It just takes a quick instagram search for #veganbodybuilder to debunk the myth that vegans are weak and lacking the ability to build muscle. But as a yoga and pilates teacher who abstains from meat consumption, I often wonder if I’m properly fueling my body with enough – and the right kind of – protein.
I aim to get 40 grams a day of plant based protein, and I nearly always hit my goal. A scoop of pea protein and some chia seeds in my morning oatmeal or smoothie, a nutrient-dense quinoa and black bean salad for lunch and a coconut curry bowl with tofu for dinner and I’ve far exceeded my intake. But the type of protein is what really makes all the difference.
Here is my guide to finding the best plant based protein powder (and my favs!), but whichever company you ended up choosing, I am going to suggest you also start supplementing with vegan BCAAs.
<< What Are BCAAs? >>
When buying fitness supplements, one is regularly bombarded with terms rarely heard. BCAAs being one of them. BCAAs, or branched chain amino acids, are abundant in whey protein powders and meat, yet can be scarce in a plant-based diet (especially one that is soy-free!). These essential building blocks lay the groundwork for protein to be metabolized effectively and as a result, they can help speed recovery, improve endurance and accelerate muscle development. Since I’ve been taking a scoop of BCAAS following my workouts, I’ve noticed ab definition at 30 that I couldn’t achieve doing two a days on a carnivorous diet at 22.
I’ve been pretty religiously using Naked Nutrition’s BCAAS because they are vegan and don’t contain any gelatin (which is pig feet and a bunch of other disgusting substances boiled down into ‘glue’), artificial flavors or additives. If you want to try them out I suggest purchasing the unflavored and adding a scoop to your smoothie/coconut yogurt/tea/etc.
However, full disclosure, I am currently hooked on their watermelon flavor. At first, I found it much too salty and I didn’t like how it over-powered my natural smoothie flavors or my morning oatmeal. But now, I eat it like a pixi stick, and I have to hold back restraint from not eating more than the serving size of one scooper! Probably not the healthiest way to ingest it, but it’s such a satisfying and indulgent treat to eat it right from the container using a teaspoon.
Do you have a favorite vegan BCAA supplement?