Recently a lot of people have been going on a plant-based diet, but one of the problems that they come across is not getting enough protein from their plant-based diet. Most people that are on a plant-based diet also do not consume any type of dairy, which makes it even more difficult to get a good amount of protein.
The Importance of protein
The thing is that protein is extremely important for our body. Protein does not need to just come from animals or dairy. The truth is that you’re getting a lot of protein from your plant-based diet, but you might just not be aware of it. You might not be getting enough protein, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not getting any at all!
Protein isn’t just necessary for those looking to build muscle and bulk up. Sure, it’s a great way to do both of those, but protein has much more of an impact on our bodies than that.
We all need protein to survive. Without it, our cells would not be able to function properly; we’d be sluggish and mentally foggy, and hungry all the time. That’s why it’s important for everyone, not just weightlifters, to get enough protein in their diet. Protein is one of our three main macros that play an important role for our bodies to function.
By definition, proteins are large molecules made up of amino acids. These amino acids make up the structures our bodies need to regulate cells, tissues, and muscles.
Protein is also found in our hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.
Now that you know the importance of protein, let’s dive into the different types of protein that you can get from a plant-based diet. As I mentioned above, you might be already consuming a good amount of protein from your plants without you noticing it. Let’s quickly take a look at some protein values in vegetables:
1 cup of broccoli: 5.7 g of protein
1 cup of asparagus: 5.4 g of protein
½ cup of peas: 3.5 g of protein
½ cup of spinach: 3 g of protein
Medium sized baked potato: 3 g of protein
½ cup of brussels sprouts: 2 g of protein
So if you’re eating a huge salad, chances are that you’re already getting a decent amount of protein.
Even with a huge salad, that might still not be enough protein for you for the day, especially if you are looking to cut fat, but retain the muscles at the same time.
How to get more protein from plant-based foods
On a plant-based diet, you will have to learn to love your lentils. Lentils are packed with protein and good carb sources so that you have both energy as well as protein to keep you going. Lentils are high in amino acids, fiber, and many key minerals you need to build lean muscle including iron, zinc, and magnesium. Lentils are also high in potassium, a mineral that helps reduce high blood pressure and can reduce water weight gain from excessive sodium or processed foods.
Lentils contain 11 grams of protein per ¼ cup which equals about ½ cup once prepared. That’s pretty good assuming that the portion size isn’t that big for a 1/4 cup. Refer to the image below to see how the portion size of 1 cup of lentils looks like.
Not too big!
If you’re unsure of how to use lentils, here are some tips:
Brown lentils are the most affordable and get mushy when they’re cooked, and work well in soups.
Green lentils work best in salads and tend to hold their shape. Red lentils are used for purees and Indian dahls. My favorite way to add them to soups when cooking.
Learn to love beans
The main reason why I avoided beans when I was younger is because everyone said that it would make you fart a lot. I avoided them for years and never knew then nutrient value behind them.
Beans are packed with fiber, helps regulate blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels, high in iron, packed with B-vitamins, and protein.
As for their protein content, you’ll find:
15.8 g of protein in 1 cup of navy beans
15.2 g of protein in 1 cup of black beans
14 g of protein in 1 cup of pinto beans
Again, that’s an awesome way to fill up your protein. It’s actually more than eggs and perfect for anyone on a plant-based diet.
Try out some quinoa
Quinoa is one of my most favorite type of protein and carb source. I also think it’s one of the most least used carb sources. Most people usually only shoot for rice, but quinoa is packed with both carbs and protein, which makes it an excellent choice.
Quinoa is a popular grain-like seed that’s high in protein just like amaranth, and it’s a good source of trace minerals like magnesium and potassium. It contains around 7 grams of protein per ¼ cup uncooked quinoa, which is about ½ cup prepared.
If you don’t know how to add quinoa to your meals, you could try adding it to your salads and make some quinoa salad!
It’s gluten free and loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, and protein. It also contains 5 g of fiber, or about 21% of your recommendation, per 1 cup serving. That is what I consider a superfood!
How about some oatmeal?
Oatmeal was another thing that I avoided my life because I always thought it tasted bland and plain. I still think the same way, but now I know how to add some taste to it by adding blueberries, sweeteners, and more other condiments to make it good!
Oats are one of the best sources of plant-based protein, but they’re also one of the most overlooked sources at that. While they’re not a complete source of protein, they contain higher amounts of nutrients per serving than most other grains and grain-like seeds.
Oats contain 7 grams of protein per ⅓ cup, along with 6 grams of fiber and only 3 grams of fat. You can also eat oat bran for more protein and fiber which is the most nutrient-dense part of the oat grain. Pretty awesome!
Oats make an awesome breakfast as well and most of them could be made in less than 5 minutes. We love to include oats for those that can handle a little bit more carbs in our Meal Planning Service.
I love how sushi places include edamame as a free side meal. I just never knew the nutrition values that’s in it, but it’s actually an awesome choice for plant-based protein.
1 cup of edamame gives you 17 g of protein for about 190 calories.
This is another thing that you can add to your salad or have it as a side dish for more protein. Most Japanese restaurant will offer unlimited amounts of them, so feel free to snack up!
They also make awesome plant-based protein snacks.
I love almonds
Almond is an excellent source of everything. It’s packed with healthy fats, protein, iron, vitamins, and almost any type of minerals that you are looking for.
Almonds contain 7 grams of protein per ¼ cup which is about an ounce, or 22 almonds.
It’s a great healthy snack that I recommend everyone taking. I never recommend junk food and when people ask me for advice on developing good eating habits, I always tell them to start snacking on almonds and other nutritious nuts instead of chips and popcorn.
Almonds make the perfect food for a plant-based diet protein source. You can always get almond slices and add them to your salad or just bring a bag with you on the go. You can almost find them in any store in any country.
One thing about almond is that you should be cautious with the amount of almond you eat because they are packed with calories. Usually, the rule of thumb is to keep it at just a handful or two a day max. Nevertheless, it’s a great option for your health and a good way to add more protein to your plant-based diet or vegan meals.
Hemp seeds can be awesome!
Hemp seeds are full of protein and they contain all essential amino acids which makes them a complete source of plant-based protein. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 12-14 grams of protein depending on the variety along with fiber, magnesium, potassium, and iron. In fact, hemp seeds are one of the best sources of plant-based iron and magnesium among all grains, beans, and legumes. They’re also nutty in flavor and enjoyable to eat.
Hemp seeds are just regular seeds that can be added to any of your meals. You can add it on top of your cooked chicken or spread it across your big bowl of salad.
You can also get creative with it and blend it in your smoothies. If you’re running out of ideas for hemp seeds or seeds in general, try out our Meal Planning Service for a customized meal plan where we can add hemp seeds to it!
Most of the tips that I mentioned in this article do not include actual vegetables. Kale, spinach, asparagus are great sources of protein to add to your meals. Getting extra protein into your diet shouldn’t be difficult. Again, you’re probably already consuming a decent amount without yourself noticing.
Looking for customized meal plans that allows you to discover new food, lose weight, gain muscles, and fully adjustable based on your diet and eating preferences? Check out our meal planning service!