This is the second of a two-part series on the vegan diet.
In the first video, we talked the benefits people commonly experience on a vegan diet. In this video, we’ll address some of its limitations and how to overcome them.
Low-quantity and quality protein
Vegan sources of protein provide a lot of calories alongside their protein, which can make getting an adequate amount of protein without weight gain difficult. If you’re a hard-training athlete, this may not matter because calorie requirements are really high, but most people aren’t. Moreover, the protein you do get is going to be less bioavailable due to the plant food matrix and antinutrients. Plant proteins are 60-80% absorbable, compared to >90% for animal proteins.
The solution is relatively simple: use a vegan protein powder. These provide concentrated protein to the diet that is also as bioavailable as animal proteins.
It’s commonly believed that fat-soluble vitamins are difficult to get on a vegan diet, but this isn’t really true except for vitamin A.
Vitamin E is abundant in nuts and seeds.
Vitamin D we get by simply spending some time in the sun.
Vitamin K1 is provided by plants and vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods, particularly natto (which are vegan).
For vitamin A, we use retinol, which is exclusively found in animal products. You can make retinol from beta-carotene in plants, but the conversion process can be greatly impeded with certain health conditions and polymorphisms. Theoretically, you could eat more beta-carotene to overcome these issues, but this may not be feasible for everyone and high levels of beta-carotene could pose some health risks like increasing the risk of lung and stomach cancer.
It’s commonly believed that choline isn’t easily obtainable on a vegan diet, but you can. You just need to pay more attention to your intake level. If you aren’t getting enough, choline bitartrate is a cheap vegan-friendly supplement.
Creatine, carnitine, and taurine
These zoonutrients are present only in animal products, so supplementation is a smart move. Taking 2-3 grams of carnitine, 3-5 grams of creatinine, and 3-6 grams of taurine per day can help saturate stores and ensure that methylation, energy production, and physical performance remain in top shape.
It’s commonly believed that you can’t get B12 on a vegan diet, but spirulina is a cyanobacteria that provides usable B12. You’d need about 10 grams per day. Otherwise, just supplement.
EPA & DHA
These long-chain omega-3 fatty acids can be difficult to obtain on a vegan diet since plant foods provide only their precursor (alpha-linolenic acid). The conversion of ALA to EPA is about 10-20%, and to DHA is <5%. Accordingly, you can probably obtain sufficient EPA by eating enough ALA in the diet, but taking an algae oil supplement for its preformed DHA is also wise.
Vegan diet part one can be found here.
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