Top 7 plant-based protein sources

It is crazy that nowadays when you say you are vegetarian or vegan you still hear the question “Where do you get your protein from?”. A lot of people still seem to think that the major source of protein in our diet comes from meat and dairy, but this is a very limited point of view. You will be surprised to know how many plant foods contain protein! And while many will argue that the plant-based protein is not complete, hence it is of a lower quality than meat, I am here to tell you that getting complete protein from plant-based sources is not so difficult as it might seem. You do not need to obsess about combining different sources of plant-based protein in one meal in order to get a complete protein. The important thing is to eat different sources of plant-based protein throughout the day. Our body is so amazing and it will build a complete protein from the food you eat throughout the day, even if it is not consumed at one sitting.

Spirulina shutterstock_368858399

Protein is very important for us. It is a macronutrient and is involved in providing structure and shape to our cells, organs and connective tissue. It helps with the contraction of our muscles and gives us energy. It is important to consume protein-rich foods every day! But nowadays lots of people are consuming more than what they actually need. And consuming too much protein, especially from animal sources, can actually cause more damage than good. Negative effects can include weight gain, extra stress for your kidneys, dehydration and leaching of important body minerals because too much animal based protein causes acidity in the body.*  Having too little protein is also not good for you, as the body cannot store protein. Studies show that if there is no protein in the diet, 0,34g of protein per kilo of body mass is lost from the body each day. Here is a quick calculation that will help you estimate more or less your daily protein requirement:

  • Multiply 0,34 x your body weight and you will receive the minimum gr protein / day
  • Multiply 1,5 x your body weight and you will receive the maximum gr protein / day
  • A good amount of protein is the average of the two numbers

You will find out that you will rarely need more than 70r of protein a day, which can be perfectly obtained from the following plant-based protein sources:

  1. Lentils and other pulses and beans
    • source of protein, carbohydrates and fiber
    • 1 cup of cooked lentils gives you 18gr protein
  2. Quinoa, spelt and millet
    • all super healthy grains that are a great source of protein and carbohydrates.
    • quinoa is known for its protein content and contains about 8,14g of protein per cup
    • spelt contains 10,67 g of protein per cup and millet contains about 7 gr protein per cup
  3. Seeds (chia, hemp seeds, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin seeds) 
    • All rich in fiber and chia seeds can also be used as a natural thickener
    • They also contain heath healthy omega-3 fatty acids
    • 2 tbsp of chia will give you about 4 gr of protein and 1/4 cup of seeds (pumpkin or sunflower) will provide you with 7-9 gr
  4. Nuts 
    • All kinds of nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios and peanuts are rich in protein, but also in minerals and healthy fats.
    • 1/4 cup of nuts gives you about 7-9 gr of protein
  5. Tempeh and tofu
    • A source of complete protein and very easy to incorporate in your daily menu
    • Tempeh also contains healthy bacteria which are great for your gut, as it is a fermented product
    • 1 serving of tempeh or tofu gives you about 20gr of protein
  6. Spirulina 
    • It contains so much protein (70 % of its dry weight!) and just 2 tbsp will give you about 12 gr of protein
    • Include it in your green smoothie
  7. Nutritional yeast 
    • You can sprinkle it on your salad or mix it in your homemade salad dressing, it has a great flavour
    • Besides being a source of protein (12gr in 3 tbsp) it is also a great source of complex B vitamins

*http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/09/03/too-much-protein.aspx

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