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Meatless Protein: Top 10 High Protein Vegan Foods For All The Vegan Gym People!

Meatless Protein: Top 10 High Protein Vegan Foods For All The Vegan Gym People!

It’s very hard to be a vegan athlete: Not only do they have to plan their meals more carefully than their meat-eating counterparts, but they are also frequently subject to intense skepticism and scrutiny from the athletic community at large. You can’t gain muscle if you don’t eat meat. There’s no way you’re getting enough protein to accommodate your workout schedule.

Do any of these statements or questions sound familiar?

If you’ve been a vegan athlete for more than, say, a week, I’m betting the answer is “yes”.

These comments are annoying and misguided. Still, they do have a small grain of truth to them: If you’re working out regularly, then it’s vital to consume plenty of protein on a regular basis. That’s because protein provides our bodies with the fuel they need to power through workouts and recover after them.

Here’s what happens if athletes (whether vegan or carnivorous) don’t consume enough protein:

Your body will break down muscle instead of building it.

When you aren’t eating enough protein, your body needs to find fuel somewhere else—and if it gets desperate enough, it will start “feeding” on your own tissues in order to do so. More specifically, the body will start to tear down muscle tissue[1] in order to obtain the amino acids that are necessary for sustaining the function of your organs. Obviously, the loss of muscle mass is the last thing any athlete wants.

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It will take longer to recover from injuries.

Our bodies require protein[2] in order to repair damaged cells, skin, and tissues. When we’re not consuming enough protein, our bodies won’t recover from injuries as quickly, and we’ll suffer from decreased immunity overall. This can be a major setback for anyone attempting to follow a rigorous training plan.

You’ll feel tired all the time.

If you’re not getting enough protein—especially as an athlete—then you’re liable to suffer from chronic fatigue[3] or a general sense of sluggishness. This can seriously impair your workout routine, because you’re less likely to show up for your workouts or power through intense workouts if you’re constantly feeling tired.

So it is true that protein should play a major role in athletes’ diets. But it certainly is not true that it’s impossible for vegans to eat a high-protein diet. We’ll prove it in the following section.

High-Protein Foods for Vegan Athletes

There is a huge variety of vegan foods that are packed with protein. Below, we’ve highlighted 10 of the best.

Chia seeds

    These teeny tiny little seeds are known as a superfood for a reason: They pack four grams of protein into just two tablespoons, and they also boast plenty of other nutrients in the form of calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds can be added raw to a variety of dishes, from smoothies to oatmeal or yogurt parfaits. Give them a try in this recipe for Chia Vegan Protein Muffins.

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    Edamame

      Young soybeans (aka edamame) boast 11 grams of complete protein per half cup, which makes them a stellar source of protein. They’re also a great source of other nutrients including calcium, fiber, folate, iron, and vitamin K. Make sure to steam or boil edamame prior to eating. Once you’ve done that, you can enjoy edamame on salads, in noodle dishes, or simply as a finger food. For starters? Check out this recipe for Vegan Pho with Carrots and Edamame.

      Hempseed

        While they might not have the same reputation as chia seeds, hemp seeds are just as deserving of acclaim. They boast 10 grams of prot ein per two tablespoons in addition to calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, omega-3s, and all nine essential amino acids. Like chia seeds, hempseed can be eaten raw or added to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, and other dishes. Get hooked with this recipe for Raw Pumpkin Hemp Seed Protein Bars. Hempseed can also be enjoyed in the form of hemp milk.

        Legumes

          This is a huge category, but it deserves its own entry thanks to the sheer volume of protein-rich foods that fall under it. From lentils to black beans, chickpeas, green peas, and virtually all other beans, legumes promise anywhere from seven grams of protein (for most bean varieties) to nine grams of protein (for lentils) per cooked half cup. What’s more, they also boast plenty of fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, and other nutrients. Cooked legumes can be incorporated into a wide range of recipes; get started with this recipe for Orange-Infused Black Beans.

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          Nuts, seeds, and nut butters

            We’ve already mentioned chia and hemp seeds, but other seeds and nuts deserve mention on this list as well. From cashews to pumpkin seeds and peanut butter to pecan butter, virtually all nuts, seeds, and nut butters pack a substantial protein punch. (One serving of nuts, seeds, or nut butters can have anywhere from five to nine grams of protein.) What’s more, nuts and seeds are great sources of other nutrients such as calcium, fiber, healthy fats, iron, magnesium, selenium, and a variety of vitamins. Give them a try in this recipe for West African Spinach with Spicy Peanut Sauce.

            Nutritional yeast

              This powdery yellow substance tastes a lot like cheese, but don’t let that fool you. It’s definitely vegan. It’s also packed with protein—the deactivated yeast contains a whopping 14 grams of complete protein per ounce. It’s also a good source of fiber, and it’s sometimes fortified with other nutrients including B vitamins, copper, magnesium, and zinc. The powder can be added as-is to tofu scrambles, mashed potatoes, popcorn, and basically any other dish that might usually call for cheese. Try it out in this recipe for Vegan Alfredo.

              Quinoa

                Quinoa isn’t just packed with eight grams of protein per (cooked) cup. It’s also loaded with fiber, iron, magnesium, and manganese, all of which are important micronutrients. As an added bonus, it’s very easy to cook and makes for a versatile ingredient that works well in everything from casseroles to salads and baked goods. Give it a try in the form of Vegan Quinoa and Black Beans.

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                Rice and Beans

                  This classic combination boasts seven grams of protein per (cooked) cup. The pairing makes for an especially great way to refuel after a workout thanks to the fact that it contains both protein and carbs. And if you thought rice and beans were boring, think again—try them out in this delicious recipe for Mango Salsa Black Beans and Coconut Rice.

                  Tofu

                    The product of fermented soybeans, tofu is a classic vegetarian and vegan staple for a reason: It’s packed with 21 grams of protein per four ounces. It’s also incredibly versatile in the kitchen (and it’s cheap, to boot) Tofu is safe to consume cold, but it’ll taste much better cooked. Experiment with adding tofu to stir fries, curries, casseroles, and other dishes. Not sure where to start? Give this recipe for Spicy Thai Braised Kale and Tofu a try.

                    Vegetables

                      While many athletes choose to drink their veggies in the form of green juices, vegan athletes may want to consider also eating them whole. That’s because many cooked vegetables contain fairly impressive levels of protein. These include artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, kale, and spinach, all of which contain anywhere from four to five grams of protein per cooked cup. Eat them on their own or enjoy them in a range of recipes including soups, stews, and casseroles. Try this Sautéed Kale with Tahini-Lemon Sauce as just one example.

                      The next time someone tells you that being a vegan athlete is an oxymoron, show them this list. The truth is it’s entirely possible to eat a vegan diet that’s jam-packed with protein.

                      Reference

                      More by this author

                      Kenny Kline

                      Entrepreneur

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                      Last Updated on December 2, 2019

                      10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

                      10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

                      Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

                      In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

                      These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

                      1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

                      Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

                      But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

                      Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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                      2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

                      You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

                      The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

                      3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

                      If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

                      Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

                      If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

                      4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

                      Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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                      To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

                      In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

                      5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

                      We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

                      If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

                      Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

                      “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

                      6. Give for the Joy of Giving

                      When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

                      One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

                      So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

                      7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

                      Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

                      Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

                      8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

                      When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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                      So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

                      9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

                      Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

                      It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

                      It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

                      10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

                      There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

                      But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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                      Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

                      More About Living a Fulfilling Life

                      Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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