I come across a lot of vegetarians who ask me: Do vegetarians get enough protein? I always tell them not to worry as vegetarians can also get plenty of protein from the diet itself without taking any extra supplements.
In this article, I am going to talk about how do vegetarians get their protein & how can vegetarians meet their protein needs without eating meat.
Let’s first see how much protein do you need daily? The Institute of Medicine says that a normal female needs at least 46 grams of protein a day, and a male adult needs at least 56 grams in a day.
That said the amount of protein we need changes with age:
- Babies need about 10 grams per day.
- School-age kids need 19-34 grams per day.
- Teenage boys need up to 52 grams per day.
- Teenage girls need 46 grams a day.
- Adult men need about 56 grams a day.
- Adult women need about 46 grams a day (71 grams, if pregnant or breastfeeding)
Protein is such a vital nutrient that it is required for all of your body functions including muscles building, enzymes and hormones functions, immunity system, et cetera. Just follow these simple things to fulfil your every day protein needs. They are not in any particular order. Let’s get in to it:
How To Get Protein As A Vegetarian?
Greek Yogurt is a great source of protein. Only 100 grams of Greek yogurt will provide you with 10 grams of protein. Don’t worry! If you don’t have Greek yogurt, you can eat regular yogurt, it is also very high in protein content.
Greek yogurt being a probiotic food will also provide you with a lot of vitamins and minerals. Eating Greek yogurt or normal yogurt regularly will help your digestive system stay healthy, boost your immunity system, fight yeast infections, help with weight loss, control high blood pressure, and lower bad cholesterol.
They are my favorite. They are a powerhouse many vital nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and of course protein. I have prepared at home a mixture of seeds, containing sunflower, pumpkin, watermelon, chia, soy, flax and sesame seeds. You can choose any combination that you like or find tasty.
Two tablespoon that is approximately 30 grams of the seed mixture makes one serving, which will provide you about 9 grams of protein. I suggest that you have one serving as a mid-meal snack when you feel hungry or you consume it in one of the following ways:
For example Top it on your salads so as to enjoy the crunch and of course get an extra dose of protein.
Another way is, you can add the seeds mixture to your smoothies or milk shakes. I love apple milk shake so I add about one tablespoon of the seed mixture to enhance its protein content. And as a bonus I also get a boost of omega-3 fatty acids – one of the healthiest fat.
These two plant-based seeds deserve a separate mention:
These plant-based tiny seeds are real nutritional powerhouse. 2 tablespoon of these tiny seeds will provide you with about 3.5 grams of protein. They’re also full of some other important nutrients such as calcium iron and zinc. You can toss them in just everything that you eat – smoothies, on top of salad or a toast or add to your yogurt.
Truly, they are the vegetarian protein star food because they provide about 6 to 7 grams of protein for just a tablespoon. Easy to introduce in your daily diet – simply toss into your favorite salads, smoothies and shakes. Add a punch of this plant-based protein to your meals to enjoy nutty-crunchy bites. Here is a quick recipe: throw in a couple of scoops of hemp seeds into a blender with water to make quick and tasty hemp milk.
Lentils or Pulses or Legumes
Lentils are a great plant based source of protein. However, they are not a full protein food because they don’t have all the nine essential amino acids. 100 grams of cooked lentils will give you almost 9 grams of protein.
Besides protein, they will provide energy, help manage your body weight, and maintain the digestive system healthy. For example …chickpeas can be eaten whole, tossed with spices or can be curdled into hummus, or even added to curries or soups.
They are another good source of protein. One hundred grams of boiled or cooked kidney beans will give you 24 grams of protein. The good thing with kidney beans is that they have a lot of fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin K and B6 and at the same time low in fat and cholesterol.
Tofu is a soymilk product, made from the bean curd and is a rich source of protein. Just one hundred grams of tofu will provide you with 8 grams of protein. It has eight vital amino acids with a lot of iron and calcium. It also has selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1.
If you are a vegan or lactose intolerant or cannot drink milk, soymilk is a good choice for you. It is high in protein content and has vitamin A, B12, and D as well. One hundred grams of soymilk has about 4 grams of protein.
Many nutrition experts claim that quinoa has all nine essential amino acids. So, it is a full protein source option. One hundred grams of cooked quinoa will offer you 4 grams of protein. And it also has fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and folate.
Eating quinoa every day will lower your risk of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, it will also improve your digestion and help you maintain a healthy body weight.
This is my favorite source of protein. This nutty butter is also a good source of monounsaturated fat and fiber. It is also full of vitamins & minerals. Just 2 tablespoon of peanut butter will provide you with 8 grams of protein.
Alternatively, you can go for peanut butter powder. It will give you more protein per calorie. So, it’s a great way to boost your protein intake. Peanut butter or powder will help lower bad cholesterol and help you maintain a healthy body weight, but remember do not eat too much of it in a day.
This vegetable is young soybean. This vegetable is very high in protein and full of important amino acids. One hundred 100 grams of cooked edamame has 11 grams of protein.
Moreover, edamame beans have fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 alpha- linoleic acid. They have less calories and also naturally gluten- free
Green peas or any other peas for that matter are great source of protein. They are also high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, folate, and vitamin B, C, A, and K. They are low in calories. One hundred grams of cooked green peas will provide you with about 5 grams of protein. They can help lower the risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
Now you see! Is it not simple and easy to introduce more protein into your routine diet in natural forms without really any need for adding or increasing any supplements?
I hope you like this article. Please share what are your preferred food sources of protein under the comments section below.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me age is just a number!”