Plant-based eating is the health trend of 2016. More and more health-conscious individuals are jumping on the plant-based eating bandwagon in an effort to better their health from the inside out. Today I am breaking down one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to plant-based nutrition: Protein.
What is protein and why is it important?
Protein plays a huge role in the body helping to rebuild tissues and muscles, produce energy and hormones, maintain immunity and keeping our hair strong and shiny. Generally, protein is associated with animal foods like eggs, meat and fish- and with good reason. Animal protein is your sure way of getting a “complete” source of protein while on the other hand, most plant-based sources of protein are “incomplete”. Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids. Some of these amino acids are non-essential meaning our body has a steady supply of them due to our ability to make them ourselves. However, some of these amino acids are essential meaning we need to obtain them from foods.
If you eliminate animal protein from your diet all together, this is something you need to be cognizant of. The key is to include a variety of protein sources in your diet to ensure your body is getting the essential amino acids it needs. This may mean including animal protein in your diet or pairing complementary proteins like grains and nuts, for example. Additionally, there are several complete plant-based protein sources to be aware of. These include hempseeds and quinoa.
Finally, contrary to popular belief, meeting your protein needs is not difficult and in fact, is easily met by the majority of us. In America a healthy individual’s protein needs are dependent on their body weight. To determine the grams of protein you need in a day, simply take your body weight in kilograms and multiply it by 0.8. If you regularly engage in resistance exercise, your needs will be slightly higher.