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Clean Eating 101

Lesson 3: Macronutrients 1: Protein Myth-Busting

Busting Myths About Plant-based Protein

Part 1 of a two-part lesson on micronutrients, this video debunks the myths of plant-based protein. All three macronutrients—carbohydrates, protein, and fat—are equally important for survival, but none is plagued by as many myths as protein. The National Food Guide Pyramid most of us grew up with was built on the premise that a meat and dairy diet was essential for survival, with fruits and vegetables only playing a supporting role. The Thrive Pyramid reinvents this idea completely, emphasizing clean eating with a foundation of plant-based, balanced, premium nutrition to help you truly thrive.

Protein Myth Number 1: You Can’t Get Enough Protein from Plant-based Diets

The notion that plant-based diets lack adequate protein intake could not be further from the truth. You can meet your protein needs with a plant-based diet and with the clean eating side benefits of those proteins also being:

  • Low in saturated fat
  • Free of the growth hormones and antibiotics found in animal proteins
  • Alkaline-forming
  • Easy to digest
  • Better for the environment

Protein Myth Number 2: Plant-based Proteins are Not Complete

The word essential used before a nutrient means it has to be obtained from your diet because your body can’t make it. A complete protein provides all 10 essential amino acids, and contrary to popular belief, there are several complete, plant-based protein sources.

Protein Myth Number 3: Animal Protein is the Only Protein That Builds Muscle

Athletes build incredible muscle bulk and strength with plant-based proteins because you can get the same complete proteins from plant-based foods as you can from traditional muscle-building protein from animal sources.

Watch the video to learn more about plant-based protein and debunking protein myths.

Thrive, Applied:

Try your hand at the hand-made Balanced Energy Bar recipe with this lesson. Mix your own favorite combinations and share your unique creation with a picture and a comment below.

Tell us your thoughts and leave a photo!

  • dpatherton@hotmail.com

    I’m a firm believer that plant based protein is better than animal based protein but have been having trouble finding empirical, evidence based and peer reviewed research that supports this statement.  I also firmly believe a plant based diet is one of the keys to wellness and happiness but it is so difficult convincing friends and loved ones of this.  I don’t think any real change will be made without good evidence other than here say and personal experience.  Without good research backing up this concept doctors will continue to suggest calorie counting and nutritionally weak diets.

    • larry.mansell146@gmail.com

      watch “foods that kill” on YouTube.

    • Shelley Roix

      Watch Forks over Knives, or read The China Study. It contains all the scientific evidence you need.

  • hanson.andrew.k@gmail.com

    Love it!

  • morghan@rocketmail.com

    Thanks for the great handout on balanced energy bars.  I’ve made some in the past with dates, nuts, and spices, but the handout will really help me get creative.  Also, thanks for the lesson on soy protein.  My husband was a vegetarian for years, but when we moved out to a remote, rural area, we ended up relying heavily on soy and he developed an allergy to it.  He had to stop being a vegetarian and really has to watch what he eats because soy is in so many products.  Maybe with more creativity about protein sources, he can avoid soy and go back to being a vegetarian.

  • babybugdiva@yahoo.com

    Just made the energy bars tonight for the first time…i think I need to make some adjustements, but so far so go (taste anyway).

  • scorpion74805@zoomtown.com

    As a vegan professional fighter this is one of the areas that I had the first concern about. However I have found this to be absolutely true, not only have a not lost any strength or size. I am more well defined and stronger than I was before. The other great benefit I have noticed is that I am more focused and determined to meet my goals and set new ones, not to mention creating new dreams and aspirations. What a wonderful way to live and become healthier and leave a small footprint in our world.

    • Robert Beckett

      right on man

  • Michael Flake

    Thank you for making the videos Brendan. I’m going to make the hand made balanced energy bar! I can’t wait to try it! :)

  • Jen

    Balanced Energy Bar chart is fantastic! Just questioning the “or a combination totaling 1/2 cup” on the electrolyte header. Might I say I am really enjoying the media forum here and the videos with the supporting materials. Well done! 

  • Terri Misch

    I was just turned on to Vega Sport by my local health food/athletic supplement shop. I am so so excited that FINALLY eating lower on the food chain for athletes is becoming a movement! Very grateful for help navigating the vast sea of knowledge pertaining to sports nutrition, while retaining the ability to keep my environmental ethics intact. I am so excited to read the online materials, try new recipes, and dive into your books…a million thank yous!!

  • Ashley Joyce

    How much protein do you think athletes need?  There is so much information out there about .6 g per kg of body weight to 1.6 g per kg of body weight.

  • Karen Newton

    reinforcing why I need to get off of soy!

  • Andrew Christopoulos

    I like the direct and unbiased approach to presenting the facts about soy and whey.  Due to either intolerances or allergies late in my life – I found the same information – but had to read and research a lot more….

  • herbivoretriathlete@gmail.com

    These energy bars look awesome! I am loving the chart and the endless combinations that can be made, thanks!

  • Don Randall

    I’d love to learn more about wild rice. I love organic brown and wild rice pasta with crushed tomatoes, beans and sprouts.

  • Chris Roberts

    I cant wait to play around with the energy bar recipes. So simple to make different variations using the chart.

  • Barbie Bruna

    There is no protein plant-based to sell here!! I think that I have to create one! ;)

    • b1112

      go to myvega.com and choose either vega one nutritional shake (Vega tab) or performance protein (Vega Sport tab).

  • jeff

    have been learning alot and enjoying the products and using the recipes

  • Ed Kinakin

    Use Nutrional yeast in place of cheese or miso for flavouring. High in B12 along with other B vitamins and it tastes great. Also Amazing Grass Green SuperFood has 25% of the B12. I use Vega One, Amazing Grass Green Super Food and Bell Liquid Multivitamins for a complete spectrum of proteins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. I feel the best I ever have.

    • Rebecca Denby

      Hi Maria: I have been a vegan for 5 years and my B12 is on the high end of the normal range. I don’t supplement either. The reason it can be more challenging to get B12 as a vegan is the current state of the soil. Take care!

  • billyesmith5232@att.net

    Thanks……Great web  site.

  • Ewen Lewis

    This is mainly for people who have a genetic lack of intrinsic factor, a glycoprotien produced by the parietal cells of the stomach, which is necessary for B12 absorption. Forty percent of Americans are deficient in B12, which means eating meat isn’t supplying it to them. Also, it takes up to 7 years after not ingesting B12 to become deficient. However, if you are worried methylcobalomin B12 supplements are relatively inexpensive as is nutritional yeast. If you are lacking intrinsic factor and are deficient, B12 injections may be necessary. Hope that helps!

  • Blessyng

    Thank you again for providing the information. I have heard those myths before, but now I am able to understand the logic of why they are not true. I have always wanted to eat more healthier and gain more knowledge on what to eat & how to eat. And, now I am beginning to have a clearer understanding.

  • Lorraine Cullen

    Your program is making the transition to a plant-based diet a lot easier for this crossfitting yogi:)

  • Dru Williams

    I made balanced energy balls with apples, sunflower seeds, walnuts, finely milled flax seed, coconut, chia seeds and dates. Sprinkled some organic Madagascar cinnamon. Absolutely delicious! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Wonderful. I am a critical care nurse and work a 14 hour day. These will surely help with my focus and energy level. Yum!

  • Aaro Paavo

    What are those complete plant proteins?

  • ali nakhai

    No successful pro athlete has been 100% vegan or vegetarian. Jake Shields lauded it in MMA, his career has turned into a failure and he has been busted for steroid use as well. In the NFL a few players tried it and were cut that season. The most complete protein is from an Egg. No plant can compare. I’ve personally never met a fit pure vegetarian or vegan. A mostly vegetarian diet is ideal for health but extremism is stupid.

    • Lucky Ape

      You sound pretty extremist in that case.

    • Sassy

      he was busted for pot. plant based wut lawl :) in any event, there are a lot of athletes that eat meat and aren’t successful. and i didn’t know every pro athlete in the world gave you their diet information :) regardless, eat for your own personal health. no one is alike.

    • Kennedy14

      That’s not true, Tony Gonzales the Tight End for the Atlanta Falcons and Mike Zigomanis for the AHL Toronto Marlies are both Vegan.

    • Sharon

      I guess you haven’t actually looked into it because there are many very successful vegan athletes!

  • hkarlsson

    Can we use carob in the energy bars? I’m new to this whole plant-based eating thingie, so I don’t really know anything about this.

  • Wilson Hart

    i’m not convinced, show me a big guy who is all veg.

  • blackitalian

    Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) perfect score of 1.0. While most vegetables won’t meet a 1.0 (except soy isolate), some do contain all the essential amino acids, just not in equal amounts to recieve a 1.0. Combining vegetiables is good for plenty of reasons, but, it has more to do with how much of the high protien vegetables you eat (such as soy beans). Quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheet are also complete protiens, again just not a 1.0.

  • max

    Wondering the same as Molly

  • sequelnaturals

    Hi Molly,

    Great question! At Vega we ensure that our products, including powders such as Vega One and Vega Sport Performance Protein, are 100% natural and plant based, non GMO and minimally processed. Something like the savi seed for example needs to be slightly roasted in order for our bodies to break down the lecithin protein. If it’s not slightly roasted, it can actually be toxic in the body, so for this reason it is minimally heated before being ground up into powder form.


    Team Thrive

  • Natasha Ellingson

    I appreciate your ability to explain yourself & all these great myth-busters without all the ‘fluff’ ~ you just get it and you make it easier for others to too :)

  • AnnieN

    Just made my first batch of
    bars and my 20 month old son loves them!
    I currently live in India and have to get friends and colleagues to bring over my shakes. This course is such an eye opener on how to eat clean :)

  • Monique de Ruijt

    Appreciate all the info! I love the VEGA ONE product! Just ordered it and love the taste too!

  • Parismarathon2013

    My post run smoothie: spinach, vega one French vanilla, frozen peaches, strawberries, macs powder, and chia seeds. Delish!!!!

  • toridreamer

    Hahaha sometimes these videos are so cheesy bu ti love Thrive Forward!

  • YahyaBakkar

    I’m a bodybuilder. I’ve been thinking of transitioning into a full plant-based diet. Can you give me examples of bodybuilders who are on a complete plant-based diet that don’t consume that much carbohydrates (starches and sugars)? Having a high carb. diet, doesn’t do my body well. I currently follow the paleo diet which integrates a huge amount of plant-based whole foods.

  • Deborah

    What a wonderful source for the budding (haha) plant based eater. I’ll be visiting often, especially right before grocery day.

  • lilliasea

    I’ve lifted for over 25 yrs. and have always had issues with eating enough proteins. I’ve also had a immune disorder for the same time frame. I understand and believe in the importance of food/fuel/energy and the link to immunity, however the supplemental route never seemed to be quite enough, and various specialty nutrition programs still did not manage many of the immunity and edema issues.
    I finally started using plant based supplements when the edema/allergens and inflammation reached a critical tipping point. Many protein mixes later VEGA happened to be on sale. I read the label–no soy, whey, corn, allergens–and its been VEGA ever since. I’m on one year of VEGA and while not all my issues have dissapated I do feel better and have increased my energy levels–a HUGE step from where I was in January.
    Thank you for your work in nutrition and helping me begin the path to health.
    I really am grateful to you

  • KathF489

    Is it possible to get Vega 1 products in South Africa? I do a lot of sports that involve needing a super quick shake or snack with long lasting energy effects (like Enduro mountain biking). I battle to shove food down my throat when I am in the middle of an event and I am loathe to try stuff like Hammer Nutrition and other processed stuff, but it’s all I seem to find here? But def making these bars for next weekends 20km up and 20km down event! Will let you know how it goes and submit a pic – woooohoooo!

  • hxr400xr@yahoo.com

    How does a 230lb guy get 200+grams of protien from plants, seeds, nuts? Help.

    • Darrin Grella

      I am with you. I too have the same concern as I am 6’4″ / 220lbs. I have been a competitive clydesdale triathlete at 250 lbs for the past 12 years and over the last year been focusing on improved nutrition and shed 30lbs. I am now three weeks into the vegan (& vega one) concept. Since 1-5 hour workouts 5-6 days per week are standard, I am not sure if this thing will blow up in my face or not. I can say that I constantly educating myself, always eating and the results in my workouts are pretty good…actually slightly better.

      Give it a shot and see if it works for you. Its progress…not perfection right?

  • Valerietkennedy@gmail.com

    Can I have the recipe please

  • tarapas30@gmail.com

    aren t all plant foods complete protein?

  • Kimberley Burfoot

    The study used here to back up the claim that soy contains phytoestrogens which can cause hormonal imbalance is from 2001. The latest reseach has again and again disproven this. I agree with everything else that Thrive teaches, but this out of date information needs to be updated.