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Plant Based protein- what you need to know!

By Dr. Crionna Tobin, Phd, Optimum Nutrition, Head of Nutrition & Education

Key Learnings

  • Technically, all plants contain protein, which when eaten in varying amounts and combinations provide the body with similar benefits to animal-based protein sources.

  • Plant-based proteins are generally incomplete or missing one or more of the essential amino acids which are needed to best support the many roles of protein within the body.

  • Eating a variety of plant-based foods daily allows protein sources to be combined, providing the body with the essential amino acids it requires to support health and performance. 

  • It may be more challenging to hit daily protein goals through a plant-based diet as they are lower in protein compared to similar servings of animal-based foods.

  • Gold Standard 100% plant protein provides a convenient way to get 24g of quality plant protein into your day, to support your daily protein and muscle goals.

  • To learn more on this topical trend keep reading!

Over the last decade plant-based eating has become a Global trend. Many people choose a casual approach to increasing plants in their diet by swapping meat for quinoa or beans. While others choose to cut out many animal-based products as vegetarian or completely as hardcore vegans. 

Whatever your plant-based eating preferences, this article will help you understand, the best sources of plant protein, the differences between plant and animal protein and the benefits of eating plant-based protein foods to support your health and performance. Firstly, lets recap on the benefits of eating protein.

What is plant protein?

Plant protein is simply protein found in plants, such as, grains, legumes, nuts and seed. The benefits of which are the same as animal protein. It’s main role in the body is to maintain its cellular structure- every cell in the body is made up from protein from your, hair, skin, nails, organs, bones and muscle. Protein is also needed to support a healthy immune system, proper hormone and enzyme production and much more. While it also plays a role in providing essential building blocks to the muscle to support its repair and recovery after exercise. To ensure the body stays healthy, your muscles, bones and tissues need to get enough protein every day. 

Is there a difference between animal and plant protein?

This is an important question to understand to ensure you are eating high quality protein to support your health and performance goals. The main difference between animal and plant-based protein sources is their protein quality.

Protein is made up of 21 long chains of amino acids, which are joined together in different sequences. Each protein has a different amount, type and combination of amino acids depending on what it is and how it works. Animal based proteins are known as high quality complete protein sources as they contain all 21 amino acids. Most plant-based proteins are lower in quality, as they are missing one or more amino acid and are therefore referred to as incomplete protein sources. This means that we must combine different sources of plant-based proteins to get a complete amino acid profile.

However, somehow, even before we had this scientific knowledge, there was Global recognition that combining plant-based protein sources such as a grain and a legume is better for optimal protein function. This is why in different parts of the Globe different tasty combinations of plant-based protein sources are a tradition, red beans and rice in the Caribbean, corn and black beans in South America and soy and rice in Asia. Some other delicious combinations include.

1.     Lentils and quinoa

2.     Peanut butter and whole grain bread

3.     Tofu and brown rice

4.     Hummus and whole grain pita

Simply eating a variety of plant-based foods daily will ensure you are successfully combining plant-based proteins to provide the body with high quality protein sources.

Where can I find high amount of plant protein?

Plant protein can be found in all plant-based foods; however, you should focus on eating plant sources that are high in protein to ensure you are hitting your daily protein recommendations.

However, the amount of protein in plant-based food sources is lower per serving compared to animal foods. This simply means that you need to eat more plant-based protein foods, particularly if you are a vegan, to reach your daily protein goals. Check out the list below to understand how much protein is found in a serving of the most common plant-based foods.

Should I take a plant protein shake?

Hitting your daily protein targets can be challenging, particularly when those targets are high due to training demands, or you are trying to hit those goals with plant foods alone. In this instance a plant protein shake is a convenient way to add high quality protein to your diet. Gold Standard 100% plant protein contains a blend of high-quality pea and rice protein, making it a complete protein source and perfect to support your muscle. This is great choice if you want to reduce your intake of protein from an animal-sources and don’t want to compromise on the quality of your protein.

Practical Messages to Share with Friends

  1. Plant-based foods, such as, grains, legumes and soy, are a rich source of protein.

  2. Combining different sources of plant-based foods provides the body with a high-quality complete protein source to support health and performance goals.

  3. Be mindful of your what plant-based foods you choose as they are lower in protein compared to similar servings of animal-based foods.

  4. Choose plant-based foods that are high in protein to hit your daily protein recommendations.

  5. Gold Standard 100% plant protein provides 24g of high-quality complete protein and is a convenient option to help support your muscle.


  1. Kerksick, C.M., Jagim, A., Hagele, A. and Jäger, R., 2021. Plant proteins and exercise: what role can plant proteins have in promoting adaptations to exercise?. Nutrients, 13(6), p.1962.

  2. Hevia-Larraín, V., Gualano, B., Longobardi, I., Gil, S., Fernandes, A.L., Costa, L.A., Pereira, R.M., Artioli, G.G., Phillips, S.M. and Roschel, H., 2021. High-protein plant-based diet versus a protein-matched omnivorous diet to support resistance training adaptations: a comparison between habitual vegans and omnivores. Sports Medicine, 51, pp.1317-133