Whatever your sport is, you undoubtedly know that protein is important – even if you're only vaguely aware exactly why. So, like all athletes, fitness enthusiasts and generally health-minded individuals, you do everything you can to make sure you're getting as much of the macro nutrient that you need.
For most people, this isn't really much of a problem. Meat, fish, dairy, as well as whey and casein powders are all rich sources of protein that can be used by your average omnivore. But what about the vegans out there? Meeting your protein requirement can be a little tricky once you take any and all animal products out of the equation.
Of course, plants do contain protein and a quality vegan protein powder can make things even easier for you. But how, exactly can vegan protein powders help you? Specifically, how can they benefit your workouts?
The Power of Protein
As mentioned, protein is vitally important for athletes, exercisers and pretty much everyone else. While we generally talk about “protein” as if it's one, singular substance, this is a bit of a misconception.
The truth is that there are myriad proteins that are made up of different combinations of amino acids. When you ingest these proteins, they are broken down into their individual amino acids and shipped all over your body. There, the amino acids can be used to make a huge variety of tissues, hormones and other materials needed for the healthy function of your body.
For this reason, amino acids are sometimes called “the building blocks of life.” Dietary protein, then, is key in keeping things running smoothly. When it comes to workouts, though, protein has some very specific benefits. Your muscles, for example, are made out of that protein that has been broken down and rebuilt. Each time you exercise, your muscles are damaged and need to be repaired.
Just like any other rebuilding work, however, the proper raw materials have to be present to get the job done. If protein isn't around, therefore, your muscles can't properly recover. For the vegan athlete, plant-based protein powder provides a fast, convenient way to get that necessary protein.
The ability to simply drink your protein can be especially helpful before your workouts, since a high-fiber meal – such as a plant of beans or vegan protein sources – can cause some serious digestive problems during your workout.
Don't Forget Your Micros
All too often, protein steal all the glory when it comes to... well, protein powders. And, sure, the primary reason that people decide to use these products is to make sure they're meeting their macros. But the truth is that many protein powders – whether they are plant- or animal-based – have plenty of other benefits that get forgotten about.
Just like the whole plant from which they're derived, vegan protein powders contain many micronutrients that can be highly beneficial to overall well-being. Vitamins, minerals and fiber as the headliners but each plant also contains unique phytochemicals that offer specific benefits.
Brown rice, for example, is a rich source of ferulic acid, which is being explored for a variety of health benefits ranging from anti-aging and cancer prevention to the treatment of type 2 diabetes.