Having been a vegan for 2 years and a vegetarian for nearly 10 years I understand the concerns many people have with worrying about getting enough protein in their diets when switching to a meat and dairy free diet.
For many, most people in the western world will gain most of their protein requirements from animal products which all contain high percentages of protein.
Protein per day
For example, lean beef contains 36 grams of protein per 100 grams while a chicken breast contains 33 grams of protein per 100 grams.
So when you consider that the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 g/kg per day meaning that a 70 kg human would need 56 grams. You can see you that just one 100g portion would provide over 50% of a persons RDA.
While a 100 gram portion my seem a lot to consume in one sitting, many people would see this consumed throughout their day either by a chicken salad at lunch and a steak for dinner.
Benefits of plant based protein
However, there is a downside to this and reasons why adding in more plant-based protein sources to your diet can benefit your health.
While there is good protein content in these animal products they also contain no traces of carbohydrates or fibre while being high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
A 100 grams of lean beef contains 6 grams of saturated fat which is 30% of a person RDA. Which could be unhealthy in the long term if you relied heavily on these sources as your only intake of protein in your diet.
As a result, consuming a vegan diet rich in plant-based protein can not only help to reduce your saturated fat intake but also provide enough protein to keep you strong and healthy.
A balanced diet
The best way to achieve this is to consume a balanced diet filled with a variety of food groups that would provide you with your RDA of protein.
In doing so, this would also help you to increase your intake of fibre; vitamins and minerals by consuming a plant based rich diet.
Try adding in these top food sources to your meals to help maintain your protein requirements:
Dark leafy green vegetables are a great source of protein as well as iron. 100 grams of spinach contains 2.9 grams of protein while kale contains 4.3 grams per 100 grams.
2. Hemp Protein
Hemp protein powder or seeds in there original form contains 47 grams per 100 grams. I normally add a tablespoon of powder to my porridge in the mornings. Along with some nuts and seeds you are having a complete meal.
3. Non dairy milk
Soya, almond and coconut milk are all great sources of dairy free milks that can be easily introduced in place of cows milk. With the majority of them being fortified with extra calcium, vitamins and minerals they contain 2.5 grams per 100 grams. Added to your porridge along with the hemp protein all adds up.
4. Nut butters
Peanut butter, almond butter and even cashew butter are all great nut butter spreads that can be added to toast, mixed into your porridge or smoothie for breakfast to help boost your protein intake. With around 15 – 25 grams of protein per 100 grams, these nut butters are a great addition to your day.
The grain contains high levels of essential mineral acids while also being high in fibre, B vitamins and dietary minerals, and it’s gluten free. 4. 5 grams per 100 grams this grain make a great replacement for rice or pasta so try adding some to your salad or as a side dish to a meal.
You can even sweeten the grain and have as a porridge replacement.
Seen being used in Asia for centuries, this bean curd contains 8 grams per 100 grams and can be fried, baked and even used to as a egg replacer in many baking recipes. Low in fat it is a great alternative to some animal products.
26 grams per 100 grams these power houses of the plant world would go amiss in your store cupboard at home. With nearly as much protein per 100 grams as lean beef or chicken, lentils (green, red) are low in saturated fat, high in fibre and can be easily added in to any dish to increase your protein intake.
Try adding some to a vegetable soup or replacing the meat in a pie for the lentils to make a lentil pie alternative.
Similar to lentils, beans contain anything from 9 – 13 grams of protein per 100 grams. High in fibre again which can help to lower cholesterol. Beans such as hariot, butter and chickpeas all are great to add to a risotto, salad dish or even blend up in to a dipping paste to snack on. Either way they are a great source of plant based protein that your body will thank you for consuming.
So, to gain all the protein your body requires when consuming a vegan diet, you should look to add in as many of the above food groups as possible in your meals through the day to be sure that you would not be lacking in any essential nutrients.
Your day may look like the following:
Breakfast: Porridge with soya milk and topped with hemp protein, banana and nuts
Snack: Rice cakes with peanut butter
Lunch: Quinoa salad with roasted vegetables and topped with some sunflower seeds
Snack: Post workout protein shake (See recipe below)
Dinner: Lentil shepherds pie
So next time you workout, why not try this post workout protein shake to help your body recover
Furthermore, have a go at this home-based workout to work up an appetite
1 minute on each exercise, repeat 3-4 times
– Squat jumps
– Press ups
– Mountain climbers
Post workout protein shake recipe
– 1 banana
– Handful of spinach
– 1 tsp of peanut butter
– 1 scoop of hemp protein
– 200 milk of soya milk
Blend and enjoy!
Hope you have found this article helpful and if you would like any further information about a plant-based diet please get in touch with me through my Expert page.
Connect with Expert Neil Damerell