People choose to go vegan or vegetarian for any number of reasons. Your motivation in giving up animal products might be moral, religious or medical. Very often, people simply report that sticking to veggies just makes them feel better.
After making the switch people typically feel like they have more energy, are in a better mood and just generally feel less like garbage. That is, when they manage to maintain a balanced diet. Which is actually quite the challenge – particularly when it comes to meeting protein requirements.
Vegan protein powder is a convenient tool for helping vegans and vegetarians reap all the benefits of their healthy lifestyle. But, why? What does vegan protein powder do that can boost energy and mood?
The Protein Energy Problem
This is actually a fairly complex question. Technically speaking, protein is not used for generally used for energy – unless something is wrong. We'll discuss this in more detail a little later but protein is composed of amino acids which quite literally make up everything in your body.
That protein from your diet, then, needs to be broken down and used to build muscles and tendons and whatnot – it can't be burned for fuel. That's what carbs and fats are for. But protein impacts your energy systems in a less direct way – by causing a rise in the hormone glucagon.
While the more famous insulin lowers blood sugar levels by forcing your cells to absorb the free-floating sugar, glucagon has the opposite effect. At any given moment, your liver and muscle cells are in possession of enough glycogen to fuel your daily activities. Of course, there's also some fat tucked away, just in case.
When the levels of sugar in your blood get low, your body naturally releases glucagon which causes some of that fat and sugar to be broken down and used for fuel.
Since vegan protein powder can stimulate a spike in glucagon, it makes more fuel available to you without causing an energy crash that is associated with sugary meals.
All the Amino Acids and Antioxidants
As mentioned, protein is also made up of amino acids – which, in turn, make up tons of other important things in your body. These amino acids even because hormones and neurotransmitters that can influence your mood and energy levels by directly acting on your brain.
For example, tryptophan is an amino acid found in vegan protein powders and other protein sources that rushes right to your brain. Once inside, it becomes serotonin – a substance well-known for its ability to enhance mood and create a sense of calm.
Since it is plant-based, vegan protein powder is also rich in plant chemicals and antioxidants that help to prevent and repair damage to your cells cause by free-radicals and other environmental hazards.
The exact compounds found in your powder will vary based on what plant it is sourced from, however.