Switching to a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for your health and the planet, but the transition can come with a lot of questions: Am I getting enough protein? Should I start taking vitamins? Can I get the nutrients I need from plants?
Our nutritionist Samantha Frost answers all of them. Samantha Frost is a recognized specialist in Nutritional and Herbal Medicine, integrated pharmacology, environmental health and community health promotion. As Global Nutrition Lead for Adidas Runners she used to coach athletes around the world how to improve their performance on a plant-based diet. Now, she is the Global Head of Nutrition at Your Super.
Am I getting enough protein?
While protein is a key part of any diet, it is possible to consume too much. In fact, a 2013 study compared the protein intake of 71,000 non-vegetarians, vegetarians, and vegans. The study found that vegetarians and vegans got 70% more protein than they needed, while non-vegetarians got 80% more than they needed. It is also worth considering that the amount of protein we eat does not mean we absorb all of it. You might wonder how much protein you really need. The answer is: Probably less than you think.
The British Nutrition Foundation recommends 0.75g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This makes approximately 56g/day for men and 45g/day for women.
What are the best sources of vegan protein?
Plants such as beans, grains and nuts are packed with essential nutrients and proteins. Make sure you eat complete plant sources of protein, i.e. plants that contain all the essential amino acids. This can be lentils, peas or kidney beans, but also quinoa or even walnuts provide protein and are an additional source of important omega-3 fatty acids! The high-fibre content of plant-based foods also promotes a healthy microbiome, which in turn means that essential nutrients can be better absorbed by the body!
Coaching athletes, I have noticed time and again that a vegan diet can have a particularly positive effect on athletic performance. This has also been proven in several studies. The food we eat nourishes what we do, and all indications are that we can do more when we eat more plants. Ready to fuel with plants? Click here to learn more about the top plant-based protein sources.
Best plant-based protein mixes
10g of easily digestible protein per serving. Microgreens like sprouts and moringa are also great sources of vitamin C and iron.
9g of easily digestible protein per serving. Further, bananas and lucuma give long-lasting energy to support your body during workouts.
Will I be vitamin deficient?
While eating a diverse, plant-based diet should provide you with all the nutrients you need, you can still be deficient in vitamins and minerals.
The truth is, most people are lacking some essential nutrients in their diet. Yes, omnivores too! According to multiple studies, some of the most common deficiencies are iron, zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. So, how can you tell if you’re nutrient deficient?
Your body will try to adapt for as long as possible but gradually, as other resources are depleted, you start to feel it. If you are experiencing multiple symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and sudden weight gain it is worth doing a dietary review with a nutritionist and speaking with your doctor about potential testing.
Best mixes for vitamin intake
Fuel up on greens that naturally contain vitamin A, C, E, K and calcium.
Treat your body to vitamin C and antioxidants with this berry-blend.
How can I benefit from superfoods?
Superfoods are nutritional powerhouses. They’re natural whole foods extremely high in micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and healthy fats.
So, why would you eat superfoods when you can pop a multivitamin? Because your body recognises superfoods as potent sources of what it will benefit from by digesting all the useful compounds, just like it does with other foods. Your body is very efficient at responding to what you eat and getting what it needs from it. Taste and texture play an important role here – they stimulate the mind and digestion.
Superfoods like bananas, blueberries, cacao, and chia seeds can already be found at your local grocery store. A lot of superfoods like sprouts, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds might even be on your weekly shopping list! But the most convenient and most delicious way to add them to your daily ritual is in powdered form.
Your Super’s superfood mixes can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, water, dressings — the possibilities are endless! Want to get started with superfoods? Click here to check out our collection of functional superfood mixes.
Start your vegan journey
Look at you! You’ve already tackled the most important step: deciding to incorporate more plant-based meals. And now that some of your most pressing nutrition questions have been answered, you can finally get started. Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered! Here are our top tips for stocking a plant-based pantry!