“Where do you get your protein if you don’t eat meat?”
One of the most crucial nutrients to the human body, from the strength of your body to that of your hair, skin, and nails, protein’s amino acid chains perform vital tasks within your body. Protein is also essential for healthy brain function, and overall energy levels.
Tired of being asked where I get my protein if I don’t eat meat, I now will try and explain.
All protein is not created equal and what our body really craves are the essential amino acids that create protein in our body. The wonderful world of plant based foods produces the best source for these amino acids without all the negative impacts meat has on our body.
Amino Acids in a Plant-Based Diet
There are nine essential amino acids and all are a must have for a healthy diet.
Below are a list of the nine essential amino acids and some of the plant based foods that are good sources of each.
Some sources of amino acids, like chia and hemp seeds, also offer all 9 essential amino acids, making them a complete protein. For the sake of redundancy I will not list them on every amino acid.
Now without further Apu, onto the list.
Leucine is the best essential amino acids for stimulating muscle strength and growth, and also referred to as a BCAA (branched chain amino acid). By moderating insulin into the body during after exercise Leucine can even help prevent and treat depression by the way it acts on neurotransmitters in the brain.
Find Leucine in: sesame seeds, watercress, turnip greens, organic non GMO soy, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, seaweed, pumpkin, peas, whole grain rice, figs, avocados, raisins, dates, apples, blueberries, olives and bananas.
Isoleucine is another BCAA (branch chain amino acid) with a few different responsibilities. It specifically helps the body produce energy and hemoglobin (a red protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood).
Find Isoleucine in: rye, cashews, almonds, oats, lentils, beans, cabbage, spinach, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cranberries, quinoa, blueberries, apples, and kiwis.
Lysine is responsible for several important functions including converting fatty acids into fuel and helping the body absorb calcium for bone strength. It’s vital to get enough of this amino acid since deficiency can lead to nausea, depression, fatigue, muscle depletion and even osteoporosis.
Find Lysine in: varieties of beans, watercress, parsley, avocados, almonds, cashews, most raw nuts, lentils and chickpeas being two of the best.
Methionine is vital for cartilage and muscle growth. helps form cartilage in the body through the use of sulfur. People who don’t eat enough sulfur-containing foods to produce methionine may suffer arthritis, damaged tissue, and poor healing. Methionine also aids in the production of muscle growth by the formation of natural creatine, needed for optimal cellular energy.
Find Methionine in: Brazil nuts, whole oats, ocean vegetables, wheat, figs, whole grain rice, beans and legumes, red and yellow onions, raw cacao, and raisins.
Once ingested, Phenylalanine turns into tyrosine, which is an amino acid that’s needed to create proteins. Phenylalanine is essential for proper brain function and to develop thyroid hormones.
Find Mehionine in: squash, beans, avocado, almonds, spirulina and other sea-plants, pumpkin, peanuts, quinoa, figs, raisins, dark leafy greens, most berries, green-olives, and most raw seeds.
Threonine is a prime contributor to a healthy immune system, heart, liver, and central nervous system. Threonine helps maintain a balance of proteins within the body to assist in overall repair, energy cell development. It contributes to healthy bones, skin, hair, and nails. In also helps with fatty acid digestion to prevent liver failure.
Find Threonine In: Pumpkin, watercress and ocean-vegetables, dark-leafy greens, almonds, avocados, figs, raisins, quinoa, and wheat . Sprouted grains are also excellent sources of this amino acid as well.
Trytophan is vital to a healthy nervous system and brain health, along with sleep, muscle growth and repair.
Find Tryptophan in: oats, seaweed, spinach, watercress, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, parsley, beans, beats, asparagus, mushrooms, all lettuces, dark-leafy greens, beans, avocado, figs, winter squash, celery, peppers, carrots, chickpeas, onions, apples, oranges, bananas, quinoa, lentils, and peas.
Valine is a BCAA needed for optimal muscle growth and repair. It’s also responsible for endurance and the overall maintenance of good muscle health.
Find Valine in: beans, spinach, legumes, broccoli, sesame seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, whole grains, avocado, apples, sprouted grains and seeds, blueberries, cranberries, oranges, and apricots.
Histidine helps transport chemical messengers to the brain. It contributes to muscle health within each muscle cells and it even helps detoxify the body by producing red and white blood cells.
Find Histidine in: rice, wheat, rye, ocean plants, beans, legumes, cantaloupe, sprouted grains, buckwheat, red, white and purple potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli
So, whew, there… there is where the hell we plant based eaters get our protein. The next time someone ask you, “where do vegans get their protein?” feel free to send them this.