What is Protein?
Protein is an essential macronutrient that should be a big part of everyone’s diet. It’s a “macro” nutrient because we need to consume a lot of it. Why? Well, it’s pretty important, because it helps keep you alive. In fact, the word “protein” originates from the Greek word “proteos”, meaning “of the first rank”, or in other words, “the most important”.
Humans can break down and make their own protein, but require amino acids to do so. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and some of them can only be acquired from our diets; these are known as essential amino acids. It’s important to eat adequate amounts of every single one of the essential amino acids in order to provide our bodies with all of the building blocks it requires.
Why is Protein Essential?
Protein is present in every cell of our bodies and is used to keep us operating properly. It’s involved in regulating hormones, the immune system, brain function, growth and repair, and much more.
Why is Protein Important for CrossFit?
After an intensive workout, such as CrossFit, your body’s muscle fibers (made of long protein chains) will be torn and damaged. The aching you experience after a CrossFit session will be because of this!
The damage to your muscles may sound like the opposite of what you want to achieve, but fear not! Damaging them is the first step to strengthening them. Once your body has had the chance to cool down and relax, it will begin the repair process and build upon the corrupted muscle fibers. Bundles of protein filaments are fused to the damaged areas and actually make them bigger and stronger to prevent future injury.
However, if you don’t consume protein in your diet immediately pre- or post-CrossFit workout, then your body will acquire it by breaking down your healthy muscles instead and your damaged muscles will take longer to repair.
Are There Any Vegan Sources of Protein?
Plenty! But some are better than others. All of the essential amino acids can be found in both animal and plant-based/vegan food sources, but the ratio of each amino acid that is available differs. The majority of vegan food does not contain a whole protein - i.e. they are usually missing at least one essential amino acid. Whereas animal protein contains the whole protein.
To include all of the essential amino acids in your vegan diet, we recommend including a variety of protein-containing sources. Foods such as peas and quinoa are a great source of “whole protein” (all of the essential amino acids) and they also provide plenty of other beneficial nutrients. Tofu also contains a whole protein, but there is some debate over whether over-consumption of soy products is healthy.
If you choose to follow a vegan diet, then the best way to ensure you are eating enough protein is to eat as many different sources as you can. Variety is key!
How Much Vegan Protein do I Need?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Therefore, everyone needs to consume this amount to avoid getting sick. However, this does not take into account activity levels and should consequently only be recommended for sedentary people.
How Much Vegan Protein do I Need for CrossFit?
For those in the sporting world, the debate on how much protein is enough rages on. Various experts will recommend different amounts for CrossFit athletes and it’s also important to consider factors such as activity levels, weight, age, gender, and the package the protein comes in.
By “protein package”, we mean the vitamins, fats, carbohydrates, and so forth that come alongside the protein. Make sure that you eat protein as part of a diet that is low in saturated fats and processed foods, whilst high in other beneficial nutrients.
In terms of quantity, we recommend that you download an app, such as MyFitnessPal, to help you calculate your personal requirements. Or you could sign up to CrossFit Metric Personal Training for guidance from an experienced professional coach.
What Are the Best Vegan CrossFit Protein Snacks?
It’s not recommended to fill up before doing a CrossFit session, but it is a good idea to provide your body with some protein fuel. Additionally, it’s important to refuel your body post-workout as well and as quickly as possible. That’s where portable vegan snacks that are high in protein come in handy! We’ve listed some of the best vegan CrossFit protein snacks below:
- Nagi Protein Bars = Taking into account the importance of consuming a whole protein, whilst boosting your overall nutrient intake, Nagi Protein Bars are the perfect solution! Unlike lots of other protein bars on the market, Nagi excludes unhealthy fats and sugars.
- Breakfast Chia Oat Puddings = Packed full of protein, fiber, iron, omega-3, and other healthy dietary essentials, these “puddings” can be pre-made in portable Tupperware or jars and eaten pre- or post-CrossFit workout.
- Vegan Protein Powders = Of course, you can make yourself a post-CrossFit workout shake. Check out the link provided to compare the best vegan protein powders.