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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 March 13, 2019

                      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                      1. Work on the small tasks.

                      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                      2. Take a break from your work desk.

                      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                      3. Upgrade yourself

                      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                      4. Talk to a friend.

                      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                      7. Read a book (or blog).

                      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                      8. Have a quick nap.

                      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                      9. Remember why you are doing this.

                      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                      10. Find some competition.

                      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                      11. Go exercise.

                      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                      12. Take a good break.

                      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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