Thursday, June 21, 2012

Protein On A Vegan Diet

This story was on the New York Times Well blog yesterday:
Can Athletes Perform Well on a Vegan Diet?

It brought up the question of protein:
Q. Is it hard for someone who’s training vigorously to get enough protein on a vegan diet?
One answer was given by Nancy Clark, "a sports nutrition expert:"
"You do have to be diligent about protein intake if you’re vegan. I have clients, especially women, who say, ‘Oh, I put a few chickpeas in my salad.’ But that’s not going to do it. Women need about 60 to 90 grams of protein a day, and athletes are on the high end of that. That means you have to eat cupfuls of chickpeas. And you can’t eat a quarter of that cake of tofu. You need to eat the whole thing. It’s not that there aren’t good sources of vegan protein. But it’s not as bioavailable as meat. So you need to have more."
I don't know what has happened in my life to make me so agreeable, but I agree with her. If you're vegan, 3 chickpeas on a salad won't cut it.

But you don't need a lot, even if you're an athlete. Rich Roll, the ultramarathoner vegan, says he doesn't get much more than about 10% protein (10% of a 2000 calorie diet is 200 calories from protein or about 50 grams of protein. Although Roll probably eats more calories and so more protein). Still, 3 chickpeas probably only provide about 0.25 grams of protein.


K said...

She claims that her clients have included Boston Red Sox & Boston Celtics players
and Olympic athletes. (I wish she'd name them.)

"You need to eat the whole thing."
A regular cake of tofu is 18 or 19 ounces. It may or may not be a lot of protein, but it's a lot of tofu for one sitting.

Bix said...

A whole cake of tofu in a sitting is a lot. I also think cupfuls of beans are a lot. Even Dr. McDougall, whose diet advice is essentially vegan, says to limit bean consumption to one cup a day.

Leo said...

I don't eat read meat often, except for the occasional fast food hamburger, and I'm not sure I'd call that meat. So I'm always looking for new ways to get protein, AND iron, I bruise easily because I know I don't get enough iron. I try to eat a lot of beans. ;) peace

Sweetie_CO said...

I have the same situation. My recommended daily amount of proteins is pretty big (based on How Much Protein a Woman Needs Daily) and I simply have no idea how to get such an amount without animal proteins (I'm a vegan).

Do you know any vegan recipes that contain high amount of protein?

Jacki said...

lol @ a whole cake of tofu. I add blackstrap molasses to my oatmeal for iron/calcium. I try to have a protein at every meal, but since everything has protein in it, it's not a huge deal. I get about 60g per day, many days more, and sometimes less. The small potato, beans, and spinach I had for breakfast had 12g of protein, and I still have four meals and a snack left! I haven't found it difficult once I developed a habit. Oh yeah, and I'm endurance athlete.