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A nutritious diet is paramount to a high quality of life. The type of food you use to fuel your body has a direct impact on how you feel day to day and how well your body functions.
Along with fruits, vegetables, and good carbs and fats, a diet for optimal health should include plenty of protein. Protein can be consumed via a wide variety of foods, including both animal and plant products.
Even if you aren’t vegetarian, the multitude of plant protein benefits shouldn’t be ignored. To learn everything you need to know about this type of protein and how it compares to animal protein, keep reading!
What is Protein?
Protein is an essential nutrient, as it’s responsible for many crucial tasks such as providing energy and aiding in the growth and repair of the body. It’s found in every part of your body, including bone, hair, skin, and especially muscle.
In fact, about 40% of a healthy body composition is comprised of muscle, and 20% of that muscle is made up of protein. And because the body cannot produce its own protein, it’s important that we consume it through diet.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the basis for virtually every process in your body. This is where the differences come in. Different types of protein contain different combinations of amino acids and other nutrients.
Plant Protein vs. Animal Protein
As we mentioned above, though the word “protein” is usually associated with meats and other animal products such as milk and eggs, protein can be found in both animals and vegetables.
One of the main differences in plant and animal proteins is their nutrient content. There are benefits and drawbacks to each, which is why an optimal diet contains both.
First, let’s dive a little deeper into amino acids. There are about 20 amino acids your body needs to function properly and are classified as essential and non-essential. Non-essential amino acids can be produced by the body, while essential must be consumed through diet.
Animal protein is a more complete source of amino acids than plant based protein, as certain plant sources of protein are low in some amino acids. The most common missing amino acids in plant protein are methionine, tryptophan, isoleucine, and lycine.
In addition, while plant protein is typically a lower calorie choice, animal protein is better for building mass when paired with weight training. Though plant protein can be used for weightlifting, do your research into plant protein vs whey before making your decision.
Lastly, animal protein contains a higher amount of a few vital nutrients. These include vitamin B12, vitamin D, DHA, heme-iron, and zinc.
That’s not to say that there aren’t nutrients found in plant products that would be difficult to obtain through a carnivorous diet. But to have a truly balanced plant based diet, you’ll need to be extra conscientious with your food choices.
Plant Protein Benefits
Consuming animal products can be part of a healthy diet if you have no dietary restriction or moral objection preventing you from doing so. But even if you consume animal products, some of your protein should come from plants, as it provides additional benefits when compared to animal sources of protein.
Listed below are just a few of the benefits of plant based protein.
1. Plant Protein is More Filling
One nutrient that animal protein is lacking in is fiber. Luckily, plant protein is packed with it. This means that plant protein is often more filling, and keeps you full longer, than animal protein.
Beans and legumes, in particular, are excellent sources of fiber and will help you feel satisfied between meals.
2. Plant Protein Promotes Gut Health
Your gut health plays a large part in your overall well-being. The microbiome of your gut affects both your mental and physical health, which is why you need to work hard to keep it in check.
Plant protein can help you do just that, as it promotes microbiome diversity and contains a higher amount of protective species that fight inflammation.
3. Plant Protein Can Add Years to Your Life
Plant protein is incredibly nutrient-dense. This means it assists your body in fighting disease by cleansing your body and keeping your organs healthy.
But that’s not all. Plant protein can also help you to look and feel younger by preventing disease and both internal and external symptoms of aging, and can actually add years to your life.
Ensure that your diet includes plenty of nuts, beans, and grains to build a strong, healthy body and prevent diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
4. Plant Protein Helps with Weight Loss
If you’re trying to shed a few pounds this year, look no further than plant products to help you do so. Because plant protein contains so much fiber, you’ll find that you feel hungry less often.
Consuming plant based protein can also boost your energy levels, making you more inclined to be physically active!
Add Plant Protein to Your Diet Today
As you can see, there are a variety of both animal and plant protein benefits. The easiest way to achieve a balanced diet is to consume both, but the most important thing is nutrition, not where those nutrients come from.
Whether you’re an omnivore, a vegetarian, or a vegan, you can reach optimal health with the right combination of foods. Regardless of your dietary choices, do your best to fuel your body with the highest quality of food possible. You’ll be amazed by how great you feel!
For more tips on boosting your health through diet, be sure to take a look at our blog!