Vegan protein – what should you pay attention to?
Vegan protein powders are becoming increasingly popular and are now just as widely available as protein powders made from animal proteins.
Rightly so, because protein is considered a critical nutrient, especially in vegan diets. It can therefore make sense to expand a plant-based diet with vegan protein powder. This is not only possible with a vegan protein shake, a vegan recipe can also be enriched tastefully and healthily with soy, hemp, rice or pea protein.
The options are numerous and there are now also substitute products such as vegan cheese or vegan sausage, which are made from pea protein, for example. Nevertheless, many people still find it difficult to meet their protein needs with a vegan diet. Why is that?
The five most common causes of amino acid deficiency when consuming vegan protein are:
- Low biological value of vegan proteins
- Lack of amino acid profile of plant protein sources
- Incorrectly calculated individual daily protein requirements, especially during physical activity
- No need to divide the daily amount of protein required into several meals
- Incorrect intake of essential amino acids per meal
The topic of proteins is fundamentally new to you or do you still have questions? Check out our detailed protein guide here . Here you can find out everything about the topics of biological value, amino acids and the effects and side effects of proteins.
You don't know your daily required amount of protein yet? In our blog post about protein shakes before or after training you will find intake recommendations from science and practice from nutritional advice.
In our article we go into detail and clarify things so that you too can get yours in the end Protein needs can be adequately and naturally covered in a vegan diet .
How much vegan protein do I need per day?
Let's go into detail:
Although many vegans adhere to the guidelines of the DGE (German Society for Nutrition) or other reliable sources regarding daily protein intake, this is usually not enough.
Vegetable proteins are easily digested by the body. Nevertheless, vegan protein sources have a different amino acid profile than animal proteins. This is more important than you think. Even though we are a big fan of vegan protein powders, the amino acid profile of the proteins determines their usefulness. Before you rely exclusively on a vegan diet, you should be familiar with the topic of biological value.
Our founder Jana had her own experience with an exclusively vegan diet. Find out more about her personal story and how she developed nutritional deficiencies here .
For vegans or anyone who gets a large portion of their daily protein requirements from vegan sources and also focuses on exercise, the following method is recommended for calculating the recommended quantity:
Five simple steps to determine your vegan protein needs
- Identify your specific daily protein recommendation
(Feel free to use our article to calculate your daily protein requirement)
- Determine your current weight in kg
- Calculate the protein recommendation per kg against your body weight
- Multiply the result from step 3 by a factor of 1.1 – 1.2 (i.e. add 10 – 20%)
- Now you know your daily requirements for high-quality vegan proteins
- amateur athlete,
- 40 years old,
Recommended daily requirement: 1.3-1.8 g per kg body weight per day
1.3*55 = 71.5 grams of protein per day from animal sources
(1.3*55) *1.2 = 85.8 grams of protein per day from vegan sources
If you follow the steps, your daily need for high-quality amino acids should be ensured. Building muscle, maintaining muscle and your general performance are no longer issues you need to worry about. However, if you ignore the additional protein in your vegan diet for a long time, serious consequences can arise.
“Unfortunately”, deficiency symptoms only appear after many months, sometimes only after years of undersupply. (Would you like to read my experience report on this? I tried a vegan diet for more than a year. Read more here ) This is why we are often in the mistaken belief that we are doing everything right. Because: “I’m feeling good at the moment!” The question that often remains unanswered. “How good could you really feel if you had optimized your diet with a few little tricks?”
Then after a while we wonder where the headaches, the tiredness or the general dissatisfaction throughout the day come from.
Our bodies are sometimes too good at functioning - or rather, adapting to less than optimal conditions.
Note: A reaction to poor nutrition comes with a delay and becomes apparent gradually.
Typical symptoms of a lack of protein supply due to a vegan diet:
- sporting performance collapses,
- muscle growth stagnates,
- visible muscle loss,
- the skin condition worsens,
- Hair and nails become brittle,
- wrinkle formation,
- hormonal problems,
- and much more ...
We say: Better prevention than rehabilitation!
Six things you should consider when consuming vegan protein.
The aim of this post is not to talk you out of a vegan diet. Quite the opposite. Nutritional education is important, especially because plant-based food can be wholesome. It is important to consider how you ensure healthy protein consumption. That's why we'll show you the most well-known pitfalls that many vegans are not aware of.
Choose high-quality plant-based protein sources and high-quality ones vegan protein powder
- Make sure to consume protein from different vegan protein sources . For example, beans, nuts, rice, peas and so on. An unbalanced diet can quickly lead to problems with veganism, as the amino acid profile of plant sources is slightly less beneficial for humans than animal sources. If you do not have access to a variety of plant-based protein sources, vegan protein powders based on “more components” are suitable for mixing different amino acid profiles . This increases the biological value . By combining multiple sources, your body has better raw materials available. For example, use mixtures of peas + hemp + pumpkin seed proteins or similar complex compositions.
Note: It's all in the mixture!
Remember that despite choosing high-quality vegan proteins, you should increase the amount of protein you consume daily by 10-20% to be on the safe side. This usually has no side effects for you as long as you have healthy kidneys.
Spread your protein-containing foods over 3-5 meals per day to ensure you are permanently supplied with good protein. If you need 160 g per day, try to consume 30 g of protein per meal in the morning, at lunch, in the evening and for a snack in between. Our bodies cannot store protein effectively. Especially if you exercise or want to maintain your muscles, you should eat a protein-rich meal every 3-4 hours.
- If you are physically active, every meal should contain at least 3 g of leucine + all other essential amino acids totaling 12 g so that your muscles are protected and can grow. With pea protein as an isolated source, this would mean consuming at least 36g of protein from peas per meal.
- If you eat a completely vegan diet, we recommend taking an additional 1-2 vegan protein shakes daily. Otherwise, ensuring the required amount of protein every day can become a planning and organizational challenge. Even though we generally recommend Food First , we are all people with a changeable and very individual everyday life. That's why vegan protein shakes are suitable for on the go, at work, on longer trips or specifically around sporting activities. This means you have a stress-free and healthy meal for every situation.
Our final word on vegan protein:
How do we rate vegan protein and vegan protein powders overall?
If you consume vegan protein carefully, it is a complete source of protein that sustainably supports your health and athletic performance.
If you follow our tried and tested tips over many years, you will stay healthy and productive for a long time.
If in doubt, you should always consult your doctor and/or hire a nutritionist. Both can give you a precise answer to your individual situation when it comes to vegan nutrition. Always keep in mind that symptoms of an incorrect diet may only become apparent after months or years.
Don't wait until the time comes, take the reins into your own hands.
Your Lykaia team 🍃