Yes, it’s pos­si­ble to build mus­cle and strength with plant-based pro­tein

Amazing Wellness - - CONTENTS - By Vera Tweed

Power Plants The best plant pro­teins for ve­gan ath­letes.

Plant-based pro­tein is a great way to fuel fit­ness pro­grams, but there’s a lin­ger­ing myth that it may not be as ef­fec­tive as the an­i­mal-based ver­sion. “Peo­ple don’t think you can be toned and have mus­cle on your body with plant pro­tein,” says Tim McCom­sey, RD, fit­ness trainer, founder of TRYM Fit in Dal­las, and plant-food fan. Take one look at him, and you know that no­tion is a myth.

In fact, re­search that di­rectly com­pared an­i­mal and plant pro­tein pow­ders found they equally ef­fec­tive in con­junc­tion with strength train­ing. The study, done at the Univer­sity of Tampa and pub­lished in Nu­tri­tion Jour­nal, com­pared whey and rice pro­tein (Oryza­tein) pow­ders and found “No de­tectable dif­fer­ences.” Dur­ing an 8-week strength train­ing pro­gram, both pro­duced equal gains in mus­cle and per­for­mance, loss of body fat, and re­duced mus­cle sore­ness when con­sumed af­ter a work­out.

Those in the study con­sumed 48 grams of ei­ther whey or rice pro­tein daily.


For fit­ness and over­all health, there’s more to plant pro­tein than just match­ing whey or other an­i­mal foods. “Plant pro­tein keeps blood more al­ka­line,” says McCom­sey, which man­i­fests as bet­ter sleep and more energy. “It keeps you more youth­ful,” he says. “And the more energy you have, the fur­ther you’ll walk and the more you can do in a work­out.”


Al­though “plant-based” is some­times used to de­scribe a diet de­void of an­i­mal foods, this isn’t what it means. A base is a foundation, and swap­ping plant food in place of some an­i­mal sources has an al­ka­liz­ing ef­fect, which can im­prove energy and over­all well-be­ing in as lit­tle as a few days. In con­trast, meat (es­pe­cially red and pro­cessed meats), al­co­hol, and cof­fee have an acid­i­fy­ing ef­fect.

If an­i­mal pro­tein is a sta­ple in each of your meals, aim to re­place it with plant pro­tein at one or two of those, sug­gests McCom­sey, who still eats some an­i­mal-based foods, such as eggs, chicken, and turkey. Here are some ex­am­ples of how he switched to a more plant-based diet:

BREAK­FAST: Tofu in­stead of eggs, and oat­meal LUNCH: Tofu or tem­peh in­stead of poul­try, with brown rice. DIN­NER: Eats some an­i­mal pro­tein, such as eggs, poul­try, or fish, with veg­eta­bles. SNACKS: Shake made with plant pro­tein pow­der in­stead of whey.


For the best re­sults from work­outs, McCom­sey rec­om­mends:

Get about 1 gram of pro­tein per pound of body weight. To sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove fit­ness level and body com­po­si­tion, do weight train­ing and car­dio four or five times per week, and three times weekly for main­te­nance. Go high-low in­ten­sity for the most ef­fec­tive car­dio work­outs.

Ex­am­ples of high-low in­ten­sity could be sprint­ing at your top speed on the straight por­tion of a track and walk­ing slowly around the curves, for a to­tal of 15 to 20 min­utes. Or on a street, sprint from one lamp­post to the next, and walk past

the next two lamp­posts. On a tread­mill or el­lip­ti­cal ma­chine, vary speed and/or re­sis­tance, with 30 sec­onds at your high­est in­ten­sity and one or two min­utes at low in­ten­sity.

Most im­por­tant, be con­sis­tent. “Most peo­ple don’t like to work out,” says McCom­sey, “but if you push your­self enough to see re­sults, you’ll feel bet­ter and be more mo­ti­vated.” Ul­ti­mately, reg­u­lar ex­er­cise and a nu­tri­tious way of eat­ing should be­come life­long habits, but to be re­al­is­tic, aim to stick with a pro­gram for three months—long enough for new habits to de­velop—and then set a new goal. Start by in­clud­ing work­outs in your planned sched­ule.

Most peo­ple tend to ex­er­cise too lit­tle rather than too much, but it’s also pos­si­ble to overdo it, so lis­ten to your body. Ex­haus­tion and shrink­ing mus­cle mass, de­spite reg­u­lar work­outs, may be signs of over­train­ing.

A strong, lean body is a prod­uct of both diet and ex­er­cise: 80 per­cent nu­tri­tion and 20 per­cent move­ment.

The bet­ter your diet, the more pro­nounced the ben­e­fits of your fit­ness train­ing.

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