Protein is essential for building, repairing and maintaining muscle mass. Proteins are composed of building blocks known as amino acids. These same amino acids are also the building blocks of muscle tissue.
When you work out to increase muscle mass, for example, you actually cause tiny tears in the muscle tissue. Repairing these tears is what causes muscle growth. Without enough amino acids, the repair process is compromised and muscle growth slows.
While we all know that meat provides an excellent source of protein, there are plenty of other protein rich foods. This means that everyone, regardless of whether or not they eat meat, can build muscle! In fact, some of the most elite athletes in the world, like ultra-athlete Rich Roll, are vegan.
Complete Versus Incomplete Proteins
The difference between animal sources of protein and vegetarian sources is primarily that animal protein is a ‘complete’ protein. There are twenty different amino acids, and the human body cannot produce nine of them. A complete protein has all nine of the amino acids that we cannot make on our own in about equal proportions.
An incomplete protein, on the other hand, may have many different types of amino acids, but not enough of the nine that the human body cannot make. Many non-animal proteins are incomplete. The good news is that there are some complete vegetarian proteins, and that our body knows how to break down amino acids from one food and mix them with those from another. This means that if you eat enough of different incomplete proteins, you will achieve the same nutritional results.
Complete Vegetarian Proteins
While it is not essential to eat complete proteins, some people still like to include them in their meals. These two are plant-based complete protein superstars.
One cup of cooked quinoa contains nine grams of complete protein. This healthy grain-like seed also packs a greater nutritional punch with fiber, iron, magnesium and manganese. It comes in red and white varieties and is very versatile. You can make it the main focus of your meal, or sprinkle it on salads and soups to increase protein and fiber intake.
Tempeh is one of the largest protein sources for non-meat eaters. It’s plant protein made from fermented soybeans, and a common component of many Asian dishes. If you are looking to increase your protein intake it is certainly worth trying. One half package of tempeh offers twenty grams of complete protein. It’s best marinated and added to stir-fries or on salads.
Incomplete Proteins To Mix And Match
Complete proteins are great, but with a varied diet, you can achieve the same results. Mix and match these incomplete proteins to get all nine essential amino acids.
Legumes like beans, lentils, chickpeas, and even peanuts are very high in protein. Depending on the variety, you will get between fourteen and eighteen grams of protein per serving. Legumes are also high in fiber and minerals like iron and zinc. While not a complete protein, you can mix beans with rice to create a meal that has all nine essential amino acids!
Spirulina is a super-nutritious type of algae that can be added to salads, smoothies, or juices. It adds about four grams of protein per serving to your meal, and also comes with a host of other health benefits. Spirulina is high in Vitamin C, iron, B vitamins and nucleic acids. It can also help with heavy metal detoxification.
4. Chia seeds
Chia seeds also provide about four grams of protein per serving. They are extremely high in fiber, which helps to keep you feeling sated, and they are the highest plant source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory and boost brain and cardiovascular health.
One half cup of raw almonds contains eight grams of protein. They make an excellent snack to have on hand as their fiber and protein content will help to keep you feeling satisfied!
Beans, nuts and seeds are not the only vegetarian sources of protein. Even broccoli has enough amino acids to provide protein – about six grams per cup.
By eating a varied diet and mixing both incomplete and complete protein sources, you will be able to consume enough protein to build and maintain a well-muscled physique!
Author: Fitbodysupplements is a team of nutrition and sports enthusiasts and educators who guide people how to train in the most efficient manner and help them achieve their best possible physique using proper nutrition, exercise, and healthy supplements. For the best woman fat burner drinks to make at home and other incredible supplements, Fitbody is your one stop. You can find out more about them at fitbodysupplements.com.