The Best Plant Protein to Add to Your Diet
Protein plays an important role in the structure, function and maintenance of the body’s tissues and organs. Protein itself is made up of amino acids, smaller building blocks that support the immune system and produce collagen and keratin which contribute to stronger hair, skin and nails. Amino acids can be classed into three groups: essential (which are not made in the body) non-essential and conditional, and the body needs a balance of all of them in order to maintain good health and proper functioning. Protein also helps fight infection, balance body fluids and carry oxygen through your body. In addition it supports post workout recovery, so ensuring your get an adequate amount (an optimum of between 1.2 and 1.15g per kg of body weight) is doubly essential if you’re putting the hours into a regular exercise regime too. While research shows that animal protein is generally the preferred option as it provides a broader range of amino acids than plant-based proteins, if you’re following a plant-based or vegetarian diet or are looking to cut back on your meat consumption, you need to know where else you can get your protein fix. If you are only looking at plant-based sources of protein then it’s important to think smart, perhaps combining a number of plant protein sources to get the same as in one animal serving or getting your daily fix by incorporating high-quality protein to meals and snacks throughout the day. if you're working out or need to up your protein intake quickly, powder options are convenient and there’s no cooking required. Workshop’s Organic Vanilla Pea Protein Formula is a dairy-free, vegan and easily digestible source of protein.
One of the few plant sources to contain all nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t naturally produce, around 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 10g of protein. Sprinkle onto salads, soups, yoghurt or into your daily smoothie.
Another complete protein made up of all nine essential amino acids. Although often referred to as a wholegrain, it’s actually a seed that’s high in protein (one cooked cup offers 8g of protein) as well as gut-friendly fibre – which many of us are deficient in too.
Made from gluten so not suitable for anyone with an allergy or gluten sensitivity, seitan ranks as one of the best sources of plant protein available thanks to its quota of 25g per 100g serving. As well as being a good choice for your protein intake, it’s also high in selenium which protects the body against free radical damage, as well as iron and calcium.
Comprising tofu, tempeh and edamame which all originate from soybeans, this family of protein contain all nine essential amino acids and between 10-19 grams of protein per 100g serving. Edamame is also high in folate, vitamin K and fibre, while tempeh contains natural-occurring probiotics which are good for maintaining proper gut health.
Pulses such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are an easy way to add more protein (and fibre) to your diet, containing between 15-18g of protein per cooked cup (240ml). They’re also high in vitamins, minerals and fibre, plus they have a low glycemic index, which helps you feel fuller for longer. Whether you’re using canned or dry varieties always rinse well first to remove any hard-to-digest substances and if you are using canned always choose those with no added salt or sugar.