In today’s busy world, sticking with a vegetarian or vegan diet can be a major challenge. Not only are you constantly faced with the (often annoying) question of why you’ve decided not to eat meat and/or animal products, but you also have to carefully examine everything you put on your plate to make sure it’s consistent with your dietary commitments. At the same time, you also have to pay attention to one of the most significant potential health implications of a vegetarian or vegan diet–namely, the possibility that you might not be getting enough protein. One convenient solution is a functional food supplement. Read on to learn more about the protein-packed functional foods and how they can fit in with your vegetarian or vegan diet and your on-the-go lifestyle.
The Benefits of Protein-Containing Functional Foods for Vegetarian and Vegan Eaters
More than ever, vegetarians and vegans are looking to functional foods as useful protein supplements to a healthy, meat-free (and/or animal-product-free) diet. Whether you’re a busy parent, working professional, or college student, you probably don’t have the time to labor over time-consuming recipes and try to calculate whether or not they actually contain enough protein to support your health needs. In fact, you might even be struggling to wake up early enough to make your own lunch in the morning before rushing to the office or to class! However, it’s always easy toss a scoop of a powdered functional food into a plastic bag or smoothie container and mix it with water when you need a pick-me-up that will keep you feeling full throughout the day–which can also allow you take advantage of the weight management benefits that are commonly associated with vegetarian and vegan diets. Plus, with a powdered functional food, you always know how much protein you’re getting, making it far less likely that you’ll end up getting too little.
A powdered functional food can also serve as a meal supplement after you eat out at a restaurant that isn’t vegetarian- or vegan-friendly. If you find yourself at a business lunch where the only thing on the menu that suits your diet is a garden salad, a powdered functional food can help you get through the rest of the day. Because the powder is shelf-stable, you can even store it at your desk for emergencies. Similarly, if you come home from a dinner out and are still starving because there were so few vegetarian or vegan options on the menu, a protein-containing functional food is a great choice. Unlike high-carb desserts, a protein-packed functional food won’t keep you awake at night. The protein in the functional food can even help speed your metabolism while you sleep.
Choosing a Functional Food with High-Quality Protein
When it comes to functional foods for vegans and vegetarians, not all products are created equal. There are several specific types of protein that you want to look for when you are scanning the ingredient list:
- Pea Protein. Pea protein is particularly high in two key amino acids: lysine (which helps you maintain lean body mass) and arginine (which helps you build muscle mass and burn fat). Of all the proteins on the market today, pea protein is the highest in arginine, and it also has a higher lysine concentration than all other vegetable-based powdered protein options
- Whey Protein. Obviously, whey protein is only a great choice for vegetarians–steer clear if you’re on a vegan diet! However, as we discussed in a previous post, you want to make sure you choose a whey protein option that is hormone-free, since additives like rBGH and rBST can interfere with the beneficial activities of whey protein in your body. Because these hormones are ubiquitous in dairy products in the United States, look for functional foods with whey protein imported from countries like New Zealand, which has banned the use of hormone additives in the dairy industry.
- Rice Protein. Rice protein is another great option for vegans, especially if you’re looking for a low-fat protein source. You can often find rice protein alongside pea protein in functional food supplements.
Creative Ways to Integrate Powdered Functional Foods Into Your Diet
Even when you’re short on time, mixing the powder with water and drinking it isn’t the only way to get a functional food into your diet. Here are a few other options that can shake up your diet without requiring much prep time:
- Mix it into your morning oatmeal. This can boost the flavor and the nutritional content of your morning go-to.
- Flavor your fruit- or veggie-based shake. Smoothies taste great, but they can get old if you’re on a vegetarian or vegan diet. A scoop of chocolate- or vanilla-flavored functional food powder can help you keep things interesting.
- Thicken your soup. Adding a scoop of protein powder to a pumpkin or squash soup can add thickness and contribute to the depth of flavor.
Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers functional foods that can fit into your vegetarian or vegan diet, and our chiropractors can offer nutritional counseling to help you make sure you’re getting enough protein. Contact us today for more information!Share