What is protein?
Protein is one of three macronutrients. The other two are carbohydrates and fats. Micronutrients though are the vitamins and minerals that assist macronutrients. Protein is responsible for cellular growth and repair. Proteins are made of 21 amino acids. Amino acids create chemical reactions with the help of vitamins and minerals in order to help transport nutrients, keep the immune system strong, digestion smooth, our mind healthy, recover from injury, promote growth of hair, skin, nails, and growth in children.
What are sources of protein?
The highest quality protein sources come from animals, but there are many plant based sources with complete amino acid profiles even though they have a lower quantity of amino acids. There are 9 essential amino acids within the 21 that must be sourced from food and cannot be manufactured by the body, such as: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. The plants that contain some level of all 21 amino acids are: Quinoa, hemp, spirulina, soy, chia, lentils, amaranth, nutritional yeast, and most legumes.
Grains contain certain amino acids that legumes may not and vice versa, especially of the nine essential, so pairing a grain with a legume is one way to increase your protein profile. A good example of this is rice with beams or a peanut butter sandwich.
Why plant protein is so valuable?
Plant protein is so valuable because not only do certain plants contain protein, but plants are also packed with many other health boosting nutrients, fiber, and are low in fat.
Can vegans lead healthy lives and succeed in sports?
Protein isn’t the main driver of athletic performance as far as energy goes. Carbohydrates are an athlete’s main fuel and spares protein. During intense exercise and in times of injury, protein increase is wise as is complex carbohydrates from plants. Carbohydrates are burned as fuel. Increase in protein can be from either animal/fish flesh or milk, and high yield plant sources. Plant protein is especially valuable helping with the inflammation associated with injury.
– RAWr! Life.