Best Protein Sources for Plant-Based Diets

Plant-based protein

*I want to preface this by saying I’m not a registered dietitian – although my mom is and I often use her expertise to proof my blog posts, including this one- but allPreview (opens in a new window)advice should be tailored to you and verified by your own research. Every body is different. So, you do you. Be informed but listen to your OWN body!*

Although I’m not vegetarian, I’ve gradually been eating less meat over the years. I rarely eat red meat these days; I usually just eat poultry and fish. Most days I don’t eat any meat at all and get protein from other, mostly plant-based, sources.

I love finding new ways to get protein, and have gotten pretty good at getting enough in my daily diet over the years while limiting meat.

Also, I won’t get into it in this post, but here’s a good primer on complete proteins, and getting all nine essential amino acids. Long story short: animal proteins are complete, not all nonanimal protein sources are complete.

Here are some of the main ways I get protein from mostly plant-based, sources!

 

Nuts + Nut Butter: 4g protein/Tbsp

  • Nut butter is PACKED with protein. Lately, I’ve been making my own which allows me to mix up the types of nuts and get all the benefits that different ones have. Adding nut butter to your smoothie in the morning is a great way to get some extra protein in to start your day!

Beans: 15g protein/Cup (Cooked)

  • If you told me I could only bring one type of food to a deserted island? My answer would be beans. Beans might be my secret weapon when it comes to protein.
  • My staple go-to dinner has always been a bean burrito with some variation of black beans, pinto beans, avocado, spinach, an egg, cheese, etc. Also, love a good chickpea-avocado mash sandwich!

Greek Yogurt: 20-25g protein/Cup

  • Yogurt is another great source of protein (if you’re not vegan of course). I love Stonyfield Greek yogurt or Siggi’s which is high in protein and low in sugar! I also add it to my morning smoothie for extra protein.

Tofu: 20g protein/Cup

  • I’ve been making more Buddha bowls lately (AKA throwing together some random veggies, grains, and a healthy sauce) and have been loving adding tofu for a protein. Here’s a great crispy baked tofu recipe! Also, consider tempeh, also made of soy, or seitan (click here for an explainer of what the difference between tofu and tempeh is).

Eggs: 6-8g protein/Egg

  • Replacing breakfast foods like cereal with eggs is a great way to start your day with protein! I also love adding eggs to things like tacos or sandwiches instead of meat. I’ve begun meal prepping eggs.

Lentils: 18-20g protein/Cup (cooked)

  • While lentil soup is always a great choice, I love cooking lentils and adding them to Buddha bowls, salads, or just adding them to a meal as a side.

Flax + Chia Seeds

  • Chia seeds: 17g of protein per 100g.
  • Flax seeds: 18g of protein per 100g.
  • Chia and flax seeds are a great source of protein as well as fiber! I love adding them to smoothies or oatmeal. Also love making chia seed pudding, like Good Gut Feeling’s chia pudding.

Other Sources:

*I used the USDA Food Composition Database used to find food protein averages. Different brands will, of course, vary in protein content.

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