Q: Which is better for athletes: animal protein or plant protein?
Brandon Marsh answers
A: There are two sides to every coin. Neither is right nor wrong. What is always right, however, is listening to your body.
On one side, you have people who say animal protein is the reason for many of modern society’s ailments — including more prevalent allergies and even terminal illnesses. Whether they’re vegetarian, vegan or just cautious about meat and dairy intake, they prefer to get their protein from plant sources such as legumes, grains, soy, nuts and seeds.
Although vegans don’t consume any dairy (which rules out those creamy whey protein shakes), they still have ample mix-and-go protein options, such as hemp, rice and pea protein powders. And due to growing demand, there are countless nut- and seed-based foods on the market today.
In the other camp, you have meat-eaters. They may be followers of the paleo diet, eating foods such as meat, fish, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed foods, legumes, wheat and dairy. Non-paleo people would consume a wide range of all of these foods, with their main sources of protein coming from animal products such as meat, eggs, cheese and milk.
We all have different dietary wants and needs, but it’s important to be aware of what works for your stomach, your recovery needs, your body chemistry and your physical fitness goals. Amy and I are somewhere in the middle. We eat meat, but we also enjoy our daily vegetarian protein smoothie. In fact, we like it so much we wanted to share the recipe.
Vegetarian Protein Plus Smoothie
Directions: Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Pea protein tends to mix very thick, so add more coconut water or almond milk for a lighter consistency.
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time Iron distance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter, follow Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and follow Amy @AmyCMarsh.