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By Heidi K. Strickler, MS, RD, CSSD, METS I, ISAK 1

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist

Mon Jun 24, 2019

“Where do you get your protein?”

This is likely the most annoying question a plant-based athlete receives from meat-eating acquaintances. The assumption that animal-based foods are the only protein source is a timeless and global misconception. In fact: 

  • One cup of cooked broccoli or spinach has as much protein as a medium egg (6 grams)
  • Spirulina, a blue-green algae, is the most protein-dense food on the planet by weight
  • 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds have equal protein (10 grams) to ½ cup Greek yogurt, plus 6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids

In the United States, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, this recommendation is meant to simply maintain basic bodily functions, and daily protein intake should be higher for most people. Research shows that endurance athletes need approximately 50% more protein than their sedentary counterparts (1), or 1.2 – 2.0g/kg protein daily, depending on training phase, weight goals, diet, gender, and age (2). Females, vegans and those looking to lose fat and gain lean muscle fall toward the higher end. 

This excerpt was originally published on June 24, 2019 by USA Triathlon. To read the article in its entirety, read it on the USAT site here.


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