Do vegetarian athletes and exercisers get enough protein? | Musashi – Quality Performance Nutrition

Do vegetarian athletes and exercisers get enough protein?

As a vegetarian you are probably familiar with the question “how do you get enough protein?” and up until now you may not have been able to answer this question with confidence or certainty.  This article aims to dispel the myth that vegetarians are undernourished and explains how a carefully selected vegetarian diet can contain adequate protein to support the needs of an athlete or exercise enthusiast.  

Why do people choose to become vegetarians?
There are many reasons for a person to adopt a vegetarian diet: cultural and religious beliefs, moral beliefs including animal rights, health benefits and environmental issues.  Some athletes and exercise enthusiasts also adopt an ‘almost vegetarian’ diet to assist weight management or body composition.  These type of athletes commonly replace red meat with chicken, fish and eggs. 

Do Vegetarians get enough energy from food?
Vegetarians consuming a variety of foods on a daily basis including: legumes, wholegrain cereals, grains, soybeans, eggs, cheese and a selection of fruit and vegetables will meet the daily energy (Calorie) requirements to support general growth and energy.    

How do vegetarians get enough protein?
The term ‘complete protein’ refers to amino acids, the building blocks of protein.  There are 20 different amino acids which form protein, out of these 20 there are 9 amino acids which the body does not produce, these are referred to as essential amino acids or EAA and must be taken in through the diet on a daily basis.  In order for a protein to be considered ‘complete’ a protein must contain all 9 EAA.  It is true, meat, eggs and dairy are complete proteins and beans, nuts and vegetables aren’t, which leaves many people unsure how vegans achieve their daily protein requirements.  

Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan or someone just looking for a meat free meal, here are some healthy tips to ensure you are eating a balanced diet and achieving your daily protein requirements. 

  • Quinoa provides 8g of protein per 1 cup, cooked.  Quinoa looks a lot like couscous but is more nutritious.  It is full of fibre, iron, magnesium and manganese and as a complete protein it is a great substitute for rice. 
  • Chia provides 4g of protein per 2 tablespoon serving.  Chia seeds also contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and more fibre than flax seed or nuts.  Chia contains high levels of iron, calcium, zinc and antioxidants.  Chia turns gooey when combined with water or milk and makes great healthy deserts, smoothies and can even replace eggs in vegan free baking. 
  • Peanut butter on toast.  Two slices of bread with a layer of peanut butter on each slice provides approximately 15g of protein. It is that simple, each time a bean, lentil or peanut is combined with a wheat, rice or corn a complete protein is formed.  
  • Whey protein contains 24g of protein per 30g serve.  This is one of the simplest ways to consume a complete protein around training.  By simply adding a serve of whey protein powder to water creates an instant tasty ready to drink shake, but if you are someone who avoids dairy then this is not for you.  
  • Musashi Essential Aminos contains all of the 9 essential amino acids that the body can’t produce naturally.  We recommend adding 1.5 teaspoons of Musashi Essential Aminos to 150ml of water to create a tasty drink which is easy to consume and digest around training.  This is a great option for vegetarians, vegans, dairy free individuals or anyone looking to top up daily amino acids.