Vegan Protein Sources and Supplementation
Protein sources and food in general for trainees who eat only vegetable sources are somewhat limited. There are many things that one should think about when organizing nutrition for vegetarians, especially physically active vegetarians. 'Problematic' macro and micronutrients are (but not limited to): protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin E, omega-3, and healthy fats in general.
Published: February 8, 2016.
Omega-3 pills are mostly derived from fish. If you are not eating fish then you are also going to avoid such pills. But today on the market, there are also omega-3 pills made from flax seeds or similar plants – buy these, because they are also loaded with other healthy fats.
Vitamin A, D, and E supplements are mostly made from fish fat or liver, so if you are not eating fish, you are not going to buy any of them.
Good thing is that multivitamin and multimineral pills are based on artificial vitamins and mineral compounds, so get yourself a good multivitamin and multimineral supplement. It is recommendable to change supplements companies from time to time. Please read labels, since some of them have allergy warnings regarding shellfish – if they contain such warnings or ingredients, and you are vegetarian, perhaps you'll want to avoid such products.
Also, vitamin A and other vitamins and minerals are found in vegetable food in abundance.
Joint support supplements are often based on shellfish and shark cartilage. For healthier joints be sure to consume enough omega-3 and healthy fats, minerals (zinc, manganese, etc), and foods rich in sulfur (garlic from time to time and similar foods). This is also recommended for those that do consume joint supplements.
Protein – that can be a problem.
First of all, try to eat vegetable sources rich in protein. This way you will consume plenty of other necessary nutrients (complex and simple carbs, fibers, some fats, vitamins, and minerals) and most of, if not all, needed protein.
Since the body can store carbohydrates and fats and since they are available in almost every meal – no worries here. The body can store protein in the form of amino acids, but this store is for several hours – when nitrogen levels fall down in the bloodstream, the only source of nitrogen are muscles - this is simplified of course, since there are many other things to consider, but to keep things simple, remember that you don't have to eat complete amino acids profile in every meal, but during the day, it is highly recommendable.
Best protein sources for vegetarians (more precisely – vegans) are legumes, nuts and seeds, cereals and grains, algae, soybean, and its products, seitan, vegetables, vegan protein powders and supplements in general, etc.
Vegan protein powders are now more and more available in stores and of course webshops with delivery throughout the USA and worldwide. These powders are based on protein derived from soy, wheat, rice, hemp, barley, etc. Their amino acid profile doesn't differ much from animal protein powders and can and should be used to increase daily protein intake.
Amino acids and supplements like BCAA, Leucine, Arginine, Creatine, Glutamine, etc are produced in different ways. Some of them are produced from plant sources, some are not. If you are vegan and you are interested in similar products, please read labels to see what they are made of.
Also, some companies use enzyme production, some live bacteria – some vegans are sensitive even to this, so please, ask supplement companies. Such information goes beyond this article and our site.