Protein is one of the 3 key macronutrients (macronutrients being the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that predominantly make up our food) and protein is also the primary component of our muscles.
When it comes to protein foods, it is key to ensure your diet contains an adequate amount, that these foods are also spread throughout the day, and that you include a wide variety of sources, in order to optimise the growth and function of your muscles; and this is even more important as an athlete or highly active individual. A common topic amongst plant-based eaters is if they can get enough protein in their diet, so the question here is, can athletes get enough protein from plant-based foods in order to perform at an elite level?
The answer is YES! However, it does take some care and a well-designed plan to ensure your protein needs are met to support optimal muscle growth and repair.
The Vegetarian (Or Vegan) Athlete
No matter what your reason is for following a more plant-based diet (perceived health benefits, religious, ethical, or environmental reasons), as an athlete, you do need to consider you have increased requirements as compared to the general population. Taking out animal products from your diet restricts options for a primary source of protein, therefore, you may have to become more thoughtful and creative about the foods in which you choose to help reach your protein requirements using predominantly plant-based sources.