Protein is essential to repair and build muscle, making it a popular ingredient for energy bars and smoothies for recovery after an intense workout. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and recent studies, the plant-based protein appears to help build muscle equally to animal protein.
Plant-based foods have received great attention in the past decade for athletes. There are recommended plant-based sources that provide a complete protein to encourage muscle growth, restore energy, and lose weight. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial, researchers wanted to compare the impact of pea protein and whey protein on muscle thickness and strength after a 12-week resistance training program for 161 males aged 18-35. As a result, appropriate training with supplementation with pea protein promoted a greater increase of muscle thickness as compared to placebo.
In another study, 59 volunteers with various physical activities were divided into two groups, casein diet and soy diet group. As a result, soy protein significantly increased skeletal muscle and quadriceps volume in volunteers with low physical activity compared to 30-day casein protein supplementation.
Plant-based proteins are rich in fiber, being an attractive addition for weight management and dietary preventive strategies due to their positive satiety enhancement effects. In research, fiber has been shown to suppress ghrelin, the “hunger hormone” that signals the brain to eat, leading to low caloric intake to encourage weight loss and muscle building during exercise.
Hempseeds: contains 12 grams of protein and is an excellent source of iron, fiber, magnesium, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid.
Quinoa: is a complete protein that offers up to 9 grams of protein. The minerals and antioxidants in quinoa serve as a valuable post-workout treat to help build, repair and protect muscles.
Soy: high in branched-chain amino acids to encourage muscle growth and strength, soy protein is a complete protein that can offer up to 22 grams of protein.
Pea: contains over 28 grams of protein and rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to help fuel muscles and encourage the body to make muscle protein.
Brown Rice: provides 22 grams of protein and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to support muscle growth.
In the United States, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) recommends the daily protein intake to be 0.8 grams for every kilogram of body weight. The easiest way to calculate your weight in kilograms is to divide your weight in pounds by 2.2, with a handy calculator provided here. Roughly, this amount equates to 10-15% total calories.