Let’s be real. It IS possible to be vegan and still be healthy, gain muscle, and even do bodybuilding. (Yes, we’re serious, and there are vegan bodybuilders out there proving to the world that plant-based can be powerful.) But, it can be challenging to get the end results that you want when you’re not sure where to get protein from. And, if you’re vegan, you probably get asked so often “Where do you get your protein?” that you actually start believing that it’s hard to get what you need. But, we’re here to tell you: you can absolutely get enough protein as a vegan. It’s getting COMPLETE proteins that can be a challenge. So, in this article, we’re going to talk about how find Vegan Complete Protein sources, or how to combine other proteins accordingly.
What Is A Vegan Complete Protein, Anyway?
When most people think of protein, they think of meat, eggs, and even dairy. And, that’s because that’s what we grow up learning about in school. Far away in the “vegetables and legumes” category is where most of the vegan sources of protein end up. But, it’s a mistake to delegate these powerhouses as secondary sources. Because, they can certainly power you up if you eat them in the right amounts! But, what’s the difference between a Vegan Protein and a Vegan Complete Protein, then?
Well, sources of protein contain these things called amino acids, which help repair and build up tissues in the body that are supported by proteins. So, we’re talking muscles, in particular. And, there are nine amino acids that the body can’t produce on its own, so you need to eat them. Now, while animal sources of protein (meat, fish, eggs, dairy) are complete, most plant-based proteins are not. And, that means you may not be getting all the essential amino acids. The good news is that it’s easy to get enough Vegan Complete Protein Foods in your diet. We’re going to teach you how!
Vegan Complete Protein | The 24-Hour Rule
Sure, eating meat ensures that you get the complete list of proteins all at once. But, is that even necessary? Actually, no. The good news is that your liver stores essential amino acids throughout the day that it can use later. So, if you eat a vegan protein that covers some amino acids for breakfast, you can always hit the other amino acids for lunch or dinner. And, the reality is that if you’re eating a balanced variety of nutritious vegan foods, you’re probably going to hit all the amino acids easily. So, as long as you’re not just eating vegan hotdogs all the time, your Vegan Complete Protein checklist should be checked off every night.
Vegan Complete Protein | The Essential Nine
So, what exactly are these mystical amino acids that your body needs? Well, let’s go over the nine essential ones (some others are conditionally essential, such as Arginine, but we’re not going to be talking about those in this article). These are the ones that you’ll need to think about when searching for the right Vegan Complete Protein. We’ve also listed the number of milligrams you should be consuming of each amino acid per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.
- Phenylalanine (+ tyrosine, a non-essential amino acid), 33 mg
- Valine, 24 mg
- Threonine, 20 mg
- Tryptophan, 5 mg
- Methionine (+ cysteine, a non-essential amino acid), 19 mg
- Leucine, 42 mg
- Isoleucine, 19 mg
- Lysine, 38 mg
- Histidine, 14 mg
The Golden Group: Vegan Complete Protein Sources
So, great, all you need to do is eat the right combination of food throughout the day, right? Yeah, basically. But, what if you have a weird eating schedule or only get the chance to eat one big meal throughout the day? (We don’t recommend it, but hey, we haven’t walked in your shoes.) Are there any Vegan Complete Protein Foods that are just…you know, complete to begin with? The answer is a resounding yes! In fact, check out the list below for the foods that you don’t even need to tweak to get your protein.
Hemp Seeds. 100 grams of the shelled seeds is the equivalent of 37 grams of Vegan Complete Protein. They’re also nutritionally complete in other ways. You can also buy hemp protein powder to get the job done, although it’s on the pricier side.
Chia Seeds. Yes, your favorite vegan pudding recipe just got the Vegan Complete Protein treatment! 100 grams of these babies equals 17 grams of protein. They also include fatty acids, antioxidants, potassium, and a nice amount of fiber. Now, chia is actually pricier than hemp, but if you haven’t made chia pudding, you haven’t even lived properly.
Pumpkin/Squash Seeds. 100 grams here is equal to 25 grams of Vegan Complete Protein. And, they go great in a variety of dishes, raw or baked. (Have you ever baked pumpkin seeds in the fall? Yes, please.) They also are rock stars when it comes to iron and zinc. You don’t want to ignore this baby on your Vegan Complete Protein list.
Soy. Sure, you’ve had soy milk, but soy is also showing up in a variety of vegan alternatives these days. And, of course you’ve probably heard that it can increase estrogen, and soy isolate may have a dark side akin to MSG. But, 1 cup of the cooked beans has 29 grams of protein. It may make you think twice about turning up your nose at miso, tempeh, or natto. It is a little short on Methionine, but you can have a few Brazil nuts or cereal grains if you’re concerned.
Quinoa. Sure, quinoa isn’t as much of a protein powerhouse as some of the nuts on this list. But, 1 cup (which goes great in virtually ANYTHING) will still deliver up 8 grams of Vegan Complete Protein. It also boasts quite a bit of iron, calcium, zinc, and other minerals.
Buckwheat. The Russians are onto something here. Buckwheat, which also has been termed kasha, is pretty tasty (in a nutty way) and relatively inexpensive. Plus, there’s lots of great fiber, iron, and zinc. Here, 100 grams has 13 grams of protein. Boil it as a warm cereal, make it into buckwheat pancakes…how you use this Vegan Complete Protein is entirely up to you.
Spirulina. The last food on our list of Vegan Complete Proteins is delightfully green and 100 grams of it delivers a whopping 57 grams of protein. However, you’re probably not going to be eating quite that much in one sitting. But, even one ounce has 2 grams of Vegan Complete Protein and also 44% of your RDA of iron. Add it to a smoothie or take it as a supplement if you hate the taste. Similar to soy, spirulina is on the low side when it comes to the sulfur amino acids (Methionine and Cysteine), but it does contain them.
Vegan Complete Protein: When You Have To Improvise
So, now you know all about which foods are awesome Vegan Complete Proteins. But, the problem is that you might not have access to all of these foods (or even any of them). What do you do if you need to rely on combinations to meet your amino acid needs? Well, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ve got some combos that will help you hit the Vegan Complete Protein requirements.
- Rice and Beans. So simple, so cheap. Beans tend to be low in methionine and high in lysine (those are two amino acids). Whereas, rice is low in lysine and high in methionine. So, when you stick these two on a plate together, you’ve suddenly filled in the gaps. And, if you’re not a fan of beans, lentils or chickpeas will totally do the trick.
- Ezekiel Bread. Not everyone here has read the Bible all the way through (guilty). But, it turns out that whoever wrote the Book of Ezekiel was onto something. If you turn to Ezekiel 4:9, you’ll see that they literally give instructions on how to make bread from unconventional ingredients. This loaf includes wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt. Well, dang. Who knew that the good word was so wise on Vegan Complete Protein?
- Seitan and Soy Sauce. You may not have heard of Seitan, but it’s basically a meat substitute that is made from vital wheat gluten. As long as you add something containing lysine (soy sauce is a good choice), you’re going to get the full Vegan Complete Protein checklist all cleaned up.
- Pita Bread and Hummus. Chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, is rich in lysine. Wheat (generally the main ingredient in pita) lacks it. The good news is that pita bread and hummus is a Mediterranean staple turned vegan favorite snack. So, yes, you can veg out and still get those Vegan Complete Proteins that you need.
- Your Childhood Favorite Peanut Butter Sandwich. This is one of those times when you can really see how legumes and grains come together to be a perfect combination. Just throw some peanut butter on whole wheat and you’re good. Sure, it has quite a few calories, but if you’re grabbing something to eat on the way out the door, you could do worse for your Vegan Complete Protein.
Conclusion: It’s Not Hard To Get Your Vegan Complete Protein
In the end, we have to say – seriously, don’t sweat it. If you’re spending all your time and energy worrying about hitting just the right amount of Vegan Complete Protein in your diet, you’re probably not enjoying your diet much. So, use your energy to examine your macronutrients and micronutrients, or, better yet, just eat what sounds good to you (within reason). We know that low-carb is all the rage these days, but you can rest assured that those grains are helping you get all the Vegan Complete Protein that you need.
Oh, and if someone asks you where you get your protein? We invite you to politely laugh.