Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Where Do You Get Your Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a role in how our bodies function. Protein is an important nutrient for growth and good health. Enzymes, hormones, antibodies, collagen (used to build bone, muscle, teeth, and healthy skin) are all made from protein. As long as calorie intake is adequate, it can be easy for those who consume a plant based (vegan/vegetarian) diet to meet protein recommendations.

RDA recommendations for protein range from 0.36-0.45 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or about 15-20% of calories. That’s roughly 48-60 grams of protein per day.

Many of us who consume a plant based diet get tired of this question…Where do you get your protein?

Here are some of the top sources of vegan (plant based) protein:

1. Vegetables- the proper foundation for all diets.
• 1 avocado – 10 grams of protein
• 1 cup of broccoli – 5 grams of protein
• 1 cup of spinach – 5 grams of protein
• 2 cups of cooked kale – 5 grams of protein
• 1 cup of boiled peas – 9 grams of protein
• 1 cup of sweet potato – 5 grams of protein

2. Legumes (also vegetables) specifically, lentils and beans, the foundation of many diets for centuries.
• 1 cup of soybeans – 28 grams (1 cup of tofu -22 grams, 1 cup of tempeh – 30 grams)
• 1 cup of lentils – 18 grams
• 1 cup of refried beans – 15.5 grams
• 1 cup of garbanzo beans (and hummus) – 14.5 grams
• 1 cup of pinto, kidney, black beans – 13-15 grams
• 1 oz. of peanuts – 6.5 grams

3. Nuts and seeds- a staple in most vegetarian and vegan diets.
• 1 oz. of cashews – 4.4 grams
• 1 oz. sesame seeds- 6.5 grams
• ¼ cup (2 oz.) of walnuts – 5 grams
• 1 oz. pistachios – 5.8 grams
• 2 tbsp. almonds – 4 grams
• Nut butters- peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter – 2 tablespoons ~ 8 grams

4. Non-dairy milk – Soy, almond, Hemp, ancient grain (rice milk) coconut, 1 cup gives you approximately 7-9 grams of protein.

5. Grains- Ancient grains, sprouted grains, multi-grains- a major part of the plant based diet.
• 1 cup of cooked Quinoa (versatile and delicious) – 9 grams
• 1 cup of cooked Amaranth (gluten-free/oatmeal alternative) – 9 grams
• 1 cup of cooked brown rice – 5 grams
• 1 cup of cooked oat bran – 7 grams
• 1 cup of cooked bulgur (used like rice in Mediterranean countries) – 6 grams
• ¼ cup of cooked wheat germ – 8 grams

6. Convenience foods- There are vegan protein powders and bars that fill in the gaps on the go.
• Hemp – 30 grams (2 scoops) of hemp powder in your smoothie give you 15 grams of protein.

7. Supplements – spirulina and chlorella are often used by vegans and vegetarians for their rich nutrient content, and protein content.

There are lots of cookbooks and websites with meal plans and inventive recipes, including many on how to make traditional dishes substituted with vegan ingredients.

Whether it’s a long term lifestyle or a short term meal plan for cleansing, eating vegan can be enjoyable and rewarding. As with any diet, it is possible to be an unhealthy vegan. The best nutritional plans, vegan or otherwise, center on raw, fresh, organic vegetables.

Still wondering where I get my protein?

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