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Vegan runners come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. But, one common question these herbivorous runners have is: “How do you get enough protein?” Protein is a staple for runners and although runners on plant-based diets can get enough of it, finding the right meat substitutes is important. Here are the three best and worst protein sources.
Best Meat Substitutes
These fermented soybeans are popular breakfast staple for the Japanese. They look like kidney beans and have a chewy, stringy texture. Natto may be tiny in size especially compared to meaty tenderloin steaks but it delivers a high protein punch. One hundred grams of Natto contain 18 grams of protein.
It is rich in omega -3 fatty acids, important minerals like iron and calcium, as well as essential vitamins. If you are into DIY, you can try to make natto yourself, otherwise, it can be found in a pre-packaged form. Natto can be eaten cooked or raw, which is great news for some of us whose biggest culinary accomplishment is cooking instant noodles.
Let us say it first, not all vegans are healthy. Junk food does exist in its vegan form too and no, they too do not get a pass for being quality food.
Pronounced say-tahn, it may sound foreign and exotic to many of us. But, this ingredient is more commonly found than we think. Seitan has earned the street cred as “wheat meat” and usually takes the form of mock pork or beef in Chinese vegetarian restaurants.
Apart from its versatility to be moulded into different “meats” from stir-fries to braised dishes, seitan is a nutrient-dense-low-calorie food. This means you can eat away without worrying that it will pile up on your waistline…as much.
Often found at our local stores wrapped in brown paper and leaves, it may not be the most glamorous super food around, but when it comes to being a meat substitute in terms of both texture and nutrition, tempeh has got some serious game. Its nutty and mushroom-like taste makes it the perfect ingredient to add to your home-cooked savoury dish.
Also, every 100 grams of tempeh will provide you with 18 grams of protein and eight percent of the recommended daily intake of iron and calcium. As a vegan meat, the fermented soybean ticks all the right boxes.
Worst Meat Substitutes
Salted and Roasted Nuts
Nuts have been raved as the latest all-natural, healthy food. On top of providing good, heart-healthy fats, nuts have been found to be able to help us live longer, making them a great meat substitute. But, consuming nuts do come with a fine print: it has to be all natural. The honey roasted and salted titbits that we all love – and we are probably snacking on right now – are not considered as natural and are not that healthy either.
Salted nuts have high sodium level which could spike our blood pressure. Also, do not be fooled by their small sizes. Nuts are already high in calorie count, now add all the oil and seasoning, we have a calorie bomb. Considering that we tend to consume nuts mindlessly while lounging on our couch, we are prone to eat more than we should. To reap the benefits with minimal risks, opt for unsalted nuts.
Frozen Mock Meat
Let us say it first, not all vegans are healthy. Junk food does exist in its vegan form too and no, they too do not get a pass for being quality food. Although mock meat is usually made from seitan, a good source of nutrients in its own, frozen mock meats are often infused with high amounts of sodium and chemicals which drown seitan’s health benefits.
There are, of course, good quality pre-packaged mock meat out there, but before putting them on the pan, check the ingredients list first. If half of its makeup reads more like a chemistry textbook than grocery, ditch it.
While there is nothing wrong with adding a spoonful of protein powder into our power smoothie, relying on it as a protein source is too limiting. You may ask, “Protein powder contains all the things that vegan runners may consume on a daily basis anyway like soy and rice, so what’s the difference?”
Well, processing. In the making of protein powder, these healthy ingredients are subjected to high heat which destroys much of their goodness. Not to mention all the sugars and flavour enhancer sprinkles to make it more palatable. We can easily substitute protein powder with real food and still meet our daily protein intake. So, why not?
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