Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

    Advertising

    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.

          Advertising

          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.

                Advertising

                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

                      This Is Why You Should Sleep on Your Left Side (Backed by Science) Meatless Protein: Top 10 High Protein Vegan Foods For All The Vegan Gym People! How to Cope with Common Sleep Problems: Insomnia, Snoring, and Waking Up Groggy How to Perfect Your Squat (and Transform Your Workouts in the Process) The Unexpected Way to Improve Everything About Your Sleep Quality

                      Trending in Health

                      1 10 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know 2 The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight 3 Why Am I so Depressed Lately? 4 Things That Are Secretly Baffling You 4 Why Am I Exhausted? The Real Causes and How to Fix It Forever 5 How to Manage Stress (A Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Stress Into Success)

                      Read Next

                      Advertising
                      Advertising

                      Last Updated on October 18, 2018

                      10 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know

                      10 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know

                      Sleeping is one of the most important things we do every night.

                      Getting the right amount of sleep has an untold number of health benefits and not getting enough sleep is a serious problem in many countries around the world.

                      So you should have heard of the many benefits of getting adequate sleep, but did you know that you can get additional benefits by sleeping naked?

                      Here are some benefits of sleeping in the nude:

                      Advertising

                      Video Summary

                      1. It is easier.

                      When you don’t have to worry about sleeping in clothes, things start to get easier. You don’t have to buy pajamas, which can save you money. You have less clothes to wash and less clothes to put away. You may have to clean your bed sheets more often, but not nearly as often as you’d have to wash your pajamas when you run out.

                      2. It forces you to be ready to go more often.

                      Some people get off of work, change into their pajamas, and use this as an excuse to stay home the rest of the evening. This can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle, which has been attributed to things like weight gain.[1] When you keep your regular clothes on, you tend to go out more often and that’s a good thing.

                      3. It can make you feel happier and more free.

                      Just imagine the feeling of laying in bed naked. You’re free of your pants and underwear. Women, you’re not wearing a constrictive bra. It’s just you sandwiched between two cool sheets. The feeling just makes you want to smile and it makes you feel more free. Everyone can use that kind of good feeling every now and then, and it may even help you be happier as a person.

                      4. Skin-on-skin contact is the best.

                      Advertising

                        If you’re married, or living with your significant other, sleeping naked gives a greater chance of skin-on-skin contact, especially when it comes to cuddling. This kind of contact can also lead to a more active sex life. All of this releases copious amounts of oxytocin, which is the neurotransmitter that helps you feel those good feelings about your significant other.[2]

                        5. It could lead to better sleep.

                        Let’s revisit the scenario I described above. There are no drawstrings or clothes getting tangled in sheets. You don’t have to worry about shirts getting twisted. All of these distractions go away when you sleep naked and it may help you get better, deeper sleep. You don’t need science to tell you that better, deeper sleep only helps you be healthier.

                        6. It can help your skin.

                        For once your body gets to breathe. Your private parts, armpits, and feet are generally restricted all day and are often covered by multiple layers, even in the summer time. Give those parts a chance to air out and breathe. This can lower the risk of skin diseases, like athlete’s foot, that result from wet, restricted skin.[3]

                        7. It helps you regulate your cortisol.

                        Cortisol is a very strange chemical in the body but it can do a lot of damage. When you sleep naked, it helps keep your body temperature at the optimal ranges so your body can better create cortisol. If you sleep overheated your cortisol levels tend to stay high, even after you wake up. This can lead to increased anxiety, cravings for bad food, weight gain, and more terrible things.[4] Sleep naked so you can keep your body temperature down and sleep well so your body can properly produce and regulate cortisol.

                        Advertising

                        8. It balances your melatonin and growth hormone.

                        Continuing along that same vein, keeping your sleeping environment below 70 degrees (F) every night can help your body regulate its melatonin and growth hormone levels. These chemicals help the body do things like prevent aging and are essential to good health. When you sleep in clothes, your body heats up and prevents effective use of these hormones. In other words, sleeping with clothes on makes you grow old faster.

                        9. It can keep your sex organs happier.

                        For men, the cooler sleeping conditions allows your testes to remain at a cooler temperature. This helps keep your sperm healthy and your reproductive systems functioning as normal. For women, the cooler and more airy sleeping conditions can actually help prevent yeast infections. Yeast grows better in warm, moist conditions.[5] When it’s cooler and dryer, the growth of yeast is prevented.

                        10. Sleeping in the summer is more bearable.

                          Summertime is a tricky time to get good sleep. If you don’t have air conditioning, then you may find your bedroom a bit stuffy at night.

                          Advertising

                          Shedding those bedtime clothes can help the bedroom feel more comfortable. You may even be able to turn the A/C off on those cooler nights, which can save you a few bucks on your electricity bill.

                          Don’t wake up drenched in sweat again because your thermostat is downstairs and the hot air expands up to your bedroom where the thermostat can’t read the warm temperatures.

                          Sleep well with your naked body!

                          With these tips in mind, it’s time to start taking off your clothes at night!

                          Of course, there are times where clothes are preferable. If you are ill or it’s cold outside, then you should sleep with clothes on to help you stay warm and prevent further illness. Otherwise, go commando!

                          If you’re looking for more tips to sleep well and get up feeling energetic, I recommend you to check out this guide:

                          Want to Feel More Energized Throughout the Day? Start With This

                          Reference

                          Read Next