Women have a much harder time building and maintaining muscle than men. And following a vegan diet doesn’t make it any easier. Most plant-based diets are poorly planned and can easily foster protein deficiencies.
Luckily, there’s a wealth of plant-based sources of vegan protein for women and our guide will share the best of them with you.
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How Much Protein Do Women Need on a Vegan Diet?
You may be male or female, vegan or non-vegan, but you still need enough protein to be well. This macronutrient performs an array of vital roles in the body, ranging from hormone production to immune response. Among them are the protein’s most well-known role – muscle repair and growth.
As the recommended daily allowance (RDA) suggests, an adult woman needs 0.8 grams of protein per 1 kg of weight. That’s a bare minimum formulated for an average adult who has a sedentary lifestyle. It doubles and even triples for women who are physically active or exercise strenuously.
Clearly, this isn’t a small amount of protein to consume. And it’s even harder to accomplish on a vegan diet since most plant-based foods have a very modest protein content. Luckily, some plant-based foods are packed with protein and can deliver enough vegan protein for women.
Let’s discover how to spot such plant-based foods.
What Makes for a Decent Vegan Protein Source?
Besides generous protein content, a decent vegan protein source must also have:
- Complete amino acid profile Very few plant-based proteins contain all nine essential amino acids. And if they do, they’re almost always low in at least some of them. Some plant-based proteins, however, come very close to being completed, and they’re the ones that work the best.
- High rate of digestibility In technical terms, gluten is a plant-based protein. But what good is it for the body if most people can’t digest it and many are sensitive to it? A decent vegan protein source must be easy for the body to absorb and put to good use.
These subtle criteria help determine whether a plant-based protein source is effective. Bearing them in mind, let’s explore the best vegan sources of protein out there.
Best Plant-Based Sources of Vegan Protein for Women
These plant-based foods are all supreme sources of vegan protein for women:
- Nuts There’s a solid reason why nuts enjoy the status of a superfood. They’re low in carbs, contain healthy fats, and can deliver up to 6 grams of protein in a small handful. Hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, and peanuts have the highest protein content.
- Seeds Similar to nuts, seeds are an amazingly rich source of vegan protein. Depending on the type, just an ounce of seeds can deliver up to 9 grams of high-quality protein. Some of the best types to consider are hemp, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, flax, and sesame seeds.
- Legumes Peas, lentils, and beans make for another potent source of plant-based protein. Eating only half a cup of either of them can help you get up to 8 grams of top-quality protein. Not to mention the wealth of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber that legumes are rich in.
- Grains Not every type of grain comes with gluten. Some types of grain, like oats and brown rice, are gluten-free and have a fair amount of protein. One cup of cooked oats or brown rice supplies around 6 grams of protein. This makes such grains a nice extra vegan protein source.
- SoySoy is a somewhat controversial source of plant-based protein. But it’s one of the most complete among them. To minimize the adverse effects of soy, it’s best to consume it from non-GMO sources and in a fermented form.
- Supplements Vegan protein supplements aren’t technically a food source. But they can be every bit as nutritious. High-quality vegan protein powders, amino acids, and protein bars can all serve as additional sources of vegan protein.
These protein-rich plant-based foods can support any vegan diet unless you restrain their potential.
How to Make Full Use of These Plant-Based Protein Sources
Without favorable conditions, even the most carefully planned protein intake won’t work.
For instance, the body needs a vast range of micronutrients to use protein properly. These micronutrients include vitamins A, D, C, and E, as well as B vitamins. They also include the key electrolytes sodium, potassium, and calcium. And minerals like magnesium and zinc.
In addition, the body needs an ample supply of probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes. These ensure that the digestive tract stays on top of its game and absorbs protein efficiently.
Finally, it’s best to blend various plant-based proteins. This helps balance their often-incomplete essential amino acid profiles. And this also makes the vegan diet a lot more pleasant to stick to.