There exist endless misinformation about protein, which can have serious negative effects on your health, performance, and well-being. To help you navigate through all the false information we have debunked 5 protein myths.
Myth #1: Protein only comes from animals
The idea that protein only comes from animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs is false. Protein is found in almost all foods so there are plenty of protein sources you can choose from that don’t involve any animals. But which plants have the highest amounts of protein?
High-protein plant-based foods involve leguminous plants such as soy, lentils, and beans. Some plants that have the highest amounts of protein include edamame, red kidney, pinto, and mung beans. Tofu and seitan are great substitutes for animal protein as well.
Whole grains are a beneficial way to add calories and proteins to your diet that includes whole-wheat pasta, whole grain breads, brown and wild rice.
Lastly, nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds contain small amounts of protein and are filled with healthy nutrients as well.
Myth #2: You can’t get enough protein on a plant based diet
Most certainly, all vegans or vegetarians have heard this one before, however, it’s definitely not true.
This myth may have occurred as protein is made up of around 20 amino acids, whereas nine of them are classified as essential, and found in animal sources. Based on this, it could be assumed that animal protein provides higher amounts of protein than plant-based proteins, however, as established earlier, nearly all foods contain protein.
What’s important is eating plant based foods that are high in protein and sticking to a balanced whole-foods plant based diet that includes all the essential and non-essential amino acids.
Myth #3: Animal protein is better than plant protein
This myth is probably the most dangerous to your health of them all.
Animal protein is connected to the world’s most prominent illnesses and diseases including heart disease, certain forms of cancer, type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, strokes, and kidney failure.
Animal proteins also contain high amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol, antibiotics and hormones. Processed meats are extremely poor foods for the digestive system.
Another interesting fact is that 65-70% of the world’s population are lactose intolerant, which makes plant based protein a better choice, as it is better for the digestive system.
Fortunately, a whole-foods plant based diet can prevent some illnesses and diseases, and even reverse some diseases such as type-2 diabetes. There are multiple benefits regarding plant proteins as they contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, lower amounts of saturated fat and no dietary cholesterol compared to animal proteins.
Myth #4: Humans have to eat meat to survive
You’ve probably been told that humans have to eat meat as we’re natural omnivores. But taking into consideration the chronic diseases and other negative effects human bodies experience caused by eating animal protein, it’s obvious that we are more related to herbivores.
If we look at the gorilla – a herbivore, which shares over 98% DNA with humans, it’s clear to see that it’s possible to thrive from just plants. The gorilla is among the largest and strongest land animals including the elephant, rhinoceros and hippopotamus, which are also herbivorous.
Another fact is that omnivores and carnivores have short intestines in order to digest flesh, whereas, humans have very long intestines like herbivores, and therefore more capable of digesting and breaking down plant based foods.
And what about the places in the world, where people live the longest and are the healthiest - The Blue Zones? Studies show that in Okinawa, Sardinia and Nicoya one of the most prominent factors to a long and healthy life is eating primarily plant based.
Furthermore, it’s stated by the American Dietetic Association, that a well-planned plant based diet is appropriate for individuals during all stages of life, including infancy, childhood, and pregnancy.
Myth #5: You can’t perform well on plant protein
Over the last couple of years, there’s been a significant increase in professional athletes and fitness enthusiasts who’ve been sharing their positive experiences from using plant protein. Today, there are plenty of plant based athletes all around the world, who are performing better than they did before, including Tom Brady, Lewis Hamilton, and many more in various sports professions.
Professional plant based athletes and fitness enthusiasts prove that plant protein is beneficial for performance. But also studies show that plant based proteins are much better for a fast recovery and increase in energy levels compared to animal-based proteins
So what have we learned from this?
The most important takeaway is that you can acquire enough protein and all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs to be healthy and perform your best on a balanced whole-foods plant based diet!
Proteins and calories are essential in order to gain muscle and recover. The more active you are, naturally, you will need to eat more calories and protein.
No matter what your goal is the focus should be on getting enough calories and proteins throughout the entire day.
Protein shakes are a convenient and easy way to make sure that your body gets enough protein. Add your favorite plant based protein before and/or after your workout, and supplement with some fruits and veggies and your body will thank you later!
To learn more about the benefits of a plant based diet and plant protein - check out the other blogposts on our website.