It's amazing how little questions or conversations I had with people about protein intake when I was a meat-eater. As soon as I decided to embrace a plant-based lifestyle one of the first questions people ask is "where do you get your protein?" To be honest, I really didn't care about protein intake prior to following a plant-based diet and I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't get a sufficient amount of protein when I ate meat. Why? Because I ate my fair share of non-food items like processed foods and fast foods. I also ate tons of carbs! I do know that protein intake is important so I today I am sharing the various ways that I get in...protein. Let me start by dropping this knowledge:
Now that we have established that plants have protein, let's get pass the myth that a plant-based diet barely have any protein. There are many sources of protein. However, I will be the first to tell you them some sources are caloric or have a lot of carbs - not a good thing if you want to remove some pounds like me. Do not fret, however, with a little creativity and patience you can get your protein even if you're meat-free and dairy-free. Woot Woot!
The No Meat Athlete has this wonderful list of vegan friendly protein items on his website:
- Adding protein powder to your smoothie. (10-15 g protein)
- Eating a whole-wheat bagel with peanut or almond butter for a snack. (17 g protein)
- Including beans in your pasta dishes (you’ll find plenty at the recipes page). (~15 g protein per cup of beans)
- Lots of lentils. (18 g protein per cup)
- Hummus on a whole wheat pita for a snack. (10 g protein)
- Putting nuts on your salad or eating them alone as a snack. (5-6 g protein per handful)
- Eating quinoa as part of a main dish or a side. (11 g protein per cup)
- Occasionally eating soy products, like tempeh. (30 g protein per cup
I use many of the items on the No Meat Athlete list to get in my protein. I drink 1-2 vegan protein powder smoothies daily. I also eat lentils, hummus, quinoa and nut butters. I eat very little soy products and in instances when I do eat them I make sure the products are organic and non-GMO. There are also protein products with wheat-gluten that are fairly high in protein, but I do not eat those products much. VeganStreet.com also has a nice list of items that provide vegan protein. As you see there are all sorts of options available to people on a plant-based diet. Following a vegan diet doesn't automatically mean a person is deprived of protein. However, the effort needed to ensure that you get in your protein my be a more than what is needed for those who consume meat and dairy. Some vegans/plant-based eaters may not say that, but I will.
Dr. Garland explains that the concept that you need meat to obtain proper amounts of protein is a great fallacy. Dr. Garland explains that there are many protein options, including pea protein, hemp protein and brown rice protein. I incorporate all of these items into my weekly food planning. I have decided to focus more on weightloss. News Flash: eating a plant-based diet does not automatically mean weight loss (I leave that topic for another blog post). For this reason, I have been following more vegan body builders and fitness gurus on social media. I also start viewing the Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness website. This website has lots of great information.
Robert Cheeke, an elite vegan athlete, ask a pertinent question in his article on the VeganBodybuilding website in response to the question about protein. Robert Cheeke's response: Do you know anyone with a protein deficiency? Well, do you? I know that I don't no anyone with a protein deficiency. So my question is: Are we overly consumed with protein intake? I know some people that ask about protein intake eat all sorts of processed and fatty foods. I think the most important thing we should ALL do is look at ways to eat healthy one meal at a time. I am far from being the best plant-based food eater. However, I am educating myself (and others) on the benefits of eating better.
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