more in the NFL, MMA, Triathlons, UFC.

Plant-protein improves performance and recovery. It reduces inflammation by its antioxidant properties. It also takes care of your cardiovascular health which is a major stumble for endurance trainers because of the high pressure tension. Plant-based diet will help you achieve your desired excellence.

Vitaminfood too is used by several high intensity trainers in our partner gyms and lifestyle centers; we have delivered nothing but the best to our trusted customers. We can help you boost your recovery and repair the cellular damage from inflammation caused by lactic acid.

  1. Fight off disease

Unlike animal sources which increase disease risks and lower life-expectancy, a plant based diet shake will help you ward off diseases at the slightest signal.

A healthy plant protein shake supplies vitamins and minerals in bulk boosting your required daily intake. Plants also have bioactive compounds and antioxidants for your immune system.

Our healthy shakes are minimally processed to equal natural diets. Vitaminfood retains all phytochemicals and adds maca root powder to the protein powders and shakes to provide the accompanying extra benefits.

  1. Weight loss

Meal replacements and healthy protein shakes can help you on your weight loss journey. Here is how- protein lowers the glycemic index of food thereby releasing less glucose into the bloodstream. It also helps burn more energy as they are more difficult to digest.

You will retain healthy muscle mass by eating more protein as you shed the unhealthy fat and burn extra calories.

Plant-based protein that is minimally processed and unrefined boosts fiber levels in your diet. This makes you feel fuller for longer than meaty diets. Some sources like hemp also reduce the sugar cravings. This way you reduce snacking intervals and lose weight faster and healthily.

  1. Healthy fats

Plants have low cholesterol levels and high amounts of linoleic and alpha-linoleic acids. Vegan sources of protein can reduce the low-density lipoproteins(LDL) in the bloodstream. This LDL is the bad cholesterol while the high-density is the good cholesterol.

Complications such as clogged vessels and hypertension are taken care of with a sound nutrition choice instead of medically.

  1. Gut health

Colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome(IBS) and intestinal irritability are some of the gut health problems. Fiber, prebiotics and probiotics found in plants  take care of these problems and reduce cancer risks.

Constipation too is relieved by eating plant diets. Meat is one of the most difficult foods to digest for humans.

The interaction of gut microbiome and meat also affects these helpful organisms increasing obesity, diabetes and cancer risks. Plant protein however, has counterintuitive effects in that it nourishes the good bacteria rather than destroy.

  1. Clear, no acne skin and younger looks

Collagen production is favored by plant-based diets which reduce inflammation. This results in healthier skin with a younger look.

Collagen makes up 80% of your skin; the largest organ of the body. It gives the skin and other organs structure.  Protein sources that cause inflammation reduce collagen production and affect skin appearance.

Clearing up your skin will improve the excretion and signal that other body structures are also healthy.

  1. Organic

Vitaminfood is prepared from organically sourced ingredients ensuring you no hormones or antibiotics or toxic chemicals in your food.

It is also easier to grow or obtain and verify organic plant protein sources than it is for animals.

 How do plant and animal sources differ?

Plant protein differs from  animal protein in amino profile and protein quality. Animals though unhealthy, provide complete protein while for most plants with the exception of soy and peas, are incomplete. However, mixing, varying and alternating sources which is a very easy process, solves this problem.

Animal protein is difficult to digest forcing the body to pump enzymes but plants are less complex. Ascorbic acid also aids in absorption of plant nutrients like iron and amino acids. The quality, a measure of digestibility and absorption rates, differs from one plant to another.

Next is a comparison of some top plant protein sources and their isolates – pea, soy, wheat, chickpeas, kidney beans, hemp, rice and chia seeds.

Pea protein:

Peas are well famed for their high iron amounts. They are probably the highest ranking among the popular plant protein sources. Peas are also rich in magnesium, folate and potassium.

Pea protein is also well tolerated and has very minimal side effects, These are also Vitaminfood’s choice protein and are discussed in greater detail separately.

Its health benefits include:

  • Is a complete source of protein with all the 9 essential amino acids.
  • It is suitable for people in special diets – allergen free, vegan, gluten-free and dairy free.
  • Helps build muscle just as good as whey does and even greater muscle thickness than whey does. It is high in Branched-chain amino acids.
  • Good for heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Promotes appetite and aids in weight loss – contradictory right… peas keep you full after eating heartily.
  • It undergoes one of the least processing for protein isolation and concentration. The process is actually mechanical allowing it to retain more nutrients than other chemically processed alternatives.

Possible downsides:

The levels of sodium, in the isolate could be too high but our solutions are well regulated.

Slightly lower in methionine than soy but still complete.

Soy protein:

Soy is one of the most famed plant proteins because of  its high protein content – 90% on average. Its beans are structured for maximum protein packaging making it a real boost for protein seekers. Soy is also a complete protein source.

It is also extra low in cholesterol and saturated fats and rich in fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, B Vitamins and phytochemicals.

More health benefits include:

  • Boost to cardiac health by impairing cholesterol absorption and reducing serum concentrations of total cholesterol. You need to take approximately 125g of soy protein per day to experience the effects.
  • Control hyperglycemia because its high protein content lowers the glycemic index of food. This could help diabetic patients.
  • Reduces cancer risks – soy contains genistein and daidzein a compound that prevents tumors from forming blood vessels for nourishment. This is especially true for breast cancer.
  • Inhibits expression of menopause signs and post menopausal syndrome. Soy contains isoflavones, a class of phytochemicals that act as phytoestrogens. This acts as a hormonal replacement like those administered in relevant PMS programs. Isoflavones mimic the effects of oestrogen reducing the manifestation of such signs as bone calcium loss.

Possible downsides:

  • The phytochemicals may be lost in chemical processing for protein isolation.
  • Soy has previously been linked to lowering testosterone and increasing phytoestrogens in males.
  • Soy is a common allergen causing hay fever, itching and anaphylaxis.
  • Could cause hypoglycemia for people with low sugar levels.
  • Can cause kidney stones from oxalates, inflammation, mineral deficiency from phytates inhibiting their absorption and increased cancer risks.
  • Soy is widely grown with inorganic farm inputs increasing its carcinogenic probability and is also widely subject to genetic modification.
  • Trypsin and protease inhibitors making it difficult to digest the protein from this source.

Brown rice protein:

Brown rice is highly hypoallergenic with no common allergens. It is very easily digested and free of stomach side effects.

  • Rice protein also helps with inflammation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Jaundice
  • Nausea
  • Paralysis
  • It also has a special thermic effect causing one to burn more fat.
  • Brown rice has a lot of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Possible downsides include the fact that rice growing in flooded fields leads to accumulation of chemicals. Traces of arsenic compounds have also been found in samples of brown rice following the method of cultivation.

The benefits making it recommended for diabetic patients are also limited to brown sticky rice and rarer in the protein isolate because of processing.

Hemp protein:

Hemp seeds are related to the cannabis sativa plant but different from marijuana.

It is a complete profile protein source with all 9 essential amino acids. It is also rich in magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and selenium.

Hemp provides healthy amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 in the 3:1 ratio which is nutritionally desirable.

Other benefits include:

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces symptoms of postmenopausal syndrome and skin diseases.
  • Has 80% water soluble fiber reducing the glycemic index.
  • Has branched-chain amino acids for muscles repair and thickness.
  • Cleanses the colon and fights sugar cravings.

Possible downsides are:

  • High amounts of fiber cause bloating, gas, anaemia and diarrhea.
  • Safety for pregnant and nursing women is in question. So is it for anaemic and reduced immunity people too.
  • Its earthy taste might be too strong for some people(if you’ve tried several plant products it shouldn’t be a great deal though.)
  • Linked to higher risk of bleeding by inhibiting platelet formation and interaction with anticoagulant medications.

Chickpeas

Their beige color is familiar for many who have tried plant-based nutrition.

One of its greatest strengths is choline. Choline boosts our mental health. Choline improves cognitive function, positively affecting brain and nervous function. This in turn helps the mood, memory, motor control and learning processes.

More benefits include:

  • Bone health – chickpeas have adequate amounts of iron and calcium that boost the bone health. Like peas they have high amounts of non-heme iron.
  • Blood pressure control- their potassium content balances sodium intake levels thus regulating blood pressure.
  • Heart – fiber, potassium, iron, selenium, B vitamins all work together for better heart health.
  • Selenium and beta-carotene also reduce cancer risks.
  • Chickpeas regulate cholesterol levels, blood glucose, dietary fiber and inflammation.

Possible downsides are:

  • Toxins are present in raw and uncooked forms.
  • Has complex sugars that are difficult to digest.
  • Potassium can cause kidney stones if taken for long periods.

Kidney beans

Kidney beans are a great source of protein, iron, and have a more diverse nutrient portfolio than most  plant proteins.

  • They are packed with starchy carbs which release glucose slowly.
  • Fibers are resistant to starch helping with weight loss.
  • Kidney beans also have prebiotics naturally which nourish gut  microbiomes.
  • Folate, molybdenum, iron, manganese, copper, potassium and Vit K are also in abundance.
  • Helps with colon cancer prevention with its bioactive compounds.

Possible downsides:

  • Severe bloating and flatulence for some people and only mild for others; need to be soaked first for those cooking.
  • Has antinutrients which impair nutrient absorption. These include phytates, protease inhibitors and starch blockers.
  • Toxic compounds and haemagglutinin which are not always desirable,

Wheat protein

Wheat protein is gluten, the sticky substance responsible for slight elasticity in dough, bread and some bakings. It is used to manufacture gluten-binder, filler and extender for the food industry.

Gluten is also a common allergen hence the need to remain vigilant for its presence in foods.

There are two types of protein- the monomeric and isomeric protein which wheat also vary with variety.   It has plenty of fiber in its unrefined state which could help with colon cancer.

Downsides of wheat as a source of protein include

  • A major downside is its damage to small intestines. For people suffering from celiac disease(damaged small intestines by sloughed off surface affecting absorption), gluten intolerance is also a likely effect. Gluten is therefore catastrophic for them and could lead to severe side effects like brain disorders because of nutrient deficiency.
  • The widespread cultivation of GMO varieties and inorganic farm inputs. These two factors combined greatly increase the risk of developing cancer. Farm chemicals are also known carcinogens.
  • Wheat is often greatly refined and is more of a norm for the industry – very few wheat products legitimately are whole grain. This e;liminates their fibre and phytonutrients leaving behind close to zero carbs.
  • Wheat also contains antinutrients like lectins and phytates which reduce the absorption rate for nutrients.

Other sources include:

Spelt which is from the wheat family and is an ancient cereal too. It is rich in zinc, has a moderate glycemic index and boosts digestive health.

Chia

Chia seeds are among the healthiest foods on the planet loaded with minerals for bone health and antioxidants for the immune system and omega3 and 6 for brain function.

They also are made of about 14% protein by weight making them ideal protein sources. Their carbs are also almost wholly fiber. Chia seeds are very healthy.

The downside is their cost which is a bit on the high end and their small recommended dosage of about 2 teaspoons per day. This is a great limiting factor for those looking to gain protein from chia alone. It is advisable to use it to complement nutrient deficient protein supplements.

Lentils

Lentils are affordable protein sources and beneficial too. Lentils are packed with fiber, selenium, folic acid and potassium.

These nutrients make them ideal for heart health, pregnancy and cancer prevention. They also provide nutritional satiety.

Those are the major plant protein sources, some of their benefits and a few possible downsides.

At Vitaminfood, we believe that a plant-based diet choice is a mindful choice.

Plant protein is a healthier alternative to meat and animal sources. Opt for Vitaminfood; a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diet and start reaping the benefits of eating green If the ascent seems to steep, begin slowly with reduction and slowly substituting with Vitaminfood, gradually increasing to complete elimination.

Vitaminfood meal replacement and protein shakes for your lunch or whichever meal of choice are available to support and sustain you along your journey. Get our vegan, organically sourced and sugar-free shakes now.

References:

  1.     https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595159/
  2.     https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/
  3.     https://www.myprotein.com/thezone/nutrition/benefits-side-effects-soy-protein/
  4.     https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/280244#risks
  5.     https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/nutrition/best-vegan-protein-shakes-powder-2020/
  6.     https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/on-the-go-plant-based-protein-shakes/
  7.     https://michaelkummer.com/health/best-vegan-meal-replacement/
  8.     https://khni.kerry.com/news/blog/nutritional-benefits-of-plant-proteins-taking-root-with-consumers/
  9.     https://www.eatthis.com/plant-based-protein-benefits/
  10. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/how-does-plant-forward-eating-benefit-your-health
  11. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/
  12. https://www.ndtv.com/food/if-you-are-an-athlete-follow-a-plant-based-diet-to-boost-your-performance-1976441

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