You can’t deny it—snacking is a big part of all our days! It powers us through long projects, classes, and meetings. Making the right snacking choices is important, as we all want to be optimally powering our bodies. Protein and complex carbs are always go-tos, as they bring sustained energy to your body.
Many brands have been spotting plant-based snacking as a sustainable and nutritious alternative to the usual snacking suspects. But is plant-based snacking really good for you?
What’s the big deal with protein?
For starters, every cell in the human body contains protein. Per recommendation, 10%-35% of a healthy adult’s daily caloric intake should include protein since the body doesn’t store it. Protein is especially important because it provides amino acids that are absolutely essential to maintain good health. Amino acids are found in animal sources (think: meat, milk, fish, and eggs) and plant sources (shout-out soybeans, legumes, nuts, and grains). Overall, a protein-rich diet is necessary to repair cells and create new ones. Additionally, it helps the body develop and grow!
What’s the difference between protein from plants vs. protein from animals anyway?
Animal protein is considered a “complete” source since it contains all the essential amino acids. On the other hand, plant proteins are more often referred to as “incomplete” sources since they tend to lack certain essential amino acids.
Before naming one source better than the other, it’s important to take a look at the big picture. Both sources of proteins have their pros and cons (as do most foods)! Animal-based proteins may contain some aspects you try to minimize in your diet, like saturated fat and cholesterol, while plant-based protein requires you utilize multiple sources to achieve a “complete” amino acid profile. Despite containing so-called “incomplete” sources of protein, diets rich in plant protein have been linked to several health benefits, such as lower body weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
So, is plant-based snacking good for you?
Yes! Plant-based proteins are packed with antioxidants, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Here are our top 3 reasons that plant-based snacking is good for you:
1. Easier to digest
Some favor animal-based protein due to its “complete” profile, but that does mean more work for your body when it comes to breaking it all down. Plant protein (such as spinach or romaine lettuce) is easily absorbed and contains ready-to-use amino acids. It’s easier to digest and can be directed towards healing muscles post-workout. Added bonus: you’ll be left with more energy for tomorrow’s workout!
2. It’s good for your health AND the environment
A recent review of dietary guidelines conducted by the U.S. and U.K. found that our diets are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Agricultural emissions alone are thought to make up 30% of global emissions, with livestock responsible for half of these. Researchers believe eating more fruits and veggies (like your parents always told you) is healthier and ultimately more sustainable.
3. Options on options
Nuts: keep you full and promote weight loss.
Beans: allow you to incorporate nutrients like fiber, calcium, and potassium that are otherwise often missing from American diets. Fun fact: beans are so nutritious that the DGA recommended increasing weekly intake from 1 to 3 cups.
Can’t forget vegetables, legumes, seeds, grains, and supplements!
In the end, both animal- and plant-based snacking can help you reach your goals! It’s all about balance and finding what works for you.
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