Plant Based Protein Benefits
September 30, 2015
Let’s just get this out there: Plant based protein powders do not have a great reputation. And it’s not because they are seen as somehow harmful or inherently bad, people just tend to think that just because a protein isn’t derived from animals in some way, they are of lower quality. In reality, though, this is simply not true. Plant based protein powders actually offer a number of benefits – some of which are unique to this group, others are shared with more traditional animal proteins.
They’re plant based – Okay, this one is pretty obvious but it still needs to be said. Protein powders taken from plant-sources are valuable because they provide vegans and vegetarians with a rich, convenient source of nutrients. Whatever reason you have for avoiding animal products, you know it can be difficult to meet your protein needs – especially if you’re an athlete. Vegan protein powders fill that need.
Fewer allergens – Depending on what plant they are sourced from, most vegan protein powders have a very low chance of causing any kind of allergic reaction. One notable exception is soy, which has been known to trigger reactions in some people. For this reason, even non-vegetarians or vegans might opt for plant based proteins, as well. For example, you might be lactose intolerant or otherwise allergic to milk, making whey and casein a challenge.
More micronutrients – When it comes to protein powders, people tend to focus their attention solely on the titular macronutrient and ignore all the other good stuff in there. In the case of plant proteins, various sources are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and countless other beneficial phytochemicals produced by that particular plant.
Quality Proteins – It’s also important that we dispel the rumor that plant proteins are inferior to animal. As you may know, proteins are composed of amino acids, small structures that have a huge impact on everything your body does. And, while your body is capable of making the majority of these amino acids, there are nine that need to be taken from food. (It should be noted that experts are slightly divided on this number but, “nine” is the most commonly accepted count.) These nine are referred to as “essential” amino acids. A proteins quality is judged by how many of these essential amino acids it delivers. When a protein contains all nine, it is called a “complete protein.” So, while the other amino acids are important, they do not have a bearing on the quality of the protein. Many plant derived protein powders are complete proteins. If any one powder is low in some amino acids, though, these can easily be gotten from other food sources. Many enterprising and creative vegan athletes have gotten very good at mixing various plant protein powders, too, in order to create a more balanced amino acid profile.
Options – In reality, you don’t have a lot of options when it comes to animal based protein powders. Whey and casein rule, with lessen known options like egg getting very little attention. With plant proteins, though, there is a huge number of options – all of which have different strengths, weaknesses and flavors, making it easy for you to find exactly what you need.