Can plant protein build muscle?
Yes, it can. Plant sources contain protein from amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. Keep in mind that building muscle and becoming stronger also requires putting muscle fibers through stress from movement, such as lifting weights, labor work, or any activity that moves your body using some sort of resistance.
It’s important though to also stay hydrated to prevent muscle breakdown and shrinking of muscle cells. Muscles are made up of at least 70% water. Maintaining protein synthesis through ingesting quality plant or animal protein supports muscle growth.
Many plants, legumes, and grains contain amino acids. Their amino acid profile though may be different from each other, but each can complement one another. This is why it is important to consume a variety of plant-based foods, especially if you are tending to eat more of a vegan diet.
What other benefits does plant protein provide?
Amino acids from plants can balance each other. Legumes have a certain amino acid profile different than grains, so by combining both within a meal can assure a more complete and balanced amino acid profile.
Plant protein is also beneficial in the fact it is lower in calories and higher in disease-fighting gut-healthy fiber. Fiber keeps the gut running smooth and provides a medium for good gut microbes. Protein is also a great way to help reduce hunger which can aid in weight loss.
Also, during times of stress, muscle recovery, and injury our protein requirements are greater. Animal sources of protein contain needed iron for improving the body’s production of red blood cells and oxygen to our tissues. Some good sources of B12 and iron from plants include hemp seed protein, sacha inchi, spirulina, seaweeds, soy, lentils, pea, and moringa. High-quality plant-based sources also contain valuable minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Do Vegans get enough B12?
Vitamin B12 is one nutrient that vegans and even animal food consumers fall short. Vitamin B12 is valuable for keeping nerves healthy. B12 is produced by bacteria. Animal sources offer B12 because they accumulate B12 bacteria during their lives through what they eat.
Certain modern farming practices have depleted nutrients in the soil, and herbicides/pesticides make the good bacteria less viable and therefore reduces B12 and absorption. Organic farming, with the use of manure, enhances vitamin B12. A healthy gut ensures the best avenue for B12 absorption. Many of us, whether vegan or not, may have to supplement with vitamin B12 because of these absorption issues. Look at your supplement for B12 contents along with gut enhancing prebiotics and probiotics. This will ensure the best approach for a healthier stronger body.