By Lauren Baker
When you’re doing your weekly food shop, you’ve probably noticed all the “high-protein” labels on the shelves. Snacks, veggie alternatives and plant-based milks all have it plastered across their packets in big letters. But why is it so important to include enough protein in your diet?
Let’s begin by going back to the basics. Protein is essential for every metabolic process in our body. Every cell contains protein, but it also plays a part in maintaining your mood, immune system and keeping you full for longer.
For people with an active lifestyle, it also repairs muscles after a workout. When you exercise, the muscles are put under stress which damages the tissue. You need protein to heal this and reduce recovery time.
Adults are advised to eat 0.75g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day, based on the UK government Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI). But, this changes if your aiming to build or maintain muscle mass. Try to eat between 1.4-2g per kilogram of bodyweight instead - the lower end for endurance athletes and around 2g for someone trying to lose weight while maintaining lean muscle.
It can seem slightly overwhelming when you look at the numbers, but if you’re eating a balanced diet, you shouldn’t have to worry! It’s a complete myth that eating a plant-based diet can’t provide you with enough protein, but you do need to pay more attention to the food you consume.
The key to getting the right amount of plant-based protein is to combine different grains with vegetables and pulses such as beans and rice, or tofu with broccoli and quinoa. And the best news? Nut butter is packed FULL of sustainable protein and tastes amazing too.
This recipe for chocolate cherry oats is packed full of protein and uses Mindful Bites Brazil & Cacao Nibs Nut Butter for an indulgent start to the morning. In just six brazil nuts, you get 4g of protein – an easy win! There’s nothing better than a warm bowl of porridge, and the protein and complex carbs mean you have a slow release of energy and keep you full for longer.
So, next time you’re shopping, be mindful about the plant-based protein sources you pick up. They don’t need to have huge labels across the front, protein can be found is so many things! Getting a range of beans, pulses, wholegrains and vegetables will ensure a balanced diet, and there’s nothing better than spreading a huge dollop of nut butter over fresh toast (just call it fitness gains next time someone asks…).