It’s actually very simple, says Trainer, Callum Melly
The most common question I’ve faced since adopting a plant-based diet is “where do you get your protein from?” and my response is simple, the same place the strongest and most muscular mammals on earth get their protein from – plants. That doesn’t mean you’ll find me simultaneously swinging and scoffing down leaves like a gorilla, neither grazing grasslands and ripping up roots like rhinos and elephants, but what it does mean is that I will eat a variety of plant-based whole foods and always endeavour to have a rainbow of colour on my plate.
Another question is, as a former meat eater of 28 years, why did I adopt a plant-based diet and how have I been able to build lean muscle by just eating plants? Well, from the day we are born we are literally spoon fed by our parents, naturally forming relationships with the foods our parents eat, which ultimately influences the diet we adopt in early life. However, with the blooming evidence surrounding the benefits of a plant-based diet, it’s only natural to explore a potentially healthier and more environmentally sound way of living and eating.
The biggest challenge, however, is to stop looking at animal produce as the only true, complete source of protein and start to look at plant-based produce as complementary sources of protein. Amino acids – the building blocks of your muscle-building macro – are initially made by plants, anyway. Therefore, providing you eat a variety of plant-based foods, you are able to hit any macro target because this variety of amino acids will stack up throughout your daily nutrition plan to create complete proteins which are essential for growth, repair and recovery.
As a bonus, plant-based whole foods are often easier to digest in comparison to animal produce. You’ll also absorb more micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, as well as increase satiety due to their fibre content for easier weight loss and better support your gut biome for overall health. Do you see where I’m going here? Protein isn’t the be-all and end-all of nutrition, and there are plenty more compelling reasons to increase your intake of plants.
However, I am willing to concede that, especially for gym-goers, protein content is a sticking point. Therefore, if you’re looking to really ramp up your protein intake and want to ensure you are consuming an adequate amount of the essential amino acids associated with muscle maintenance and growth (leucine, isoleucine and valine), the shopping list below will cover all bases. Go large.
- Peanut Butter
- Soya beans
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Chia Seeds