No Meat Athlete Dorm Giveaway

Today we’re talking about plant-based diets and running with a snippet from the new book, No Meat Athlete, by ultramarathon runner Matt Frazier. Matt is on a book tour across the United States right now, so if you love what you read below, be sure to click here to find out when Matt will be in your city next.

9781592335787No Meat Athlete Book Tour

And enter below for your chance to win the book and some great No Meat Athlete swag. Good luck!


Click here to enter the giveaway

Protein: Building Muscles with Plant Foods by Matt Ruscigno
Excerpted from the book No Meat Athlete by Matt Frazier

Oh, protein. It’s the topic many amateur athletes think they are experts in, and one of the first targets of criticism in any discussion involving plant-based diets and sports.
Many people believe a plant-based diet doesn’t provide enough protein, but this isn’t true. Protein is easy enough to obtain without eating meat. Let’s start with understanding the science behind protein.
When we talk about protein, what we are really discussing are amino acids. These amino acids have specific roles in metabolism, muscle development, and wound healing. Nine of them can’t be created by our bodies or from other amino acids and are therefore called “essential” amino acids. When you hear about one protein source being better than another, it’s in reference to the amino acid makeup.

Some animal foods contain all of the amino acids in the amounts we need. If you ate only eggs and nothing else for months and months, for example, you would not develop an amino acid deficiency (but probably a host of other deficiencies!). Do the same with only lentils, however, and you may not get enough of the amino acid methionine.

Fortunately, no one eats like this. When we eat a variety of foods,  most of which have some protein, at the end of the day we get all of the amino acids we need. The measure by which animal and  vegetable proteins are usually compared is inadequate and outdated.
If you’re eating enough for your activity level and consuming a variety of whole foods, you will get all the protein you need. For example, lentils and soymilk are made up of more than 30 percent protein. Even some foods we usually think of as purely carbohydrate sources contain a fair amount of protein—15 percent of the calories in whole wheat pasta are from protein, and even brown rice is about 8 percent protein.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Between 10 and 20 percent of your total daily calories need to come from protein. High protein foods include beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. There are a few different ways to make protein recommendations. One is by grams based on your body weight. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), for example, recommends consuming 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight (or 0.8 grams per
kilogram of body weight). This is useful for calculating out the number of grams of protein you need for each day. For example, if I weigh 175 pounds and need 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, my daily protein need is sixty-three grams.

Another way to calculate protein requirements is as a percentage of the calories you eat each day, aiming for 10 to 20 percent of your total calories to come from protein. For example, if the calculations in the “Calculating Your Daily Calories” box on page 67 of my book No Meat Athlete tell you that you need 2,400 calories per day to meet your protein needs, then you should shoot to get 240 to 480 of those calories from protein. Every gram of protein is four calories (each gram of carbohydrate is also four calories; a gram of fat is nine calories), so this equates to between 60 and 120 grams of protein each day. This range, of course, will vary depending on your particular daily total caloric needs.

Why the Advice That Athletes Need More Protein Is Misleading
Sure, athletes need more protein than non-athletes. But we also need more carbohydrates and fat. In fact, our overall caloric needs are much higher because we burn so much energy in our training.
Because we’re eating more calories, we’re automatically consuming more protein if we stay at 10 to 20 percent of our total. Let that sink in for a minute: as your caloric needs increase from the exercise you are doing, your intake of protein increases as well.

For example, I weigh about 175 pounds, and I need 2,500 calories most days. If I’m striving for 10 percent, then 250 of those calories need to be from protein. Dividing by four (the number of calories per gram of protein), this amounts to about sixty-three grams of protein as my recommended daily intake.

When I’m training hard, I need more energy to fuel my longer, tougher workouts, and my total caloric needs can easily double (see how to calculate your daily caloric needs on page 67). Therefore, in order to maintain the proper protein/calorie ratio, so does my protein consumption.

Because athletes burn more calories than sedentary people and therefore require more calories, I tell the vegan athletes I consult to shoot for 0.45 to 0.55 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight).

For more great information on vegan athletes and training for marathons and ultramarathons as a vegan, be sure to check out No Meat Athlete today!

Want to take home your own copy of No Meat Athlete? Enter our giveaway below for your chance to take home a copy of Matt Frazier’s book, No Meat Athlete, along with some great NMA swag.

Enter here!

  • Kelly G. (@vegandaemon)

    I went vegan after seven years of vegetarianism because I realized that eggs and milk (etc) are just as exploitative and harmful to animals as meat.

  • Nicolas

    I’ve been a moral vegetarian for years, and a vegan for months; I started running two years ago and hadn’t quite made the connection until I came across Matt Frazier’s website, who made me buy Brooks Green Silence vegan shoes. Then I read Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run and understood that it was not only easy to eat and run while being vegan; it made you a better runner in every sense of the word. Leave animals alone, get on your shoes, and go run for a while. You won’t hurt anybody, or, if it hurts, it’s part of the fun.

  • mary helene

    I have been a vegetarian for 35 years, I don’t know if I could be a vegan. It has been easier over the 10 years to follow this diet.

  • hungryvegantraveler

    I went vegan for the animals! I first went vegetarian in 1995, then fully vegan in 2004, after learning more about the egg and dairy industries.

  • Alexa

    I would not go vegan, but I do believe in eating a plant-based diet. I do not believe it is necessary to remove complete groups of foods from one’s diet to say that I’m “vegan”. I believe everything is fine to consumer in moderation. I agree that eating more plant-based protein sources is the way to go, but there are benefits to consuming animal products still. It is extremely difficult to eat vegan and still remain healthy, vegans have to supplement to get B12 and many do not get enough protein or fat in their diet. I personally believe it is not worth the difficulty or the money, especially as a college student. I do try to maximize my produce though and minimize my animal products.

  • Maryann D.

    My daughter is vegan and I mostly eat vegetarian (I do eat dairy and fish). I do like it better then eating meat, and we are finding lots of great healthy recipes now.

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  • gabe v

    I’m vegetarian and working on getting the balls to go vegan. Unfortunately I do still eat a lot of dairy because I can’t get over cheese. As soon as I’m out on my own and buying my own food I’ll be on a completely animal friendly diet.

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  • Amy

    I transitioned to a vegan diet about three years ago and have never felt better! Although I originally made the switch for ethical/animal rights reasons, I have been pleasantly surprised by all of the health benefits of eating a whole foods, plant-based diet. Highly recommend it! Thanks for this chance to win! 🙂

  • Elizabeth

    I’ve been vegetarian since 2001. I flirt with veganism, but find it challenging. I do my best to choose only free-range, non-GMO, no antibiotic dairy and eggs. We’ll see what happens next…I just got some good vegan cookbooks.

  • Carrie Moran

    I’ve been vegan for 15 months and won’t go back!

  • Chelsea

    I’ve been vegan for over a year now primarily for health reasons. Eliminating dairy and meat from diet has done wonders for my digestion.

  • tami

    I went whole foods plant based in March of this year in order to lower my cholesterol. I love eating this way.

  • shanbogen

    i went vegan primarily because dairy made me feel like crap, but there are a lot of other great reasons which influenced me gently 🙂

  • Jamie

    I’m going vegan for ethical AND health reasons.

  • sarah

    veganism was the first step for me to overcome my eating disorder

  • Paige callahan

    Currently I only eat fish I’m pescatarian, I’ve though about going vegan quiet a few times but will atleast wait until I’m out of college making the switch is just too much to think about now with such a busy schedule I’m all about quick convenient eats and have a limited budget… Canned tuna fish and salmon is just so easy sometimes!

  • thepeacepatch

    I became a vegan because animals are our companions, not food or clothing or tools. Plus I got addicted to So Delicious “ice cream”. 🙂

  • Courtney

    I went vegan for the animals. Feeling amazing is a great side-effect!

  • gaby

    I went vegan 7 years ago and though I”d considered it for a long time it was an argument with an ex whose family owns a cattle farm that put me over the edge! I’ve always hated the idea of eating other living things, I’d heard and maybe averted my eyes at far too many videos on factory farming, but was young and still eating anything in front of me.
    Anyways, we ended up having a huge argument over the ethics of hunting, which I”m MAJORLY against. I cannot understand how anyone could possibly find that fun or do it for entertainment, that is just sick. His reasoning was that people did it for food, for biological reasons like overpopulation, or for instance, the foxes that killed their cattle on the farm. He felt that hunting brought him closer to the whole life cycle, the process of feeding and sustaining himself. And to be honest, I can see that. I think that’s a very valid and actually kind of virtuous thing to want to be concious and closer to your own source of nourishment, rather than picking up an undiscernable package from the grocery without thinking.
    So….sorry this is so long!!…I realized he was right. How hypocritical of me to be so adamant in my views when I was just taking the easy way out! and because I could never in good conciounce kill another living creature myself, it was not right for me to have a third party do it for me and simply buy it. Never bought animal products again 🙂