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The Importance of Protein for Athletes with Plant-Based Diets

Approaches to nutrition are a very individual part of an athlete’s training regimen, and many athletes have moved toward plant-based and vegan diets. While there are various reasons behind these choices, supporting the training, competition and injury phases of an athlete’s macrocycle remains a fundamental component of performance nutrition, and protein is a central nutrient to that.

 

Nutrient Considerations

Diets that eliminate certain foods or whole food groups may result in various nutrient deficiencies. Following a plant-based or vegan diet may challenge some micronutrients (iron, zinc, vitamin B12, calcium and omega 3s) and complete protein sources. That’s not to say that deficiencies are guaranteed, more so that careful consideration is required when planning such approaches.

Proteins are made up of 20 amino acids and complete protein sources are those that contain all nine essential amino acids – the amino acids that can’t be made by the body and must be taken-in through the diet. Meat, dairy and fish are the obvious complete protein sources in the diet, but some plant-based options are complete too – soy, quinoa, hempseed and chia. Most other plant proteins provide some essential amino acids, so it is important to mix sources in each meal and eat a varied diet.

The Importance of Protein

Protein is often considered essential for active populations involved in weight training, gym classes, high-intensity training or endurance sports, in order to promote muscle remodelling. Indeed, our muscles contain hundreds of proteins that all perform a variety of functions that are essential to everyday life and, of course, exercise performance. For example, the contractile proteins are responsible for making our muscles produce force, the structural proteins provide structure to our muscles and the enzymatic proteins help provide the action molecules that can break down carbohydrate and fat to produce energy.

Protein ingestion in the post-exercise window and day-to-day can support muscle recovery and facilitate training adaptations. Training provides a stimulus that stresses and damages the muscle, known as muscle protein breakdown. The combined effects of exercise and protein feeding results in the formation of new proteins, referred to as protein synthesis. It is these repeated changes in muscle breakdown and rebuild, in response to every single training session, which forms the basis of how our muscles adapt, remodel and grow.

 

SiS Protein Powders and Bars

With protein being a key nutrient for active populations and not all plant protein sources delivering a complete amino acid profile, protein supplements are often considered to meet the performance demands of certain situations. REGO Rapid Recovery Powder is formulated with soy protein isolate to deliver 20g of protein per serving and has a complete amino acid profile with the addition of 2g of Leucine. Post-training, our muscles are in a state of breakdown and feeding them with high-quality, complete protein is required to stimulate the repair and rebuild process. REGO is a convenient way to meet these needs at this time.

We typically need in the region of 1.4-1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. As such, a 75kg individual would need between 105 and 135 grams of protein per day. Even if you train just 2-3 times per week, your need for protein intake is likely to increase towards the upper end of this range. Perhaps more important than total daily protein, however, is the pattern of ingestion throughout the day, where it is advised that protein is consumed as 20-40g feedings every 3-4 hours. In addition to high quality whole foods, protein supplements such as REGO and snacks such as Protein20 bars, formulated with soya protein isolate, pea protein isolate and pumpkin seed protein are a convenient option to meet those needs and ensure your daily protein intake is not compromised.

 

Take Home Messages

  • Protein is a key nutrient for those undertaking exercise and has several functions in the body as well as being essential for exercise performance and muscle remodelling.
  • Complete protein feeding of 20-40 grams every 3-4 hours is recommended, with a timely feeding post-exercise.
  • REGO Rapid Recovery Powder and Protein20 Bars are vegan-approved and are the ideal supplement for athletes that have moved toward plant-based and vegan diets.

 

Our entire range of nutrition supplements is now 90% vegan-approved and includes protein powders, bars, energy gels and more for assisting your training and helping you to reach peak performance. Explore our full range here.

You can also find out more about how to supplement your training with a plant-based diet here.

Written By

The Performance Solutions Team