A big thing in the world of sport is protein and there are many protein products available on the market today. The function of protein is summarised below:
- Protein is essential for growth and repair of the body and maintenance of good health.
- Protein also provides energy; 1 gram provides 17 kJ (4 kcal).
- The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) is set at 0.75g of protein per kilogram bodyweight per day for adults.
- The amount of protein we need changes during a lifetime.
- Different foods contain different amounts and different combinations of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). Protein from animal sources (e.g. meat, fish, eggs and dairy products) contains the full range of essential amino acids needed by the body. However, vegans and vegetarians can get all the amino acids they need by combining different plant sources of protein, e.g. pulses and cereals.
Importance of protein
Proteins are fundamental structural and functional elements within every cell of the body and are involved in a wide range of metabolic interactions. All cells and tissues contain protein, therefore protein is essential for growth and repair and the maintenance of good health. Protein provides the body with approximately 10 to 15% of its dietary energy and it is the second most abundant compound in the body, following water. A large proportion of this will be muscle (43% on average) with significant proportions being present in skin (15%) and blood (16%).
While it is possible for vegans and vegetarians to consume sufficient protein in their diet, it’s not particularly easy for me to consume sufficient protein. Why? I’m not sure really, but it’s certainly something I have to monitor. From the above information my protein requirement is only around 45g per day, however, many other sources calculate my protein requirement, as an athlete(!), is more than double this.
This table shows vegan sources of protein per 100g of each food:
To reach my minimum protein goal of 45g I would need to consume, for example, 100g of red lentils, chickpeas, tofu and almonds each day. To achieve more than double this amount feels impossible, which is where protein shakes and bars prove useful.
I have recently finished the first two bags of protein powder that I purchased from myprotein.com
This product simply to provided additional protein and no other nutritional benefits apart from what it was blended with, which for me was soya milk and banana.
The new products that I’m trying, from vegansupplementstore.co.uk are marketed as complete meal replacement shakes. I purchased the weight loss bundle which contained one 500g of each flavour (chocolate, vanilla, raspberry and chocolate salted caramel). It calculates as around £1.40 per shake with my Vegan Society membership discount and each shake provides a good amount of protein along with carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
I’ve started with the raspberry shake which I blend with soya milk and a banana (it’s just how I like it!) and this gives me 27g protein – over half of my minimum requirement – also 50g carbs and 361 kcal, tastes great and hopefully will help me reach my weight loss and fitness goals, and prevent/repair injuries.