Protein is an essential building block for our bodies, and getting enough is crucial for optimal health. Find out how easy it is to achieve your protein needs with plant-based protein sources.
Protein is a fundamental element in maintaining good health. We all know that it’s needed in the building of our muscles, but it’s also important in the making of hair, blood, connective tissues, organs, hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.
Proteins are formed from chains of amino acids. Some of the amino acids needed in the production of proteins are produced by our bodies. However, others are not and must be obtained from what we eat.
While we generally first think of meat, fish, eggs, or dairy as good sources of protein, there are also many great sources of plant-based protein that can ensure we get our daily recommendation. Legumes, grains, soy, nuts, seeds, and even greens can all provide a good amount of protein to those following a vegan regimen.
To calculate daily protein needs, it’s suggested that an individual at a healthy weight and average activity level aim for between 0.36 and 0.63 g of protein per pound of body weight (0.8 g of protein per kilogram). So a 155 lb (70 kg) person should consume about 56 g of protein daily. Where you fall on the scale will also depend on your age, fitness level, and lifestyle.
Read on to discover some high-protein vegan recipes that will satisfy not only your hunger but your protein needs as well.
High-protein vegan recipes
Green Pea Poppers
Game Day Layered Dip
Sweet Heat Tofu Stir-Fry
Protein Power Cookies
Here are some basic rules to keep in mind when planning your next high-protein vegan meal.
Consider the whole package
When choosing a vegan protein to incorporate into your meal, ensure you consider the “complete package.” What types of fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals come along with the protein? Aim for protein sources that are low in saturated fats and processed carbohydrates, and are high in beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Pair foods for protein
For the most part, plants don’t contain complete proteins. To ensure you are getting a full complement of amino acids to make up a complete protein, pair grains and legumes together, or nuts and seeds with legumes. These pairings are referred to as complementary proteins because eating them together gives you a full complement of essential amino acids.
Focus on variety
You don’t need to eat complementary proteins at every meal. As long as you enjoy a wide variety of whole foods, you should be getting ample amounts of protein and other key nutrients throughout the day.
Pack protein snacks
Try to always incorporate a protein-packed item into your daily snacks. In a pinch, a handful of nuts provides a good source of healthy fats and protein that will help fuel you through to your next meal.
Journal your protein intake
If you’re concerned that you’re not hitting your target protein consumption, try keeping a food journal. Taking stock of everything you eat over the course of a week can really help illustrate where you’re meeting your goals and where you’re falling short.