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An athletically active lifestyle or even intensive weight training in combination with a vegan diet – the myth of insufficient protein supply quickly comes to mind. Not only do prominent role models show how plant-based foods can optimally support the body during athletic activities, but some nutrition societies also advocate this stance. But how many grams of protein do you need per kilogram of body weight? And which proteins are particularly suitable and cover the daily requirement of the essential amino acid lysine?

With this article we provide you all the important information on the subject of vegan protein supply in sports and make you fit for your everyday nutrition.

Vegan sports nutrition - How a good protein supply succeeds

gut durchtrainierte Frau von hinten im schwarzem Sport Bh und blonden Haaren

Popular sport vs. competitive sport

First of all must be distinguished between active peoplewho do sport in their free time about four to five times a week and less than one hour a day and Competitive athletes can be distinguished. The latter have a large training workload, take part in competitions and accordingly have different demands on the nutrients supplied. The Thus, additional requirements generally depend on the type of sport, intensity, duration, frequency, and any competitive phases depending.

Why does the body need proteins at all?

Along with carbohydrates and fats, proteins belong to the macronutrients. They provide the body with important Amino acidswhich serve as building blocks for new proteins. Eight of the 20 amino acids in total are considered essential – the body cannot produce them itself and we must supply them through food.

Proteins are involved in numerous processes in the human body. We would like to present you an overview of the main functions here.

Muscle movement

Myosins and actins ensure the contraction of muscles and thus make movements possible.

Defense and protection

Antibodies are important for immune function and serve to defend against infections.


Enzymes such as amylase or pepsin are involved in metabolic processes and act as biocatalysts. They can accelerate biochemical reactions in the body.

Energy supplier

In the starvation state, for example, proteins stored in the muscles can be used for energy production. They can provide up to four kilocalories of energy per gram of protein.


We also owe the stability and strength of bones, tendons, hair or nails to proteins. Important representatives are collagen and keratin.


Proteins bind, for example, hormones, fatty acids, oxygen or even iron to transport them in the bloodstream.

How much protein do we need daily?

German Nutrition Society (DGE)
recommends that adults of normal weight, including those who regularly engage in recreational sports, consume a daily intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

According to the DGE, infants, children and adolescents, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people over the age of 65 have an increased need. Also
Competitive athletes
an increased intake of 1.2 – 2.0 g/kg body weight/day. is recommended.

Are vegan living people sufficiently supplied with proteins?

A safety margin is already included in the above recommendations, nevertheless some publications recommend a slightly increased intake of 0.9 – 1.0 g/kg body weight/day in the case of a vegan diet (Rittenau, 2019). In this way, the lower digestibility as well as the lower biological value of vegetable proteins can be compensated. Apart from that, however: If sufficient calories are consumed, the protein requirement is usually also met.

All three recommendations, i.e., 0.8, 0.9, and 1.0 g/kg body weight/day, can be easily implemented by a purely vegan diet (Rittenau, 2019). According to the DGE, it is also important to remember that the consumption of plant-based protein sources is usually accompanied by a higher intake of fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins and phytochemicals, as well as a lower consumption of saturated fats. This can have a positive effect on health.

Can you build muscle vegan?

Yes! This is shown not only by well-known vegan athletes such as Patrik Baboumian or Ralf Möller, but also by position papers such as that of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics(AND).

In competitive sports, however, it is not only important to ensure a sufficient intake, but also an optimal protein supply.

In addition to selecting appropriate foods, it is beneficial to evenly distribute protein intake over three to four meals throughout the day. In addition, care must be taken to ensure an adequate supply of energy from whole plant foods, as the requirement is increased during vigorous physical activity.

Protein rich vegan food

The selection of protein-rich vegan foods is large and just as diverse should also be designed the daily menu.

A particularly high protein content have Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, peanuts, flax seeds, sunflower seeds or almonds on. However, since these are not consumed in large quantities, represent Tofu, tempeh and other soy products, oatmeal, lentils, chickpeas or whole grains are other important sources of protein. As already mentioned, all these foods provide not only valuable proteins, but also other health-promoting ingredients and thus contribute to a balanced vegan diet.

Legumes should definitely be soaked and cooked or sprouted before consumption to reduce the phytic acid they contain. This forms complexes with minerals from food such as zinc or calcium, which are then no longer available to the body. Through this Preparation methods digestibility is also improved (Rittenau, 2019).

The problem with the limiting amino acid

Another important point to ensure an optimal protein supply is the combination of different protein sources. Animal proteins are similar in amino acid composition to human requirements, but plant protein sources are considered “incomplete” because one amino acid is often present in lower concentrations. This is called “limiting amino acid” and determines how well the human body can utilize the ingested protein. However, this in no way means that animal sources of protein must necessarily be consumed. Rather, it is a matter of sensible combination of vegan foods, so that the amino acids complement each other. and in this way the so-called biological value increases (Rittenau, 2019).

It is not absolutely necessary to consume all essential amino acids within one meal – spread over the day is perfectly sufficient. Some traditional dishes like fried rice with tofu, hummus from chickpeas with pita bread or kidney beans with corn in chili however, already intuitively combine the right foods. Cereals contain little of the essential amino acid lysine, legumes are rich in lysine. So the combination is a real dream team!

weiße Oberfläche mit einem runden Teller auf dem gewürfeltes Tofu liegt, daneben Soja Bohnen verstreut

A little tip if you need to go fast: The
even without a combination with other vegetable protein sources. a balanced amino acid profile and is similar in biological value to the hen’s egg. This makes soy a excellent source of proteinwhich can be consumed in numerous forms such as soy drink, tofu or tempeh.

Protein powder and other supplements

Shake Becher mit schwarzem Deckel der zugeschraubt wird. Im Shake befindet sich ein lila farbener Shake, daneben liegen Bananen

According to
a supplementation Supplementing protein intake with supplements is not necessary and a balanced diet is usually the better choice. However, can Protein shakes and co. make everyday nutrition easierotherwise not enough protein or calories are consumed.

Vegan protein powders are available, for example, based on peas, soybeans, rice, almonds or a combination of these foods. When buying, also look for other ingredients such as micronutrients, flavor enhancers or added sugar.

Grüner Tisch auf dem verschiedene Blister mit Tabletten liegen. Tabletten liegen in einer weißen Schale und durcheinander auf dem Tisch

In the fitness sector there are numerous other supplementswhich are available over the counter. The problem here is that for some nutrients, such as the fat-soluble vitamins, also a oversupply is possible is.

If you are unsure, talk to your doctor or nutritionist to determine the appropriate dosage for your individual needs. Rely only on scientifically proven effects and question advertising promises twice.

Regardless of this must
vitamin B12
must be supplemented with vegan nutrition and Vitamin D is recommended during the winter months. Actual care should be determined annually by a physician’s Blood count should be checked.

How you can further support muscle building

In addition to a balanced and varied diet and a good training plan, one important factor for muscle building should not be forgotten: Sufficient sleep. To regenerate the stressed muscle fibers after a strenuous training session, we need the Recovery phases during the night. In addition, growth hormones released during sleep promote the formation of new proteins in the body.

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