What is Plant Protein?
Plant proteins are derived from plant-based protein sources like peas, brown rice, legumes, hemp, soy, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
They are a healthy and ideal protein alternative to dairy-based protein powders like whey and casein.
Plant-based protein powders are popular among athletes and bodybuilders, but sedentary people and older adults have started using them for general well-being.
Plant Protein: Benefits & Uses
Plant proteins can play a vital role in muscle growth and recovery, along with numerous other health benefits.
- Promote muscle growth: Plant proteins contain all essential amino acids required for muscle protein synthesis and post-workout muscle recovery. If you are an active athlete and do not prefer whey, include plant protein as your post-workout protein.
- Boost metabolism: Plant protein powders help boost our metabolism and speed up the calorie-burning rate. Phytonutrients present in plant-based protein powders support fat-burning and lean muscle building.
- Support weight loss: Plant proteins are high in proteins but low in carbs and fats. They also contain dietary fiber and other essential nutrients that aid weight loss by providing fullness and preventing hunger cravings.
- Lactose-free: Plant-based protein powders are the right choice for those who are intolerant or allergic to lactose.
- Boost immunity: Along with proteins, plant protein powders provide various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They promote the healthy functioning of our immune system and other processes inside the body.
- Easy to digest: Plant-based proteins are light on our stomach and get digested rapidly in our body. People who experience frequent indigestion issues can opt for plant proteins with added digestive enzymes.
Plant Protein Types
One can find various types of plant-based protein powders in the market. They may contain a single plant protein source or a blend of multiple sources. Let’s see the benefits of popular plant-based protein powders.
- Pea Protein: Pea protein is extracted from yellow peas. It contains high-quality protein, rich in BCAAs and other nutrients like iron. Pea protein is effective for muscle building like any other dairy-based protein powder. It is suitable for heart health, provides fullness, and promotes weight loss.
- Soy Protein: Soy protein is extracted from soybean. It has all nine essential amino acids, no cholesterol, and is low in saturated fats. Soy proteins are also packed with dietary fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins.
- Quinoa Protein: Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and a complete protein source containing all nine essential amino acids. It is rich in dietary fiber, iron, potassium, folate, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin E. Quinoa protein powders contain two powerful antioxidants – quercetin and kaempferol, having numerous health benefits.
- Brown Rice Protein: Brown rice protein contains amino acids that strengthen our blood vessels and improve kidney and liver function. It is incredibly high in cysteine amino acid, which boosts lung health and overall athletic performance.
- Hemp Protein: Another plant protein source has all nine essential amino acids. Hemp contains good essential fats that provide a large amount of energy when metabolized. Therefore, hemp protein is good for our digestive and immune health. It fights inflammation and is excellent for restoring muscle tissue after an intense workout session.
How to choose the right plant protein for you?
Here are some of the key points to consider while buying a plant protein powder.
- Check the sources of protein in the ingredient list.
- Plant protein should have all nine essential amino acids because our bodies can not produce them.
- It should not have too high carbohydrate and fat content. You do not want to load the calories unnecessarily.
- The plant-based protein must be free from added sugar and harmful or banned substances.
- Opting for an all-plant protein powder with added digestive enzymes is better. Better nutrient absorption means better exercise performance.
How to use Plant Protein?
It is easy to include plant-based protein powders in your diet.
If you are a bodybuilder or fitness enthusiast, you can take it post-workout to boost muscle recovery. Else you can use plant proteins in healthy recipes like shakes, smoothies, ice creams, cookies, protein balls, pancakes, and protein bars.