Plant Protein is an alternative to protein sourced from dairy, and may be ideal for vegan and vegetarian diets. Protein from plants also comes with a host of benefits. Plant protein does not contain lactose, is allergen free, contains less fat and cholesterol. These proteins also synthesize slower in the digestive system, which may help curb food cravings, promote abdominal comfort, and support muscle growth and recovery between periods of physical activity.
What Is Plant Protein?
Plant protein is any source of protein that comes from a vegetable. Fundamentally, all proteins function the same once synthesized in the digestive system, but their differences come down to the source of the protein.
Common sources of plant protein include:
- Hemp Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Brown Rice
Supplements made from the above plants will differ in their protein content per gram and amino acid profile. If your plant protein supplement does not have a complete amino acid profile, you may need to supplement the missing amino acids in order for the body to properly utilize each protein molecule.
When protein combines with one or more amino acids, they form a three-dimensional structure that supports several functions inside the body, including biochemical reactions, the cell life cycle, transmission and signaling between cells. Proteins also assemble into complex structures such as connective tissue that forms tendons, muscles, and healthy-looking skin, hair and nails. In the next section we outline which amino acids, essential to protein synthesis, may not be found in plant protein supplements.
Why are Amino Acids Important?
There are 20 types of amino acids. The body produces 10 of these, but nine must come from a healthy diet; the remaining amino acid is conditional, which means it’s only used in certain situations such as illness. The amino acids that are not produced inside the body are known as essential amino acids.
Plant proteins are termed “incomplete proteins” because they lack 1 or more of these essential amino acids that are necessary for the synthesis of protein. If your diet does not provide enough amino acids, you will want a supplement that includes 1 or more of the following:
- methionine phenylalanine
Some of these amino acids are found in plants, but some aren’t.
If all of the essential amino acids are present in the body, the proteins will synthesize inside the digestive system. If they are not present, the protein may pass from the body without being metabolized by muscles, tendons, skin or other area of the body. The supplement’s label may indicate if any amino acids are added, but if they aren’t, an amino acid supplement or a more complete diet may be necessary to meet your essential amino acid requirements.
Pros and Cons of Protein from Dairy
Whey protein may also have some drawbacks depending on the enzyme in your gastrointestinal tract and tolerance to lactose. Gastrointestinal-related challenges, such as odors, changes to bowel regularity or consistency can result from taking a dairy-sourced protein supplement.
Plant Protein Supplements
Plant protein offers the same benefits of whey, soy or other sources of protein, but may be ideal depending on your personal health and fitness needs. If you haven’t tried plant protein products for yourself, now may be the time to see if it makes the difference to your health and fitness goals!
Warrior Blend Plant-Based Protein in Chocolate from Sunwarrior is a dietary and plant protein supplement made from pea, hemp and goji berry. This plant protein powder also contains a complete amino acid profile for optimal digestion and protein synthesis.
All-In-One Nutritional Shake in French Vanilla from Vega One is a plant protein and multi-vitamin supplement that seeks to promote muscle development and recovery, support a healthy immune system, and promote gut flora function. This supplement also contains a green vegetable blend that offers the equivalent of 3 servings of vegetables per scoop.
Raw Protein Beyond Organic Protein Formula in Vanilla Chai from Garden of Life is a plant-based, dairy-free protein powder with essential vitamins and minerals, protein from pea, brown rice, buckwheat and more. This supplement supports a healthy digestive system, vitamins, amino acids, and CoQ10 for a healthy immune system and cellular function.
Are you a fan of plant protein or whey? Tell us why in the comments below!