Whenever i post pictures using protein powder i immediately get messages asking if it is necessary to use protein powder as a vegan, so i thought i would answer it in a post once and for all.
No, using protein powder isn’t necessary. This applies to everyone, meat eaters and vegans.
So why do i use protein powder if it isn’t necessary? Because it is a cheap source of protein and a quick and easy snack to consume as post workout, but also because i personally love mixing it with my plain soy yoghurt. However the latest protein powder i bought wasn’t that great and mixing it with just water or oatdrink was almost impossible to consume, so instead i use it in my smoothie bowls or mix in with soy yoghurt so that it doesn’t go to waste.
So first off, if you eat varied and enough and try to eat beans/lentils/soy everyday as a vegan then you should be getting enough protein. And if you are training alot and trying to build muscle then you will already be aware of “protein” and 1) be eating more because you are exercising and 2) most likely eating more protein rich foods as you are aware of your food and protein intake, so protein powder isn’t necessary, but of course it doesn’t hurt to consume it unless you have kidney problems.
The recommended protein intake is c.a 0,8g per kg body weight. Example, if you weigh 60kg you need 48g protein which is equivalent to :
Having c.a 1/2 cup lentils, 1/2 chickpeas, 1 cup peas, 1 cup soy milk, 2 tbs peanut butter, 2 slices of bread , 1 cup oats. And then of course all the other food you may consume such as pasta, vegab margarine, vegan cheese, vegan yoghurt, different vegetables, other types of beans, soy meat etc all adds even more protein. (**protein amount may differ depending on type of milk, bread, oats etc. Nutritional facts from: here) You can see some sample menus to reach protein requirement HERE
So eating varied and enough calories will more than likely cover your protein requirement, unless you are eating just plain white pasta, rice and potatoes… then you might not be reaching the required amount, but 0,8g per kg body weight is just an average requirement and you can still survive with around 0,4-0,6g per kg body weight… but that is not recommended as protein is important in your diet and in your body.
Studies have shown that if you are strength training and trying to build muscle, then consuming around 1,1-1,2g protein per kg body weight does help/have it’s benefits, so it doesn’t hurt to consume protein powder even if it may not be necessary. (Source 1, Source 2) But like mentioned above, it is a cheap and quick source of protein and as a vegan it can be harder to reach a high intake of protein unless you are eating alot of beans, lentils, soy meat, tofu, soy drink etc The more you eat, the higher protein intake you have, so if you are only eating 1500kcal you won’t have as high protein intake as someone eating 2500kcal.
For example, i consume alot of beans, lentils, soy meat, tofu, soy yoghurt and when i have done my diet registrations for my university course i have consumed around 80-100g protein which is about 1,2-1,3g/kg body weight, so consuming protein powder really isn’t necessary for me and more than likely adds no extra protein benefit. (of course this varies from day to day and the actual amount may differ due to not all the products i eat being in the data system as well as i didn’t measure everything i ate. Also, things such as 100g cooked lentils is 27g protein but 100g lentils cooked may only give about 1/4 or 1/3 that amount.)
When it comes to vegan sources of protein, they are not always “complete sources of protein”, meaning that they don’t contain all 9 essential amino acids. However with protein combining that is no problem as well as a varied diet throughout the day and the week. But as much as vegans want to shout that broccoli and spinach and bananas are a great source of protein, that is not the case and comparing brocolli to steak isn’t an accurate comparison because they are completely different types of foods. (Read more HERE )Example raw broccoli has c.a 7-8g protein per 100kcal and steak around 11g protein per 100kcal, and to reach c.a 100kcal broccoli you need around 300g brocolli compared to only around 2-3ounces (?) of steak, and not to mention that broccolli doesnt have all the essential amino acids and would require you to eat ALOT of brocolli to actually get a decent amount of protein and enough amino acids for it to be complete. I am not dissing brocolli, it is a delicious food and has so many benefits but it wouldn’t be my first choice of food if i wanted protein.
So protein powder yes or no?
If you are working out hard, it doesn’t hurt to consume it, as long as it doesn’t take away from the other macronutrients i.e that you consume more than 20E% protein. (example, you consume 2000kcal a day then more than 100g protein may be unnecessary and take away from your carbohydrate and fat requirements).
First and foremost, eat varied, eat enough, try to eat some grains, legumes, soy protein each day and you most likely don’t need to worry about your protein intake.
Do you consume protein powder, yes or no? and why?
Also did you find this post beneficial, let me know if you want more nutritional posts such as these 🙂
Also if you want to read more, then THIS article is very informative.