It’s the age old question every vegan has been asked countless times by friends, families, and probably a nosey stranger or two – “But how do you get enough protein?”
It’s true, protein is an important part of your daily diet and while the most common way to get protein is by eating things like eggs, meat, and fish; there are other options when it comes to making sure you are getting enough protein each day.
Eating high quality protein is as easy as eating BLT.
No, not bacon, lettuce and tomatoes – Beans, lentils, and tempeh.
According to MindBodyGreen, just one cup of beans has about 13-15 grams of protein, so make some bean burritos and be sure to pack in as many beans as you can. All those beans pack an extra punch of fiber too so your digestive system will thank you as well.
Lentils are a great source of protein; throw together a vegan lentil curry and you will get 18 grams of protein per cup and some happy taste buds.
Tempeh is king of vegan proteins with one cup coming in at 30 grams of protein. Try making spaghetti with tempeh “meat”balls for an Italian feast that is sure to please everyone.
Other foods like veggies, non-dairy milk, hemp, and nut-butters are also good daily sources of protein.
- Enjoy a bowl of yellow split pea and sweet potato soup with toasted pumpkin seeds on a cold winter night to get about 18 grams of protein.
- Make a spinach and kale salad and load up on 5-7 grams of protein.
- Have a glass of soy or almond milk and get another 7-9 grams of protein.
- Snack on a piece of sprouted-grain bread spread with peanut butter and you get another 18 grams of protein.
Add 30 grams of hemp powder in your smoothie and get about 11 grams of protein without even noticing it.
But why all the fuss about protein? Protein plays several important roles in the body, and it can help with burning fat and even weight loss.
If you are exercising regularly you need to make sure you are packing in the protein too. While that can be difficult if you are following a vegan diet, it’s not impossible. Boosting your protein intake is important especially if you are doing heavy resistance training.
The Poliquin Group says you should aim for between 1.6 to 3.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for optimal fat loss and muscle building. This is because protein will energize your body, fill you up, and give you needed nutrients. Protein also helps to raise your metabolism, reduce your appetite, and build lean muscle mass (which makes your body burn more calories even while resting).
Foods high in protein are essential if your goal is to change your body. Protein rich foods are great because they take more for your body to process. By eating protein you are helping to increase your metabolism because it takes more calories for the body to process protein than it does to process carbohydrates or fats. Protein also helps reduce cravings because it helps by managing blood sugar and insulin levels in the body. And by releasing gut hormones, protein also helps you feel fuller, longer.
For you to burn more calories even while resting you need to have lean muscle mass. Protein helps with this too. To stimulate an increase in protein synthesis it is recommended that you eat 30 grams of protein at eat meal. By spiking protein synthesis throughout the day you are adding more lean muscle and helping burn more calories at rest.
Following a vegan lifestyle does not mean you will be doomed to lead a protein deprived life. By being aware of the vegan proteins and making sure to eat a variety of these foods throughout the day you can get your fix of protein and reap the benefits of this powerful nutrient.