Weight Training and Protein

Question (from a woman who is not larger than average):

I have been vegan for over a year now and recently started to exercise on a regular basis! My personal trainer has told me that I need to significantly increase my protein intake. She wants me to get to close to 100 g of protein per day! I have been logging what I have been eating and have been finding my protein intake to be between 40 g and 60 g. How much plant-based protein is safe/healthy for me to eat? Is my trainer asking to much of me to get 100g of protein per day?

Answer:

Unless you are training to be a competitive bodybuilder, 100 g of protein is much more than you need. I would suggest getting a vegetarian protein powder (natural foods stores will have them) and making one drink (smoothie, or just putting it in soymilk and blending it) per day with a couple tablespoons of the powder. That will boost your protein intake by about 20 g which is plenty for someone who is starting a weightlifting program. That way, you can tell your trainer you’re increasing your protein intake, but without going to 100 g. Once your muscles are where you want them, you can probably drop the protein supplement and maintain them at that level with just normal foods.

4 Responses to “Weight Training and Protein”

  1. Marissa Says:

    Hi Jack,

    I appreciate the information you post on your blog regarding Vegan nutrition. I find it immensely objective, educational and compassionate.

    I am in a similar situation as the woman who asked about increasing protein needs. Since I am a sports/fitness model, I was told also to increase my protein needs.

    However, I subscribe to the ‘vegan whole food’ concept. My diet is composed of 98% unadulterated real food. I keep my daily diet ratio high in fruits/vegetables, legumes and nuts/seeds. My daily consumption of whole grains (quinoa, buckwheat groats, amanranth) is on a moderate side with less emphasis on starchier grains like brown rice.

    I have a question if I may:

    How can I increase my protein profile while keeping my carbs on the moderate side without resorting to protein supplements?

    I can only consume 1 serving of soy food per my doctor’s advice due to family estrogen history. Unfortunately, I dislike seitan. Overall, I am okay with wheat, but cannot consume a large amount of it. I don’t like protein supplements, as I’d rather eat real food. Do you have any suggestion on how to increase the protein profile in my situation?

    My trainer also wants to make sure I meet my daily “complete protein” profile. He is worried about my carb content due to the fact that I tend to put on body fat when the carb content is higher. The mainstream Vegan diet guide like other non-Vegan diet guides, in my humble opinion, needs to be taylored to Vegan athletes for their various goals. I am just not sure how to approach it correctly at this point.

    I have read Robert Cheeke’s Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness. Unfortunately, I find the information useful, but not applicable in my situation. First of all, he tends to be supplement-heavy. Second of all, my goal is to increase lean muscle mass and reduce body fat percentage, and not to compete as a bodybuilder.

    Any insight from you is greatly appreciated. I am a budding Vegan and wish to set myself as an example to others.

    Best regards,
    Marissa

  2. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Marissa,

    Thanks for your kind words!

    > I can only consume 1 serving of soy food per my doctor’s advice due to family estrogen history.

    Is that because of a history of breast cancer?

    > Do you have any suggestion on how to increase the protein profile in my situation?

    The more legumes (including peanuts) you consume, the higher your % of protein will go. So, replace some fruit and vegetables with more legumes.

    I hope that helps.

    Jack

  3. Marissa Says:

    Hi Jack,

    Thank you for your response.

    Yes, a couple of my female relatives have some breast health issues. Therefore, to err on the cautious side, I was advised to keep soy consumption low.

    I have devoured tons of health journals related to Veganism. I will check out Vegan for Life. I am compassionate about this path I am choosing.

    Thanks again for taking the time out to respond to my question.

    Marissa

  4. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Marissa,

    Up to 2 servings a day of soy has been shown to be protective or neutral for breast cancer. You might want to check out the section on breast cancer from my article Soy: What’s the Harm?

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