One of the most frequently asked questions I receive as a result of being a vegan athlete is “Where do you get your protein?” This question is a good one and one that I am happy to expand on! After reading this post, I hope that you will have a bit more knowledge on what protein is and its function in the body. I also hope that you might try a plant-based protein powder! (I’ve got a recommendation for you that you can find on amazon, too!)

I was shopping at my local bulk food store and the protein powders happened to be next to the diapers, where I was shopping. The aisle was lined with all different flavors of whey protein. A nice couple was looking through the aisle confused by the many different products and happened to ask me: “Excuse me…do you know anything about these protein powders and protein in general?” I was happy to say that I did and then they asked me a question that I just had to answer honestly: “Are these whey proteins good? We see you have muscles and want our son to have muscles too and since he is working out really hard, we thought that getting him some protein would be good.” I told them that they were definitely doing the right thing by looking for some supplemental protein for their son who was working out, but that I was sad to say that I could not in good faith recommend anything that was on the shelf in front of them. I told them “although whey protein is readily available and very popular, it is not something I would put in my own body.” Why?

First let’s take a look at what google defines as whey protein:

whey protein definition

My definition: Glorified cheese. Milk. An inflammatory powder that when put in your body increases your intake of protein while simultaneously increasing your chances of cellular inflammation in the body. Whey also happens to contain casein, the main ingredient in milk. What is casein?

casein definition

Used in processed foods, paints and industrial products! Yuck! I would prefer to paint my house walls with casein, not the interior cellular walls in my body! My source for most of this information is Mr. Rip Esselstyn. He is the guy behind the Engine 2 Diet and also has a very famous father who performs open heart surgeries at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic. He also treats patients with food. They both believe in plant-based diets. The Esselstyn family has been extremely influential over the last five years and has released one of my favorite documentaries ever, Forks Over Knives, which you can find on Netflix. Check THIS out for one of his first interviews back in 2010. Also, THIS video of his TED talk is a must-see.

Why Do We Need Protein?

When we work out, we rip our muscle tissue and lactic acid builds up. That’s why you might have some pain or tenderness after not working out for a while and getting back into it. Protein has amino acids which help your muscle tissue rebuild and come back even stronger…that is the basic explanation of building muscle and that is why we need it. There are much broader definitions based on science and data, but I am not a scientist, so lets keep it simple.

Why We DON’T Need Whey Protein:

Whey is dairy. Dairy is inflammatory. What do I mean by that? It is hard for your body to digest because really, it is not made for humans. We do not need cow’s milk to survive…cows do! It is NOT the only source of calcium. Dairy milk consumption is on the decline. See? It is important to mention that in the article hyperlinked in the previous sentence, Dr. Katz says: “Just because something is called milk does not mean it’s nutritious. The devil is in the detail.” Katz, the director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center emphasizes, “it’s important to be careful about sugars or salt additives, and to check labels to ensure nutrients like calcium and vitamins have also been added.” Be sure to read the ingredients as all plant-based milks are not made the same.

Our Family’s Favorite Plant-Based Protein:

We are a Vega family. Vega is the leader in plant-based protein powders and was developed by Brendan Brazier, a champion triathlon athlete. Here’s why Vega is different…it actually tastes good! Chocolate, Vanilla, Mixed Berry,  Mocha…all of the flavors are great. I use it every day. I love it. My kids love it. I drink it sometimes twice a day when I am heavy training. In fact, sometimes they make it themselves:

 

In closing, if you are training a bit more than normal and would like to supplement your diet with a little extra protein to help repair those much-needed, baby-lifting muscles, then be sure to supplement with the right type of protein. Plant-based proteins are super easy on the body to digest and help the body to recover faster after a tough workout. I feed my kids a half serving of Vega in a protein smoothie every day to keep their bodies going strong and they love it.

Click on the image below to purchase Vega from Amazon or you can always keep an eye on the Vega Website for special deals and bundles that are exclusive to the site!

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Lean Green DAD™

Cory is a husband, father of three and vegan athlete. His blog, Lean Green DAD™, is a lifestyle blog about food, family and fun that helps passionate people, mostly parents, who have over-scheduled, busy lives maintain a healthy balance of plant-based nutrition, fitness and overall wellness.
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