Powered by plants: Here’s how to get enough plant-based protein into your diet as a runner - Women's Running

Powered by plants: Here’s how to get enough plant-based protein into your diet as a runner

Author: Holly Taylor

Read Time:   |  February 10, 2022

We get some expert advice on stocking up on plant-based protein sources

Whether you’re a full-time vegan, part-time ‘flexitarian’, or a meat-eater, one of the most common questions that arises among runners is how to get enough protein into your diet. This can feel particularly difficult if you follow a plant-based diet, but thankfully it doesn’t have to be. Protein is key for recovery and building a strong body for running, so it’s important to be conscious about how much protein you are eating. Here are five of the best sources of plant-based protein for runners with tips on how to incorporate them into your diet.

1. Soy protein

Soy is considered the most popular and most widely recognised plant-based protein source. Tempeh and tofu are made from soy and are super versatile for inclusion in all sorts of recipes. Soy has been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular-related diseases and can improve bone health – ideal for runners.

If you’re not a huge fan of the taste of soy-based foods, another easy way to get it into your diet is with supplements such as protein shakes. Supplementing your diet as a vegan is an important consideration, as a fully plant-based diet can be found lacking in some nutrients such as Vitamins B12 and D.

Taking a daily supplement such as a protein shake with added vitamins is an excellent way to not only boost your protein intake, but also to make sure you’re getting all of the micronutrients you need to stay healthy and well.

2. Beans and pulses

Beans and pulses are nature’s bounty when it comes to plant-based protein and are perfect for using as the base of a plant-based meal. Some of the best, most nutrient-dense beans and pulses include lentils (around 9g of protein per 100g), chickpeas (7g of protein per 100g), and beans (between 7-10g of protein per 100g).

Some tasty and wholesome plant-based recipes that use beans and pulses as the main protein source include vegan chilli (utilising kidney beans) and vegan curry (utilising chickpeas), and recipes like this will help you to naturally and effortlessly increase your daily vegetable intake too – a win win!

Check out our tops tips for vegan nutrition.

3. Quinoa

Quinoa has enjoyed a rise in popularity as plant-based awareness gains traction. It’s easy and versatile and makes the perfect base for fresh, tasty salads. Quinoa provides around 8g of protein per 100g and is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids – which is a huge bonus when following a fully plant-based diet. Quinoa is also packed with micronutrients such as magnesium and calcium, ideal for keeping you healthy throughout your run training.

4. Oats

When it comes to what to eat before running, oats and oatmeal often come top of the list. If you were to ask 100 runners what they eat for breakfast, chances are most of them would say porridge/oatmeal. You may not think of oats as a food with high protein as they are more commonly thought of as a source of complex carbs for slow-release energy. However, oats also contain 10g of protein per 100g, which will set you up for a successful day and provide excellent run fuel if you’re having them for breakfast.

5. Buckwheat

Buckwheat is probably the least common or well-known food on our list, and is a grain-like seed, although not related to the wheat you may be thinking of. Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free and is rich in minerals and antioxidants. It provides up to 13g of protein per 100g as well as lots of fibre – great for digestive health.

Some of the easiest ways to add buckwheat into your diet are to add it to porridge, stir into salads, or you can even use it to make your own protein pancakes.

Written by

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor is the digital editor of Women’s Running and co-host of the Women’s Running podcast, where she shares her running journey as well as the inspiring stories of women runners all over the country. She’s never been the sporty type, but running is the first time she’s felt real joy in getting active. She loves talking about running with a community of inclusive and supportive runners, and Women's Running is the perfect space for this. She's currently aiming for a half marathon PB!

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