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Supercharge Your Workouts with These High-Protein Plant Foods
One of the best ways to capitalize on the work you do in the gym is to eat a high protein diet. Protein is the building blocks of muscle, and eating plenty of it helps to grow your strength and recover from exercise faster.
Eating protein also offers a raft of other health benefits, including reducing inflammation and the risk of heart disease.
In recent times, more and more people have shifted from relying heavily on animal proteins such as meat, fish and eggs to plant-based proteins. The fitness industry has realized that the highest plant-based protein foods have similar amounts of protein to animal products.
Plant proteins allow fitness enthusiasts to meet their performance goals sustainably, minimizing the environmental impact of their diet in the process.
These are some of the highest plant-based protein foods to supercharge your diet and complement your fitness regime.
The Power of Rubisco: Exploring the Highest Plant-Based Protein
Rubisco is the world’s most abundant plant protein. It’s found in any green leaf, and is the protein that fuels photosynthesis by capturing carbon dioxide.
Leaft Foods’ innovative extraction technology has unlocked the powerful nutritional benefits of rubisco, providing an comprehensive array of nutrients to power your fitness goals.
Rubisco protein has a strong amino acid profile that’s similar to beef. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and rubisco has a balance of essential and non essential amino acids that help to build and repair muscle, as well as fuel overall wellbeing.
Rubisco also has high bioavailability, which means its nutritional value is easily able to be absorbed by the body. Quick absorption allows the muscles to receive the nutrients in rubisco soon after a workout, promoting muscle recovery and growth when they need it most.
As well as having a stronger nutritional profile than many other plant-based proteins, rubisco is typically harvested from the most sustainable plants. Alfalfa, spinach, kale and other leafy greens are common sources of rubisco, and all of these crops are able to be grown, farmed and harvested sustainably.
Legume Love: Unleashing Protein Powerhouses
Legumes are packed with protein and other nutrients, making them both powerful and versatile sources of plant-based protein.
Specifically, legumes such as black beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas have the highest protein content among plant-based foods.
They offer a balanced profile of protein, fiber and carbohydrates, as well as essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium, and folate. This comprehensive nutritional combination fuels muscle growth and recovery, as well as good digestion, energy, muscle function and overall wellbeing.
Incorporating legumes into pre- or post-workout meals is simple and delicious.
Before working out, adding chickpeas to salad provides more protein to a light meal. Adding legumes into pre-workout smoothies is another way to provide energy to sustain your exercise.
Post-workout, legumes are fantastic at aiding muscle recovery and growth. Lentils and beans are perfect in stews, and bowls of beans and quinoa (which is a protein packed grain that we’ll touch on shortly) go well with an array of vegetables and sauces.
Grain Gains: Fueling Workouts with Protein-Rich Grains
Grains are another popular plant-based protein, with high protein content and a variety of other minerals and nutrients. The likes of quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat all make for versatile, healthy and tasty plant-based meals that help to achieve your fitness goals.
- Quinoa is considered a powerhouse among grains, with all nine essential amino acids that aid muscle growth and recovery.
- The high protein content in amaranth is complemented by good amounts of iron and magnesium, which also contribute to muscle function.
- Buckwheat is similarly nutritious, and is a slow-release energy source that sustains workouts and also helps with muscle recovery.
Grains are highly versatile, which means incorporating them into your diet is simple.
Pre-workout, quinoa salads with vegetables, seeds and nuts are a lean source of protein and complex carbohydrates for energy and muscle growth. Amaranth porridge is another hearty, protein packed way of fuelling exercise.
Afterwards, grains are a great way of replenishing energy while boosting muscle recovery. Buckwheat and quinoa go well with roasted vegetables and lean proteins like tofu. Grains are excellent substitutes for rice, which makes them perfect with curries or stir frys.
Green Giants: Harnessing Protein from Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are hugely under-appreciated as a lean source of powerful plant-based protein. The likes of spinach, kale and watercress offer a host of health benefits alongside a high protein content.
- Spinach is packed with amino acids and essential vitamins like Vitamin K for bone health and iron for energy.
- Kale is another protein-heavy leaf that is high in antioxidants such as vitamin C.
- Watercress is also rich in Vitamin A and K, helping with healthy skin.
These leafy greens are all high in other antioxidants and micronutrients, notably folate, fiber and magnesium. All of these nutritional advantages come together to make leafy greens a great all-around source of workout and general nutrition.
It’s well known that leafy greens are great in smoothies and salads. You can also add them to pastas, stir frys and curries, or steam or pan-fry them on their own as a side to just about any meal. They’re incredibly light to eat, making them perfect for a protein boost before a workout in particular.
Nuts and Seeds: Tiny Protein Powerhouses
Lastly, nuts and seeds are a great way to insert bursts of protein to your diet, either as quick and easy snacks on their own, or in your cooking. Almonds, chia seeds and hemp seeds are all packed with protein, as well as healthy fats and other nutrients.
- Almonds are loaded with amino acids and vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that helps to reduce the stress of working out on the muscles.
- Chia seeds are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which support joint health and recovery, and help to ease inflammation.
- Hemp seeds are a complete protein, with all nine essential amino acids and a perfect ratio of omega-3 to omega 6 fatty acids.
The protein content in these nuts and seeds alone is significant, but they offer a variety of other benefits that make them a great way to sustain your overall well being and complement your exercise regime.
Snacking on nuts and seeds is easy, either on their own or mixing a few different varieties together. Dried fruit and dark chocolate also complement nuts and seeds in a delicious trail mix for any time of day, including as a light snack before a workout. Chia seed pudding is also a great protein-filled breakfast.
Post workout, mixing almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds into shakes adds flavor and nutrition. You can mix them into baking, stir fries or curries, adding both protein and texture to your meals.
The world of fitness and nutrition is only starting to fully wake up to the power and potential of the highest plant-based proteins.
As well as offering complete nutrition to power your fitness goals, the versatility of plant proteins stand them apart from animal-based alternatives. Incorporating plant proteins into your everyday diet is simple and easy - rather than basing full meals around one protein source, you can build out your diet with a healthy variety of foods.
The examples given here are a great start, and there’s plenty of opportunity to explore more. Head to Leaft Foods to learn more about rubisco protein, or start your own search to discover more about sustainable, nutritious plant proteins.