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Plant proteins: how do you get enough
Plant proteins: how do you get enough?

Plant proteins: how do you get enough?

  • Reading time: 9 min.

Strength athletes have a higher protein requirement than non-athletes and endurance athletes. Many athletes obtain this protein from animal-based foods or from Whey Protein, but these high-protein products are not suitable for vegetarians or vegans, meaning you will have to look for plant-based protein sources. But how do you get enough plant-based protein? In this XXL Nutrition blog, we will you more about plant-based proteins and vegan alternatives to whey protein powder!

What are plant-based proteins?

With any active lifestyle, you will need more protein. You can calculate how much protein you need per day based on your weight and how active you are. You also need to take your diet into account when making these calculations. If you don't eat animal products, you will need to get all your protein from plant-based products, meaning you will need 20 to 30% more protein per day. Why this is necessary is something we'll look at later on in the blog.

First, let's take a quick look at what exactly plant-based proteins are. These are proteins that come from plant-based foods such as legumes, vegetables, oats, nuts and tofu. Like animal-based proteins, these proteins consist of amino acids, the main building blocks of protein. Your body uses these amino acids to regulate a variety of important physiological processes, as well as in the building and recovery of muscle mass after intense physical workouts.

Animal-based protein vs. plant-based proteins

Why do you need more protein per day as a vegan than if you eat animal products? This is mainly due to the difference in amino acid profile between these types of protein. Plant proteins contain fewer essential amino acids than animal proteins; plant-based proteins can also be more difficult to digest, meaning less of them are absorbed by your body.

Want to read more about the differences between these types of protein? Check out our extensive blog on animal protein versus plant protein here.

Getting enough plant-based protein

Are you worried that it might be difficult to get enough protein as a vegan? While plant-based proteins may contain fewer essential amino acids, a vegan diet can still provide you with plenty of protein. Here are some tips on how you can do this:

  • Eat about 20-30 % more protein than you would if you ate animal products.
  • Combine several plant-based protein sources in every meal. This will ensure you get all the important amino acids you need.
  • Choose vegan or vegetarian meat substitutes with the highest protein content (i.e. those with less fat and sugars).
  • Supplement your diet with vegan protein shakes or vegan protein bars if necessary.

To get you started, we'll take a look at the best plant-based protein sources below, followed by run-down of some plant-based alternatives to whey protein.

The best plant-based protein sources

Looking for good vegan protein sources to help you get enough protein? We have already listed the 11 best plant-based proteins in a previous blog. You can use this list to find plant-based protein sources that you can consume as part of a vegan lifestyle. In this blog however, we want to take a closer look at some of these products, such as soy protein, chickpea protein, hemp protein and high-protein vegetables.

Soy protein

Soy protein comes from soybeans, a legume that is rich in protein. Many vegetarians and vegans use soy as a source of protein and it contains very little saturated fat. Raw soybeans contain about 36 grams of protein, 30 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of fat (per 100 grams). Soy is not only high in protein, it is also rich in vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and dietary fibre.

Because soy contains all 9 essential amino acids, it is a very popular plant-based protein source and is very widely used in the production of vegan protein powders, usually in the form of soy protein isolate.

Chickpea protein

Protein can also be extracted from chickpeas. Among athletes who regularly use supplements, this may be better known as pea protein. Pea protein is widely used by vegans and vegetarians, as well as by people who are lactose intolerance. 100 grams of chickpeas contains about 5 grams of protein, therefore it makes more sense to isolate the protein from chickpeas to get pea protein isolate.

Pea protein contains relatively high levels of arginine and is absorbed by the body more slowly.

Hemp protein

Finally, let's take a look at hemp protein, which is commonly found in vegan dietary supplements. The hemp used in these products has no psychoactive effects, of course, but it does contain a lot of antioxidants, fibre and omega 3-6-9. Hemp contains about 52 grams of protein per 100 grams, making it a good alternative to whey protein powder.

The proteins in hemp are easily absorbed by our bodies and contain all essential amino acids, making it highly suitable for vegan (strength) athletes.

High-protein vegetables

We all know that vegetables are healthy. We don't usually tend to classify vegetables as high-protein foods, however, which is understandable, given that there are other animal and plant products that contain far more protein. Yet there are vegetables that are high in protein (and low in calories). Below we have listed a number of protein-rich vegetables that you can use as part of a healthy (vegan) diet.

  • Kale 4.3 grams protein per 100 grams
  • Brussel sprouts 3.8 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Broccoli 3.3 grams protein per 100 grams
  • Spinach 2.5 grams protein per 100 grams
  • Cauliflower 2 grams of protein per 100 grams

Plant-based Whey Protein Alternatives

Do you find it difficult to get enough plant-based protein from your diet? An easy way to supplement this is by drinking a protein shake or eating a protein bar to get more protein. If you are vegan, Whey Protein is not suitable as a protein supplement as it is made from a dairy product. Fortunately, however, there are plenty of plant-based whey protein alternatives available. At XXL Nutrition, you can find vegan protein sources to help you get enough plant-based protein, and we highly recommend our Green Protein range. Many proteins are derived from animal products, but for anyone looking for a 100% vegan protein shake should try Green Protein. This vegan whey protein powder uses proteins from peas, rice and hemp and also contains added konjac gum (glucomannan) fibre, which helps a Green Protein shake to keep you feeling satiated longer. Per 100 grams, Green Protein contains 77.7 grams of vegan protein (vanilla flavour).

Looking for a convenient plant-based snack that is high in protein? Then the Vegalicious Protein Bar or N'Joy Vegan Protein Bar is just what you're looking for. It can be difficult to get enough protein in a vegan diet, but with a Vegalicious Protein Bar this becomes a breeze. With a whopping 22.4% protein, this bar will help support the increased protein needs of any athletic lifestyle. The protein in this tasty vegan protein bar comes from pea isolate, which is a high-quality protein source.

The N'Joy Vegan Protein Bar is a delicious vegan protein bar. This vegan protein bar contains a combination of soy, pea and rice protein to give you an incredible 24% protein content! The N'Joy Vegan Protein Bar also contains a crispy topping, which makes it a serious competitor to better known (and less healthy) snack bars. Now available in super delicious Salted Caramel flavour.

Finally, we have to give an honourable mention to Vegan Fit Protein, a delicious vegan protein powder made with pea protein. Do you follow a vegan lifestyle and want to make sure your protein intake is on track? Then Vegan Fit Protein from XXL Nutrition is for you! As well as being plant-based, this protein shake is 100% natural and owes its high 78% protein content to the use of high-quality pea protein isolate.

Here's how to get enough plant-based protein

In this blog you have seen how you can get enough plant-based protein. Use our handy tips (along with vegan protein supplements) to provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Remember, as a vegan, you need to eat more protein and combine different types of plant-based protein to ensure you get all the essential amino acids your body needs. Combined with our vegan protein powder or vegan protein bars, you'll be able to meet your plant-based protein needs every single day!

Marvin Grouw
This blog is written by:
Marvin Grouw
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