Vegan Protein- expensive or not?
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If you are taking your first steps towards veganism but not sure what protein sources to choose from, then read on. For anyone transitioning to eating vegan protein sources, it might be confusing finding the right sources and quantity. We will explore together if vegan protein's are actually expensive or not.
Plant- based diet has various benefits on the human body including better performance and digestion. Athletes thrive on a plant- based diet and in fact, many athletes choose this over meat/ dairy. Especially during peak season for athletes, a plant- based diet proves beneficial because it is naturally higher in low GL carbs and packed with nutrients.
Coming from someone who at one point drank 4 Whey protein shakes a day, I have seen both diet extremes and know what I am talking about here. Much like all of you, I was always told that proteins are very important and all problems I had, such as bad recovery post workout, cramps during menstrual cycle, fat gain, muscle loss, bad sleep etc were because I did not have enough proteins in my diet. Every time a gym trainer would do my BCA or body measurements and not find a difference from last time, it was because I did not eat chicken and eggs. My ethics were very strong when it came to eating anything that could once walk, so I resorted to Whey protein shakes, the vegetarian alternative.
Was my recovery better? Heck no, but I did eat less though. I mean after drinking 4 shakes a day you really are not that hungry. I was taking 140-150 grams of protein per day on a 55 kg body weight. My digestive track was a total havoc because I was unaware at that time that I was mildly lactose intolerant. In fact, as per this study, about 65% of the world is lactose intolerant with upto 90% in certain ethnicities. In fact upto 86% people in India are lactose intolerant! The problem is, most of us consume dairy in the name of health and won't even know that it is making us sicker.
Besides Whey, I was taking lots of curds, cottage cheese and even tofu. I woke up always feeling bloated and my otherwise good skin, got really bad (consequences of which I still face today. It was not until a much later HongKong/ China trip where I binge ate pizza’s and ice creams that I started becoming conscious about going vegan. I am not sure what caused me to switch (maybe a desperate attempt to clear my skin), but I decided to go 8 weeks vegan and even switched my Whey for Sunwarrior vegan protein. At that time, not many brands in India produced vegan proteins. Now of course we have some fantastic brands such as Plix and Olena.
Stop looking for low- carb options.
One major myth that you need to break while on a plant- based diet is to look for low- carb protein options. Unless you are eating a lot of processed food such as mock meat and protein bars, you will not be able to find vegan protein sources that fit your budget. Even vegan athletes eat a high- carb diet. Carb's ALONG with proteins make up your muscles. Besides, a whole food plant- based diet is very low in high GI carbs so you wont gain fat either.
Stick to basics of what is available around you! Rice and beans/ legumes/ pulses are huge in India and loaded with carbs and proteins! No you do not need chia seeds, alfa alfa seeds, adzuki beans, seatin, tempeh etc. I mean its awesome if you can afford it, plus requires less meal planning, but you do not really need it. Especially if you are consuming 15-20% calories coming from proteins per day (enough for fat loss). Even for muscle gain I consume no more than 25% overall calories from proteins. Protein powders are also not required, even vegan once. I love the taste and use them to make my post workout desserts though!
Options to choose from.
Spinach (Rs. 15/- for 200 grams) is excellent and better alternative to broccoli as it is easily available in India. Has almost as much proteins as 2 egg whites (I believe organic eggs are Rs. 100/- for only 6). Green peas are loaded in proteins, and so are sprouts. Having rice and one type of pulse/ beans for lunch with some boiled or raw veggies is enough protein for one meal. Either rajma and rice or chana and rice, Amaranth or wheat roti’s with soy bean sabzi or tur daal/ red lentil etc will give you close to 30 grams on proteins in one meal only.
One kg of millets is about Rs. 160/- and lasts you close to 8 servings if you are making a smoothie bowl. Thats Rs. 20/- per serving! A home made breakfast smoothie bowl with boiled millets, blended fruits and topped with nuts, dry fruits, raisins is about 15-18 grams of proteins. Even if you do not want to add nuts, get seeds such as sunflower seeds. Amazon sells them in bulk for 200 grams costing less than Rs. 150/-. That is Rs. 7/- or less per serving. Homemade nut butter, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc will only add in more proteins. Seeds could have as much as 21 gram s of protein per 100 grams. That is more than dairy milk. These also taste exceptionally good. I also enjoy besan pancakes and boiled mung beans for my breakfast. These staples are often in all households.
Having Buckwheat, Ragi, Amaranth, Jowar, Bajra, Quinoa for dinner with tofu or more beans is a good way to end the day. Buckwheat is a little expensive but still nothing compared to meat or protein powders. Also think long term, all the cardio vascular and heart diseases you will catch from consuming meat and dairy will end up costing you much more than the money you spend on a vegan diet. Not to mention the time wasted in the hospital and more over you life!
I love to snack on veggies, peanuts, roasted chickpeas, homemade oats cookies, black beans, rice crisps. These are all great to add some more proteins at low cost.
It is however very important to give up your fear of carbs. Carbs alone wont make you fat, lack of activity, late night binge eating rice, no exercise, sedentary lifestyle, too much sugar, dairy and dairy products however will.
Listen to your body signals, eat when hungry and stop when you feel full. Exercise 45-60 minutes (literally anything but walking!) 4 times per week and avoid eating anything not cooked by you. That literally is the cheapest way to lose weight. Off course if you have competitive goals or want to get into a bikini you will have to measure your macros etc, but not otherwise.
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