How You Can Hit Your Protein Goals On A Plant-based Diet : There are many reasons that more and more people are turning towards plant-based diets and giving up meat — climate change, ethics and personal health goals being just some of them. But just how easy is it to stay healthy on a plant-based diet?
If you’re thinking of going vegetarian or vegan — or you are already — then you need to know where you’re getting all the necessary nutrients that your body needs to function properly, including protein.
Protein is super important for a number of reasons: it helps your body to build and repair tissues (like muscles and bones), fight infections, regulates blood sugar, and boosts your metabolism. So how can we get enough protein in our diets?
Well, the good news is that contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to eat steak, chicken and eggs every day to hit your protein goals. There are plenty of plant-based foods and changes you can make to your diet that will provide you with a hefty protein boost.
With that in mind, here are some quick and easy ways to hit your protein goals on a plant-based diet:
If you’re veggie or vegan, then you’re probably already acquainted with tofu. But did you know that it’s a great source of protein?
Tofu is a soy product — made from soybean curds — which makes it one of the richest sources of protein for people on a plant-based diet. In fact, tofu contains a whopping 10 grams of protein per half-cup, which means it can easily help you reach your protein intake goals.
The beauty of tofu is that it’s incredibly versatile. Tofu can be added to almost any meal as a sort of meat substitute — from Asian dishes like ramen and stir-fry, to sandwiches and salads. It can even be blended into soups to add extra protein too!
Snack on seeds, nuts & nut butter
Shaking up your snacking habits as well as your normal mealtimes will help you to hit your protein goals on a plant-based diet. Simply by introducing more nuts and seeds to your diet, you’ll easily be able to boost your protein intake.
On average, nuts contain around 20 grams of protein per 100 grams and seeds contain 30 grams — making both of them some of the best sources of plant-based protein around.
So, the next time you’re planning your work snacks — whether you’re going into the office or working remotely — then pack a mix of nuts and seeds. Peanuts, cashews, almonds and walnuts are all great for you, and you can add sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds into the mix as well.
If you’re getting a bit bored of plain or salted nuts, then try snacking on peanut butter like Smuckers (or any other nut butter) on toast instead. You can add slices of banana or blueberries on top to make it fresher and hit your fruit targets too!
Remember that protein powders aren’t cheating
Sometimes it’s tough to get all of the protein you need naturally, especially if you’ve got certain fitness or weight goals.
That’s why so many people turn to protein powders these days — so they can easily hit their protein targets without having to dramatically change their diets or increase portion size (see below for more information on that).
Protein powders are a quick and simple way to hit protein goals, with just one serving containing 25 grams of protein. They’re easy to fit into your daily routine with minimal effort too; all you need to do for a convenient protein boost is to make a shake in the morning.
The next question is what type of shake you should go for. The good news is that there are many vegan-friendly options (Naked Nutrition has a great range) that are made from pea or rice protein. However, it’s a good idea to check the ingredients of any protein powders before you buy — some, like grass-fed whey, comes from dairy cows so won’t be suitable for vegans.
Make your portions bigger
Beans, quinoa, wild rice… whatever the primary protein element of your dish is, make that portion bigger!
Yes, it’s not the most exciting method of hitting your protein goals, but it’s a surefire way of making sure you boost your protein levels. So pad out those meals and get eating!
You don’t have to do it drastically either — just an extra egg with your breakfast (or more scrambled tofu if you’re vegan!) can add an extra seven grams of protein to your diet.
Don’t be fooled by recommendations to only eat egg white, too: three grams of protein actually come from the yolk and four grams from the white, so there’s not much reason to skip the tasty yolk. Eating the entire egg — not just the white — is how you’re going to get enough protein and other healthy nutrients such as vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals like zinc, iron and copper.
Do some planning
If you’re really not sure whether you’re going to be able to hit your protein goals on a plant-based diet, then take some time to plan out your protein.
It doesn’t have to take long — just take five minutes or so in the evening to plan your protein intake the next day, and figure out where you’re going to get it from. It’s easy enough to do if you use a nutrition-tracking/calorie-counting app like MyFitnessPal.
It doesn’t need to be super rigid (you can always change it as you go on), but it’s a good idea to know roughly how on track you are in terms of protein goals. And, if you’ve still got a few more grams of protein to add into your diet to hit your daily targets, then you can use one of the tips above, such as making a protein shake or snacking on seeds and nuts. Sorted!
If you’re thinking of moving toward a plant-based diet, then getting enough protein into your body is important. But it doesn’t have to be hard — just follow the five tips above, and you’ll easily be able to hit your protein goals on a plant-based diet.
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