Vegan Protein Alternatives
The plant-based community is growing and at The Transformation Chef we are all about supporting your dietary choices. Some people opt to go plant-based for environmental reasons, others for ethical reasons and some simply prefer the taste of plant-based foods. When consuming a plant-based diet we need to be aware of protein sources. If you’ve read our other blogs you may know that the recommendations for the general population are around 0.8-1g of protein per kg body weight. E.g. a 70kg individual would require between 56 and 70g per day. If you are particularly active you may require around 1.2g per kg body weight.
Protein is made up of individual amino acids. When protein is consumed the amino acids which are broken down and used for their various roles within the body. Protein has a higher thermic effect of feeding (aka TEF) which means that more energy is required to breakdown protein than carbohydrates or fats. The reason for this is because all the amino acids need to be separated.
There are 20 amino acids in total, 9 are essential which means they must be consumed within the diet, 7 are conditionally essential, this means the body can make enough although there are times such as trauma, disease or pregnancy when you may need to consume more of them and 4 are non-essential meaning the body can make enough.
The majority of animal products tend to have a complete amino acid profile which means they contain all of the 9 essential amino acids (in varying quantities). Protein from animal sources has a higher bioavailability than those found in plant sources. This means a much higher percentage of the protein from animal sources can be absorbed and utilised than that of plant sources. It’s for this reason that people are often concerned about protein intakes on a plant-based diet.
Having said this, it is possible to consume enough protein from plant foods to meet the demands of the essential amino acids. Foods such as quinoa, buckwheat and soy contain a complete amino acid profile. Since the bioavailability (e.g. the amount that can be absorbed and utilised) is lower you may need to eat plant sources of protein more regularly. Consuming a wide range of beans, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, pulses and soy is sure to provide you with adequate amounts.
Additionally, mycoprotein is a growing area of interest. You may be surprised to hear that mycoprotein (aka quorn) is not technically plant-based. The reason for this is because it doesn’t contain chloroplasts or cellulose – both of which are key components of plants. You might be thinking what makes mycoprotein a convenient protein source then? It’s far more environmentally friendly than animal sources, it’s lower in calories, fats and contains key nutrients such as iron, choline and fibre. It also happens to be a complete protein meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids.
We work hard to ensure that we have a wide range of vegan options to suit your needs. Have a look through our vegan range and be sure to opt for variety to ensure adequate amino acid consumption!
Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis