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Plant-based Protein for Runners

Kayla Slater

Jun 30, 2019

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Are you worried about going plant-based because you don’t know if you can get enough protein in your diet? Or do you struggle getting enough plant-based sources of protein in your diet? Well if so, I will argue that you can. But first, what is protein and why do you need it?


Protein is a macronutrient, one of our 6 main nutrients our body needs. Protein builds and repairs tissues, so is especially important for runners or anyone that lives an active lifestyle to support your tissues and muscles. Especially for recovery! Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids.

Of the 20 amino acids, some your body makes itself (nonessential) and the other you must eat in your diet (essential). Unfortunately, only protein found in animal products are complete because they contain all 9 essential amino acids. But does that mean you can’t get all essential amino acids in your diet if you eat 100% plant-based? No.

Previously it was thought that you had to eat a plant-based protein source like black beans with brown rice at the same meal to make it a complete protein. This term “protein complementarity” came from a book called a Diet for a Small Planet originally written in 1971 by Frances Moore Lappe. Now, we know this is not entirely true.

According to Harvard, “it’s not necessary to eat these incomplete proteins at the same time, just within the same day.” And according to other studies, it is possible to meet your protein requirements. As long as you eat a variety of plant sources such as tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils, grains, nuts, vegetables, etc. you will be able to get all your essential amino acids and meet your protein needs.

Here are 5 tips for getting enough protein on a plant-based diet:

1. Meal prep – it’s important to plan out your meals and prep ahead of time, so you know you will be able to get the protein you need during the week.


Hint: Use my meal planning guide! Download here.


2. Figure out how much protein you should eat per week. Runners need slightly more than average: about 1.2-1.4 g/kg.


3. Choose plant proteins with high protein content at every meal like beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, etc.

4. Consistency. Try to include a source of protein at each meal not just at dinner time.


5. Find different ways to enjoy them! Sautéed, roasted, baked, dried, in salads, in dishes, etc. My favorite is roasted chickpeas! Check out my recipe E-book for great plant-based recipes with protein! Sign up below!

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