The Power of Plants
The demand for plant-based, vegan protein powder has spiked over the past few years and health conscious brands are always coming up with new and innovative ways to boost your protein intake using plants.
Fortunately, the days of chalky, bland tasting protein powders are behind us! We now have hundreds of different powdered proteins to choose from, and they go far beyond dairy-based options like casein and whey.
Plant based proteins offer some benefits over their animal based counterparts; they are low in saturated fat, free of the growth hormones and antibiotics found in animal proteins, and tend to be more alkaline-forming.
You may have heard that most plant-based proteins are ‘incomplete proteins,’ with a few notable exceptions including hemp, soy and quinoa. What this means is that on their own, some proteins do not contain each of the nine essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. You do not need to eat each of these amino acids at every meal, but getting a balance of them over the whole day is important.
Let’s take some time to delve into this topic and better understand our nutritional needs and how the power of plants can help us to fulfil them.
Top Four Sources of Plant Derived Protein
As one of the most popular, well-known plant proteins, yellow pea is the foundations of protein powders like Vega and VegEssentials. Thanks to its array of amino acids, mild flavour and light texture it is often a top pick for plant-based powders. Pea protein has also been shown to lower blood pressure and increase muscle growth just as efficiently as whey protein.
Where you find yellow pea protein, you will often find brown rice. Brown rice is a great source of the amino acids, cysteine and methionine, something that yellow pea lacks. When combined, the two protein sources are able to balance each other and take on a similar nutritional profile to whey or egg white, but without the allergy concern.
These little seeds (also referred to as hearts) are a source of complete protein, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids. These essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and must be obtained from food, making hemp seeds a great choice. They are easily thrown into smoothies or baking all on their own, but you can also purchase a powdered version. Hemp seeds also contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 and fiber.
Like hemp seeds, chia can also be added on their own to smoothies and baking. Thanks to their ability to absorb water, they curb appetite and keep us feeling full. They are also a great source of fiber and a part of the protein blend in VegEssentials and Raw Fit.
Blended is Best
You no longer need to devour bowls of beans and rice to maintain a balanced intake of essential amino acids. Most plant-based powders like Raw Fit and Sun Warrior are a blend of various grains, legumes, algaes and/or seeds in order to achieve this completeness. Powders with various protein sources will also have a higher bioavailability (your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients), a better nutritional profile, and a higher overall protein content.
It’s important to keep in mind that it’s nearly impossible to know the exact ratio of amino acids in every single meal that we consume. When it comes to plant-based protein powders, this is why blended is often best. Incorporating a protein supplement with a blend of ingredients will provide an array of amino acids and other nutrients.
So, go ahead, harness the power of plants today!