Is it possible to get adequate amounts of protein through plant-based foods? The answer is, yes. Just one online search of vegan athletes will settle any doubts you might have. As we continue to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, latest media attention has turned towards a potential shortage of meat products. To help ease the demand, try diversifying the protein in your diet with plant-based sources.
Most plant-based proteins typically combine with another macronutrient, either fats or carbohydrates. While this does make the general rule of thirds more difficult when it comes to macronutrient breakdown, it doesn’t mean that a plant-based meal is inadequate in nourishing the body as it should.
One of the most common revolving around a plant-based diet is, “But how do you get protein?”. Let’s look at the common sources of plant-based protein and how they can be incorporated into a delicious and satisfying meal.
Whole grains. Traditionally thought of as an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, whole grains contain a fair amount of protein, too. Take for example, quinoa. It is one of the few plant-based sources of complete protein, offering just over 8g protein per cup of cooked quinoa. Your morning bowl of oatmeal? Just the oats alone have 6g of protein. When topped with nuts, nut butters and/or seeds, this healthy breakfast provides enough protein to keep you full until lunchtime.
Beans and legumes. This group of plant-based proteins is often avoided in fear of unwanted digestive issues. Unless you know that you have a hard time digesting beans or legumes, they are a great way to get protein and blood sugar stabilizing-fiber in your diet. If you’re not used to eating a lot of fiber, I would recommend limiting bean-rich meals to one time a day for a dose of 15g of protein per cup.
Nuts and seeds. Most plant-based protein sources are paired with complex carbohydrates, but nuts and seeds are different. Along with protein, they provide healthy fats – an essential macronutrient needed to give your body energy, help you burn fat and better absorb nutrients. One serving of mixed nuts contains an average of 6g protein. The real star in this category is hemp seeds, though. Three tablespoons adds 10g of protein to your plate!
Nutritional yeast. You may or may not have used nutritional yeast, but it’s a pantry staple around here. Nutritional yeast has a nutty, slightly cheesy flavor and is packed with nutrients. One tablespoon provides 5g of protein and over one hundred percent of your daily vitamin B’s.
Plant-based protein powders. One of the easiest ways to get a variety of nutrients is with a healthy smoothie. Protein is one of main components of a well-balanced smoothie, and can be added many different ways. One scoop of protein powder can add up to 25g protein to your glass. When selecting a high-quality protein powder, read the ingredient list. Because it’s a concentrate blend, I recommend opting for organic, making sure the ingredients added are whole foods you recognize, and avoiding highly processed powders that contain soy protein isolate.
Whether you choose to follow a plant-based diet is an individual choice. However, diversifying your protein sources with plant-based foods is a great way to boost your overall health, sustain the environment and ease the current supply and demand of meat products in grocery stores.
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