Vegan diets often get a bad rap in the fitness community:
There's no way vegans can get enough protein. You need to eat meat to feed your muscles!
This is an outdated mindset. Removing animal products from one’s diet isn’t inherently a problem, and when you teach your clients how to do it properly, the transition to plant-based supplements can actually provide exceptional health benefits.
There are plenty of natural, complete proteins that are available in a vegan lifestyle; they’re just a little harder to obtain, and vegans have to ensure they’re getting enough protein-rich grains, legumes, beans, and rice to compensate.
Luckily, plant-based protein powders make it easy to get the appropriate proteins for overall health.
But vegan powders aren’t just for people on a meatless diet. If an active person is looking to cut down on the amount of dairy in their diet, plant-based protein can step in.
In any diet, protein powders shouldn’t be the only source of these essential amino acids. Other common sources of protein are dairy products. They even form the base of most shakes.
There are other great reasons why athletes should take vegan protein supplements: they can help the user live cleaner, build muscle in a way that won’t mess up their digestive system, and lose weight. If you’re considering a protein powder, keep these reasons in mind.
Now, let’s dive into some more reasons why you should get your clients on vegan protein powder:
1. They Will Reduce Digestive Stress
You’ll hear it a lot from people just starting out with shakes and who ostensibly don’t have digestive problems: these shakes are killing their insides.
A lot of dairy-based proteins, like whey and casein, can come with some rather unexpected side effects, including prolonged flatulence. One can still be sensitive to lactose without being completely intolerant, and if users are feeling gassy, bloated, or stuffed up, it could be due to the amount of dairy their ingesting.
Whey protein powder is dairy-based, which may cause adverse side effects for anyone with a sensitivity to dairy
Because many active athletes take one-to-four shakes a day, digestive distress is a common symptom. Whey will always have lactose, regardless of how high-quality an isolate it is—if it has concentrates, it’ll have lactose.
If shakes are going to be an integral part of the weight loss regimen, it’s important to have one that is easy to digest and allergen free.
Soy is a great, complete protein, but it also comes with some allergy-related baggage. Rice protein is hypoallergenic, though not complete, is easy to combine, and often comes as a part of plant-based blends.
Vegan proteins are also alkaline forming, as opposed to the acid forming problems that can arise with whey or casein. This makes them good for consumers who have a problem with acid reflux.
2. They Will Increase Their Diet Diversity
Because of how proteins are regularly ingested, it can make sense for the supplements you take to be vegan.
Diversifying your diet means getting proteins from more than one source, and often times, much of the protein we get comes from animals—meat and dairy being the most obvious ones.
This can mean a lot of antibiotics and chemicals get in everyday diets unless the user is committed to a grass-fed, well-sourced (and expensive) meat diet.
If you’re forming a diet that involves eliminating intake of harmful chemicals, then dairy-based proteins aren’t generally a good protein to take.
Diversity can also mean ingesting more beneficial vitamins and minerals that might be lacking in common protein sources. Many vegan proteins have fiber and a wide range of probiotics and fatty acids.
3. They Will Be More Likely to Successfully Lose Weight
Although it may not be intuitive, given how much protein powders are attached to massive muscle gain, protein can be an essential part of weight loss since it helps boost metabolism and reduce cravings.
Increasing your clients' protein intake can be a great way to optimize their macronutrient balance. More protein means less fat and carbs. Of course, fat and carbs are not "bad" components of food, but protein has been shown to offer greater satisfaction per calorie than the other two macros.
Proteins are also important for weight loss because digesting them actually speeds up your metabolism. It takes many more calories to metabolize protein than carbs or fats, making protein an integral part of weight loss.
4. They Might Experience Some Unexpected Benefits
Vegan protein powder has several benefits, including reducing soreness
There are also some benefits that one might not expect from a common protein supplement.
For soy, some of these include preventative effects against chronic degenerative diseases and healthier cholesterol levels. If you’re allergic to soy, there are other options. Hemp, rice, and pea proteins are all good if you’re averse to soy, though they might have to be combined before they become complete. A vegan diet can help fight inflammation, pain, and can reduce soreness.
Plant-based proteins are also more ethical and sustainable. It doesn’t take as much fuel, water, or land to produce plants as it does animal proteins.
You’ll easily find organic, non-GMO, no chemical plant options; whey and casein, if they aren’t reduced and isolated enough, might contain growth hormones, antibiotics, or other chemicals that were added to the animal feed.
If your clients have complained about digestive issues such as gas or bloating, or they just aren't seeing their body lean out the way they would like, consider helping them experiment with vegan protein supplements instead of their typical variety.
Remember, you can position this as an 'experiment,' not necessarily a life-long change.
That will ease your clients' apprehension about moving away from something that they may know and love. Help them understand that it's worth even a short experiment if the potential benefits are so great.