Every bodybuilder knows that a high protein diet is important for building muscle mass. This is because, during a heavy weights session or high-stress workouts, the body breaks down protein for energy. In order to build muscles, the body needs the protein intake and synthesis to be higher than the protein breakdown; this is known as the protein balance.
However, most people see protein as something gained mainly from animal sources, such as meat and eggs. This leaves men wondering if they can build the same muscle mass with a plant-based diet. With all the talk of the environmental impacts of meat and how, especially, red meat should be limited in a person’s diet, it leaves us questioning where we can gain protein from plant-based sources.
Spirulina is a naturally occurring alga and is 65% protein as well as being a phenomenal source of iron and omega 3. Where beef is often seen as the best source of protein, spirulina has three times the amount of protein that beef does. Equally, when beef is cooked, many of these proteins are broken down and therefore cannot be absorbed by the body. Spirulina, on the other hand, is either taken raw in a smoothie or as a powdered supplement, holding all the original protein value.
Black beans are actually comparable to beef in protein levels. Where 3 ounces of beef has 22 grams of protein, 1.5 cups of black beans have the same protein value. Black beans are also high in potassium, essential for proper muscle functioning, and combined with the high levels of calcium and magnesium, help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Hemp seeds have around 10 grams of protein for every 3 tablespoons. This makes them any easy additional source of protein, sprinkled on muesli, added to a smoothie, or mixed into a salad. They are also high in omega-3 which is integral to a healthy heart.
An excellent little snack, addition to any curry, or smashed into a paste to spread on toast, peanuts have around 25 grams of protein per 100 grams. This makes them a quarter protein! Peanuts are also high in resveratrol, an antioxidant which has been proven to be useful in protecting against cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and heart disease.
Garbanzo beans or chickpeas have around 15 grams of protein per cup. Again, because garbanzo beans are soaked and most often used uncooked, the proteins remain within them, without being changed or broken down. Also an excellent source of dietary fiber, garbanzo beans help to control blood sugar levels, reducing fatigue and irritability and promoting a healthy digestive system.
This list is by no means exhaustive; check out brazil and cashew nuts, split beans and lentils, quinoa and wild rice as other plant-based sources that are high in protein. However, those looking to decrease their meat intake, support their intake of supplements such as NitroGenix365 with a vitamin boost, or simply thinking of taking on the vegan challenge can still build muscle mass effectively on a plant-based diet. Be aware that one must increase calorie intake as well as protein intake to build muscle mass effectively.