WHy Plant-Based Protein // 5 ways to add it to your meal plan

protein: it’s about SO much more than just building muscle. protein as a staple in your daily meals & snacks helps stabilize your blood sugar levels, which in turn helps regulate mood, the nervous system & assists in weight management¹

psychology behind protein in your diet  //

protein = happiness

Come again?! That’s right folks, protein isn’t just about building muscles. It’s crucial for neurotransmitter production that impacts your mood.

The neurotransmitter serotonin is believed to be involved in the neurophysiology of depression². Serotonin is made from the amino acid L-Tryptophan, which is found in the protein we eat³. L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid. That means it cannot be made by the body & therefore the only way to obtain it is via our diet. Thus, we can impact serotonin production, & as a result our moods, through our diet.

It’s important to understand that some non-essential amino acids can in fact become essential amino acids. Non-essential amino acids are those which the body is capable of producing. However, just because the body is capable of producing a non-essential amino acid, doesn’t mean that it’s going to do so at any given time. Under such conditions, metabolic deficiencies can result & what’s generally a non-essential amino acid then becomes an essential amino acid for that individual. To avoid such an imbalance, it’s suggested people take a supplement that contains a mixture of essential & nonessential amino acids.

For more info on the psychology behind food+mood, inquire about meeting with our Psychologist Sally Powis-Campbell.

plant-based protein  //

Okay, so we get the gist that protein is important — not only for healthy bodies, but also healthy minds. That’s our mantra, after all: whole minds + whole foods + whole bodies.

Often when we think of protein, we think of a big slab of beef or a massive chicken breast (not quite suitable for the vegetarians or vegans out there). While animal protein is a complete protein (meaning that it’s a food that includes all essential amino acids), we CAN get adequate protein without meat (it’s time to go green people). No you aren’t imagining things, you read correctly: plants can also be powerhouses of protein so long as you understand how to combine plant sources to yield high-quality proteins (who’s ready to build some muscle?).

sources of plant-based protein  //  our fave 5

Vegan Protein Powder  ProteinPowder
WHy  //  Plant-based protein powder is an easy way to sneak protein into your diet. We particularly love the product Vega offers, as it’s Canadian, gluten-free, non-GMO, certified vegan, & made without dairy, soy, artificial flavors, colors & sweeteners.
How  //  Add to your morning smoothie, bowl of oats, or mix with almond milk for a mid-aft snack!
Where  //  Local health food stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, or fitness centres like 2110 Fitness.

Chia Seedschia seeds
WHy  //  Chia seeds are the highest plant-based  source of omega-3 fatty acids. Also, because they absorb so much water, becoming somewhat gelatinous, they can help prevent dehydration if prepared correctly! They are a source of iron, calcium, zinc & antioxidants.
How  //  Make chia pudding with almond milk that you leave in the fridge for at least 12 hrs, add to your water bottle you sip on through the day, or add to smoothies, oats & salads.
Where  //  Pick up at any health food store, or save $ by buying in bulk at Costco Wholesale.

Ground Flaxseedground flaxseed
WHy  //  Flax is a rich source of  alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, & contains soluble fibre which promotes good intestinal health.
How  //  Make sure your flaxseed is ground, as this is the only way your body will garner it’s nutritional benefits (your gut can’t break down the coating). Sprinkle onto your morning oats, add to homemade cookies or muffins, stir into a smoothie, or add flax oil to salad dressing.
Where  //  Pick up at any health food store, or save $ by buying in bulk at Costco Wholesale.

Hemp Seedshemp seeds
WHy  //  This Canadian superfood contains all 9 essential amino acids & is a source of magnesium, zinc, iron & calcium. As well, hemp hearts have the ideal balance of omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids.
How  //  Like other seeds, hemp seeds can be added to your morning oats, smoothies & salads.
Where  //  Pick up at any health food store, most grocery stores, or save $ by buying in bulk at Costco Wholesale.

Spirulinaspirulina powder
 //  Spirulina is an algae that consists of 65% digestible protein, plus it’s very high in iron & calcium. It’s also being researched for potential effects on the immune system, swelling or inflammation & viral infections4. Combine Spirulina with grain, oats, nuts or seeds & you’ve got yourself a complete protein!
How  //   An obvious choice of use for this source of protein is in smoothies, but we also add to our salads, quinoa dishes, raw pie & cookies. Note, it has a very strong taste, so don’t overdo it on first use!
Where  //  Pick up at Light Cellar store in Bowness, most health food stores, or online at iHerb.ca.

For more tips on how to implement plant-based proteins into your diet, or for meal planning or prep sessions, please inquire about meeting with our Health Coach, Mia Shettler.

Remember: nutrition isn’t an exact science! Each individual has a unique body chemistry & for that reason, your body will have different needs at different times. Listen to your body & nurture it with what is needs now.


¹This information is provided for interest sake only. Consult with a physician or health professional before making any changes to your diet.
²Cleare et al., 1997
³ Bender, 1982 & Fenstrom, 1983