Protein consumption is a major issue for athletes who want to develop muscle mass. Although meat and dairy products have long been considered the main sources, plant proteins are attracting increasing interest.
If you're particularly sensitive to the impact of your diet on your health, go for it Organic plant proteins It has many advantages: rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, low saturated fat content, etc.
But among legumes, grains, oilseeds and other sources, it's not always easy to find your way. In this article we will remind you why and how much protein you should consume, then I will review plant proteins in the interest of reconciling sports and well-being goals.
Proteins are athletes' allies
Protein plays a crucial role in building and maintaining muscle mass. When you exercise, your muscles experience small damages that need to be repaired. Your body then draws on its reserves of amino acids, the “bricks” that make up proteins, to rebuild damaged tissue.
Eating enough protein after exercise helps stimulate protein synthesis and speed up the recovery process. This also promotes long-term muscle growth.
For adults who do not exercise, the recommended daily intake is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. But for athletes, it is recommended to consume between 1.6 and 2 g/kg/day.
The best sources
Not all plant proteins have the same nutritional value. Here are my favorite alternatives:
Legumes are protein allies par excellence
Legumes such as lentils, dried beans, chickpeas and even fava beans are full of excellent quality proteins. With 20 to 25% protein, they have nothing to envy over meat and fish!
In addition, their high fiber and low fat content make them interesting allies in the slimming process. Which is satisfying, as it stabilizes blood sugar levels and reduces cravings. Its fiber nourishes the intestinal microbes, which are essential for good health.
Finally, lentils, beans and other legumes are excellent sources of iron, magnesium and potassium. Lots of important minerals for athletes.
You will understand that cooking legumes 2 to 3 times a week is essential. Choose varied recipes by playing with spices and aromatic herbs so you don't get bored.
Oilseeds, for good proteins and fats
Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds… oilseeds have it all. It contains about 20% protein, in addition to unsaturated fats that are beneficial for cardiovascular health.
Thanks to its richness in magnesium and potassium, it effectively fights muscle fatigue. Antioxidants (Vitamin E) help you recover faster after exercise.
Add a handful of nuts or seeds to yogurt, salads and dishes. Diversify oilseeds to take advantage of the benefits of each.
Almonds, for example, are excellent for muscles and bones, while Brazil nuts boost the immune system.
Whole grains, to combine with legumes
Only grains such as rice, quinoa and bulgur are poor in some essential amino acids. But when combined with legumes, they become great sources of plant-based protein.
Choose whole grains that are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Whole grain rice, whole grain bread, semi-whole pasta… Diversify the sources.
Quinoa is distinguished by its exceptional content of lysine, an amino acid rarely found in plant foods.
Soy, a safe bet for vegetarians
In the form of tofu, tempeh, edamame or a vegetable drink, soy is a reference for vegetarians. It contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete plant protein.
Rich in fibre, B vitamins, iron, magnesium and phytoestrogens, it takes care of your health. However, be careful not to overdo it if you are prone to hot flashes, as phytoestrogen can exacerbate this phenomenon.
Hemp is an excellent source of plant-based protein. Its seeds contain about 25% of proteins that are easily absorbed by the body. Hemp protein is rich in essential amino acids, particularly arginine and lysine, which promote muscle growth and recovery.
Unlike the majority of plant proteins, the proteins found in hemp contain all the essential amino acids. Therefore, it has a high biological value compared to animal proteins. Hemp protein is also rich in fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Hemp protein is found in powder form, which is ideal for bodybuilding. When added to smoothies or yogurt, it makes it easy to increase your daily protein intake. Hemp can also be consumed naturally via its seeds or oil.
Plant protein powders
When engaging in intense physical activity such as bodybuilding, it may be interesting to consume plant-based protein powders. These provide you with a practical and easy-to-incorporate supplement into your diet. Many brands now offer this type of nutritional supplement, based on rice, pea, hemp or pumpkin proteins. Here are some criteria to choose carefully:
- High protein content (at least 80%);
- No sweeteners added;
- Short list of ingredients.
- Nice texture depending on your preference.
You can take these powders before or after training, or even with breakfast to start your day right. Just be careful not to overdo it and maintain a balanced diet.
The last word
Plant proteins certainly have a lot of advantages. Rich in essential nutrients, they care about our health and our planet. By intelligently incorporating them into our diet, we can perform on a daily basis while delighting our taste buds.
So feel free to mix sources, create new recipes and enjoy tasting these 100% plant-based treasures. Your body will thank you for all these delicious nutrients!
Plant proteins for athletes: which ones do you prefer?