Protein is such an important part of a healthy balanced diet. Especially for people who live a more active lifestyle.
Proteins repair and build your body’s tissues, play a key role in metabolism, and coordinate bodily functions. Proteins also maintain proper pH and fluid balance. Including protein in meals can increase satisfaction and help with satiety between meals.
How much protein do you need?
The average person needs about 0.8 – 1.0 g/kg of protein per day. For more active individuals and athletes, the recommendation is 1.0 – 1.3 g/kg per day. Most people will meet their protein requirements with 0.8 – 1.0 g/kg of protein per day.
To determine your body weight in kilograms, take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, 150/2.2 = 68 kg – You weigh 68 kg. To determine your protein needs, you would multiply 68 kg x 0.8 = 54.4 grams of protein per day.
What are the best sources of protein?
Many foods contain protein but some are complete sources of protein, and some are incomplete. There are 20 different amino acids that our body uses to make proteins, 9 of which it can’t produce on its own. The 9 amino acids the body cannot produce are called essential amino acids. Foods that contain all 9 essential amino acids are called complete proteins. Foods that are lacking one or more of the essential amino acids are incomplete.
What about protein on a vegan diet?
Animal-based sources of protein are all complete proteins. Lacto-Ovo vegetarians can get all of the essential amino acids from milk and eggs. For completely vegan folks, it can require a little more thought to make sure they get all of the essential amino acids in their diet. Most plant-based sources of protein are not complete proteins. Including a variety of different plant-based foods, and combining them strategically, can help to ensure you are getting adequate protein and all of the essential amino acids.
Try these 5 tasty tips to get more protein on a vegan diet:
1. Eat more beans
Beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein. They are also full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They really are the perfect food. Whether you prefer black beans, garbanzos beans, kidney beans, or another variety, this healthy protein provides about 15 grams of protein per cup. Beans work well in the diet when complemented with nuts and seeds to create a complete protein. Try taking your salads to a whole new level by adding your favorite beans and nuts to increase your protein intake.
2. Add soy-based proteins
Try adding soy-based proteins to your diets like tofu, tempeh, and edamame. Soy is one of the most complete sources of plant-based protein and can be enjoyed in many different ways. One cup of tofu packs 20 grams of protein. Tofu is also high in calcium. When creating your meals, try making vegetables, grains, and legumes the center of your plate. Add baked, grilled, or air-fried tofu to complement other ingredients and boost your protein intake.
You can also get creative and make a tofu scramble with your favorite vegetables for breakfast, tempeh tacos, or make a vegan “egg salad” using tofu as the main ingredient. Try edamame in salads or enjoy them alone for a high-protein snack. There are so many delicious and enjoyable ways to get more protein using soy products.
3. Incorporate more lentils
Lentils are legumes that are high in fiber and provide 18 grams of protein per cup. Not only will lentils help you meet your daily protein goal, but they are also high in folate, iron, and manganese. Many people who eliminate meat products from their diet are often deficient in iron. Try lentils in a stew, as the heart of a bolognese, or try them in lentil-stuffed bell peppers. You can also add lentils to salads and soups. To create a complete protein, pair lentils with whole grains. For instance, Indian daal with rice.
4. Supplement with protein powder
Vegan protein powder can be a tasty and effective way to supplement the amount of protein in your diet. This strawberry banana protein shake from Naked Nutrition is a great-tasting, plant-based protein powder perfect for those on-the-go mornings. Enjoy a tasty vegan protein shake to give your diet an added protein boost. Try blending it with soy milk, frozen berries, and oats for a balanced, high-protein meal in minutes. You can even add a scoop to your oatmeal in the morning.
5. Sprinkle nuts and seeds
Level up your breakfast game by adding nuts and seeds to your oatmeal. Combining nuts and seeds with whole grains is a delicious way to up your protein intake. The amino acids in whole grains complement the amino acids in nuts and seeds, making them a complete protein.
While it’s normal to worry about getting adequate protein while following a plant-based diet, it is definitely possible with some thought and planning. Whatever your reason for choosing to eat vegan, you can more than satisfy your protein requirements with a diet made of plants.
If you include a variety of plant-based foods from different food groups and combine them appropriately, you’ll be sure to get enough protein in your diet and enough of the right amino acids.