Person stretching on a track next to weights and a Sunflower Cinnamon Rise Bar

The Power of Plant-Protein for Athletes

Aug 18, 2020Rise Bar Team

Should you eat more plant protein if you’re not a plant-based athlete or following a plant-based diet?

The answer is a resounding yes!

Plant-based protein delivers incredible health benefits for athletes and anyone else trying to lose weight, gain muscle, and feel their best.

So we’ll get into how they work and share our favorite vegan protein sources in this quick guide.

Person stretching on track next to weights and a Sunflower Cinnamon Rise Bar

The Top 3 Health Benefits of Plant-Based Protein for Athletes

If you’re a fan of our blog, you know there are tons of reasons to switch to a plant-based diet for better health.

Even if you’re not 100% on the vegan train, you can still score these plant-based benefits by making a few easy swaps and additions.

You can join the Meatless Monday trend, for example. Or you can substitute whey protein for pea protein isolate a few times a week.

You’ll notice a serious difference in your game thanks to these three vegan protein benefits:

1. Boosted Energy Levels and Athletic Performance

In our article comparing whey protein to plant-based protein, we highlighted why pea protein isolate is our favorite.

Small yet mighty peas are packed with lysine, an essential amino acid your body can’t make and must get from your diet. Though amino acids are most known for helping you build protein and muscle, lysine also facilitates carnitine.

Carnitine transports and converts fatty acids in your system into usable energy molecules. This means pea protein helps you burn fat and gain more energy.

Plus, peas are loaded with iron. Reaching your iron goal boosts energy levels, and can help maximize your athletic performance -- a double whammy.

2. Improved Weight Loss and Muscle Gains

A plant-based protein like pea protein isolate is fantastic when it comes to reshaping your body composition.

Peas are bursting with branch chain amino acids (BCAAs), which your body needs to pack on muscle. As those muscles grow, your body will get lean and toned up.

If weight loss is your goal, adding muscle mass will help you burn more calories at rest to reach your ideal weight sooner. The fiber in peas will also support your weight loss efforts.

Fiber keeps you feeling fuller longer (to prevent snacking on extra calories). It also keeps your digestion on track so you’re not backed up or bloated. You’ll perform better and notice more scale victories.

These perks all increase your chances of seeing your muscles and hard work finally paying off.

3. Muscle Recovery and Repair

Those same amino acids are an excellent fuel source your body will use to repair and rebuild muscles after a long sweat sesh.

So noshing a pea protein bar post-workout, for example, may help boost muscle growth, decrease muscle soreness, and make it less painful to hit the gym the next day.

You can see why this perk is so beneficial in both the short- and long-term. But don’t just take our word for it.

Here’s What Plant-Based Athletes Have to Say About Using Alternative Protein Sources

When plant-based athletes describe their favorite vegan protein benefits, they always mention these three advantages:

More energy review

Complete protein review

Build lean muscle review

For more health benefits of plant-based protein, check out this guide when you’re done here.

Now that you know why plant-based protein makes the cut, you should include more plant-based protein sources in your diet. Lentils, nuts, hemp seeds, and protein-rich veggies (like peas, spinach, and asparagus) all work.

But the easiest option is one you’re already used to: protein bars.

Man working out outdoor with ropes

How To Find The Best Plant-Based Protein Bars for Athletes

The quickest, cleanest way to add more high-quality vegan protein to your diet is with a plant-based protein bar.

However, just because pea protein makes up the primary protein source doesn’t automatically mean you’ve found a healthy bar.

The best vegan protein bars contain:

  • Pea protein isolate, which provides all the plant-based health benefits discussed earlier. Look for bars with 10–20g of protein, depending on your macro needs.
  • Less than five whole-food ingredients. You should be able to identify and pronounce every ingredient on the nutrition label. The fewer, the better!
  • Zero artificial sweeteners. Ditch the sugar alcohols and suspect preservatives disguised as flavorings. Natural extracts, spices, and coconut nectar have more flavor, and they’re better for you. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend too much time researching delicious options that check all these boxes (and more!).

Take a shortcut and use this roundup of our top plant-based protein bars for athletes here:

1. Lemon Cashew Protein Bar

Plant-based protein bar, Lemon Cashew Rise Bar

Our yummy Lemon Cashew plant-based protein bar explodes with refreshing citrus flavor and creamy cashews. It contains 15g of protein and just four simple ingredients (including pea protein isolate). You won’t find any artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols lurking inside either.

These bars are vegan, non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free, and certified Kosher, making them ideal for more than athletes following a plant-based diet.

2. Chocolatey Coconut Protein Bar

Plant-based protein bar, Chocolatey Coconut Rise Bar

If chocolate is more your jam, give our decadent Chocolatey Coconut plant-based protein bar a go. Fans say it tastes more like dessert than a protein bar -- but it delivers 15g of protein with just five simple, whole-food ingredients.

This makes a satisfying snack that feels like a reward, combats cravings, and helps you stay on track to reach your fitness goals.

3. Sunflower Cinnamon Protein Bar

Plant-based protein bar, Sunflower Cinnamon Rise Bar

Our Sunflower Cinnamon plant-based protein bar makes a killer option if you’re looking for a nut-free protein bar. We use creamy sunflower butter with a hint of vanilla instead of cashews or almonds.

This bar contains just five wholesome ingredients and adds 15g of protein to your day, whether you’re fueling up pre- or post-workout.

Enjoy Plant-Based Protein for Athletes Today

Athletes know there’s a direct correlation between what goes into your body and what comes out. Switching to a plant-based diet or simply adding more plant-based protein may propel you closer to your health and fitness goals.

Not only will you reap the incredible health benefits mentioned earlier, but you’ll also give your digestion a nice break from meat and whey protein, which can improve your gut and reduce inflammation.

So which plant-based protein bar will you try first?

Author: Devan Ciccarelli 
Instagram/Facebook Group: @behappynothangry/Be Happy Not Hangry

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