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Last time around, we talked about why plants can give you strength without aging you. Today, we are going to explore plant foods that trump whey for recovery and endurance.

There’s a myth that plant-based eaters are deficient in protein. As a result, many gym lovers and bodybuilders turn to whey to bulk up and build muscle after a workout, especially since whey is marketed as the miracle powder that can turn any skinny guy into Wolverine.

Why Whey Can Potentially be Harmful to Your Body

Whey does not contain fiber, is processed, and acidifying to our body. This means that whey can potentially lead to constipation and accelerate aging in the long term. You can eat more alkalizing vegetables to balance the acidifying effect of whey and improve your digestive system. However, whey can still lead to a slow digestive system.

Furthermore, excessive protein from whey can potentially be damaging to your body. You can eat as much protein as you want. However, when your body can’t digest whey properly, you won’t be able to maximize protein synthesis because protein conversion rate is what matters. While you thought the protein you’re ingesting from the protein supplements is used to build and repair muscles, the protein is actually being metabolized by the liver and removed by the kidney instead. As a result, the excessive protein can overtax your kidneys and lead to diseases.

While whey may have some shorter term benefits, you may want to explore other plant-based foods for recovery and endurance. And you can still be an insanely strong bodybuilder without eating any animal products. Without further ado, these are the three top plant foods that provide you the phytochemicals, fiber, folate, vitamins, improving your digestive system and helping you recover from a grueling workout:

1. Sprouted Nuts and Seeds

Sprouted and soaked nuts are probably nature’s most nutritionally dense food out there. When you pre-sprout nuts, the protein conversion rate of these foods is twice any kind of protein-based foods. Pre-sprouted nuts and seeds also have living enzymes intact that enhances digestion.

With a strong digestive system, you can better assimilate the nutrients from pre-sprouted nuts, more so than raw or cooked nuts. Un-sprouted nuts are not activated and contain enzyme inhibitors which can lead to constipation. Cooked nuts’ enzymes are dead so they are not a living source of energy.

Check out this sprouted sunflower seed milk for a treat post-workout!

2. Quinoa

Quinoa is an edible grain that is considered a complete protein because of its greater amounts of lysine and isoleucine. It is also high in phytonutrients, high in heart-healthy fats in the form of oleic acid, and contains anti-inflammatory properties. High in fiber, quinoa also enhances our digestive system (Ever wonder why you have more bowel movements after eating quinoa?)

Quinoa’s high protein and carb content makes it a perfect workout recovery food.

If you want to go uber healthy and really enhance your digestive system, you can try sprouting quinoa. However, if you’re lazy, cooked quinoa will do the trick. Some people may find it harder to digest cooked quinoa, but I think it depends on your digestive system as well as the other foods you are ingesting.

You can check out our mouthwatering quinoa recipes here. I love this delicious and bright mini quinoa chickpea cakes – a bite full of protein! I am also in love with our quinoa veggie burger. Quinoa is so versatile you can use it in muffins and sweet chewy truffles too!

3. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens are great protein sources. For instance, over 40 percent of calories from vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, and spinach come from protein.

If you just want a super smoothie to quench your thirst after a hardcore workout, you may want to blend dark green leafy vegetables with raw cacao (oh so chocolicious!). Check out this decadent Chai-Chocolate Green Smoothie.

You may also want to read this list of top 10 vegan foods packed with protein.

Still not convinced you can get enough protein as an endurance athlete? You can slay your protein dragon myth right here.

BONUS Recommendation: Download the Food Monster App

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The Food Monster app has over 8k recipes and 500 are free. To access the rest, you have to pay a subscription fee but it’s totally worth it because not only do you get instant access to 8k+ recipes, you get 10 NEW recipes every day! You can also make meal plans, add bookmarks, read feature stories, and browse recipes across hundreds of categories like diet, cuisine, meal type, occasion, ingredient, popular, seasonal, and so much more!

 Image source: Quinoa, Apricot, and Oat Muffin Clusters