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I would consider myself a pretty fit dude and an intense gym kind of guy. Oh, and I’m also vegan. So of course, I’m constantly asked the question, ‘so where do you get your protein?’
Before answering that, let’s get a quick and basic understanding of how muscle is actually built.
In relation to exercise, resistance training is generally considered the best type of exercise to promote muscle growth, as they become overloaded and push beyond their regular limits. It is during these intense lifting sessions that your muscle fibers become damaged and tear.
After you work out, your body repairs or replaces the damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process where it fuses muscle fibers together to form new muscle protein strands.
During this time, it’s essential your body receives the necessary nutrients to repair, as this will stimulate hormone release and set the stage for increased protein synthesis—the process all cells use to make proteins.
Protein is the basic building block of all of the body’s tissues, especially muscle. Proteins are made from amino acids, some of which the body can synthesize and some of which must be consumed in the diet. Without amino acids, it would be impossible to build, repair or even maintain muscle tissue.
While most seek types of meat for their primary protein source, there are a variety of plant-based alternatives that are packed with the muscle-building macronutrient. As a matter of fact, many in the health and wellness community believe plant-based food are the optimal source for protein.
Dr Milton Mills, member of the Board of Directors, Plant-based Prevention Of Disease, Inc., makes a strong point in the eye-opening documentary What the Health when he asks, ‘where did the animal you consume get its protein? The doctor goes on to say, ”any protein you get from an animal is simply recycled protein. So you are essentially cutting out the middle man.”
So if not meat, where? Large amounts of protein can be found in sources such as in beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, and soy to name a few. These healthy foods not only offer an ample dose of the muscle-building macro, but also come packaged together with health-promoting phytonutrients and fiber that you won’t find from flesh. In addition, plant-based foods are loaded with antioxidants, which are helpful in reducing the intensive load exercise places on the body.
Finally, if you’re skeptical about the taste (or lack of) when it comes to plant-based foods, check out some of our favorite vegan recipes here for a hearty helping of delicious foods that will provide all the protein you’ll need to get bigger and stronger.