If you are vegan, or planning to become vegan, it’s almost inevitable that you will have encountered the question “But where will you get your protein?!”
Luckily, you can tell your overly concerned friends and family that there is no need to panic. Plants contain protein, and there are many plant-based protein sources to choose from that are not only nutritious, but a whole lot healthier than animal sources.
How Much Protein do we Need?
First things first, let’s take a look at how much protein we actually need. Protein is a vital nutrient because it allows us to build, repair and maintain body tissue, including muscle. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight. The average woman needs around 46g of protein per day, with the average man needing to consume around 56g daily.
What about Athletes?
Athletes, of course, require extra protein regardless of what diet they’re on, and so if you are an athlete following a plant-based diet it’s good to focus on foods that are the most protein rich. Athletes are advised to consume 1.3-1.9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily, particularly during the stage when t
hey are building muscle tissue. This isn’t usually hard to achieve as working athletes often have huge appetites!
Is Plant Protein Really Healthier?
The problem with animal sources of protein is that they often come packed with saturated fat and cholesterol too. Over time, a high consumption of such products can lead to various health issues, such as weight gain and high blood pressure. And although we need protein, there is such a thing as too much, and animal sources generally contain much higher proportions of protein than plant-based alternatives. Just like excess dietary fat and sugar, excess protein can actually lead to weight gain too, as although some will be excreted as amino acids, some will end up being stored as fat. One study found that people eating large quantities of animal protein have 23 times the risk of death from diabetes and 5 times the risk of death from cancer as those consuming less protein.
For more vegan protein sources check here
Which Plant-Based Foods Contain Protein?
So now that you know a little more about how much protein you need to stay healthy, here are some great plant-based sources for you to try out.
Combinations of grains, legumes, soy foods, and nuts and seeds (or their butters) are all rich sources of protein. Because of this, they are great choices for athletes as they are not only high in protein but calorie dense too.
For those who want to ramp up their protein while staying light and lean, beans, peas and lentils are great choices because they are high in protein but much lower in fat.
For easy additions to your meals, cooked or canned lentils can be easily incorporated to spaghetti sauce or curries to add a protein boost, while tofu is a delicious addition to stir fries as it soaks up flavours and marinades perfectly. Chickpeas and all beans are a great choice too, and make an easy and nutritious addition to salads.
Vegan protein powders from peas, rice, seeds or soy can be added to smoothies to give you a quick fix in the morning.
Below is a guide to help you calculate the amount of protein in each serving of these foods:
Lentils: 17g per cup
Quinoa: 8g per cup
Tofu: 10g per 100g
Edamame: 18g per 100g
Peas: 8.2g per cup
Nut butters: 7g per 2 tbsp
Chia: 4.7g per 2 tbsp
If you are still confused and would rather not have to spend your time calculating your protein intake, then subscribing to a weekly or monthly meal plan with the right balance of macronutrients you need could be a huge help to you. Sign up for a free meal plan assessment and consultation here with me and you will get a complimentary 2-day meal plan that suits your dietary requirements and health goals. I can’t wait to chat to you about making healthier choices!