Whenever we think of protein, the very first image that pops into our mind is a piece of chicken, fish or eggs.
But these are not the only sources of protein. Various plant-based foods that are high in protein, too!
In fact, some of these food sources will ensure adequate protein intake while cutting on the extra calories. And if prepared well, they turn out to be quite delicious.
Intrigued? Well, then keep reading as we unfold some amazing plant protein sources to help you stay fuelled all day long!
Are you missing out on protein if you don’t eat meat?
Before we move into plant protein foods, it’s important to know whether people are actually lacking adequate protein if they are staying away from meat.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommends that the dietary allowance of protein for an adult should be 0.8g to 1g per kg of body weight.
Protein is made up of smaller units called amino acids and our human body needs 20 of these. While our body can create 11 amino acids, the rest 9 need to be supplemented through food.
Animal products like meat, eggs and fish are termed complete proteins as they comprise all the amino acids. And so you can meet your regular protein needs easily. On the other hand, many plant protein sources, with the exception of soya beans and quinoa contain incomplete proteins.
Worried? Well, don’t be.
This just means that you need to ensure a varied diet of plant-based protein sources to get all the amino acids and maintain adequate protein intake. It’s that easy!
7 best plant-based protein sources
So, without any more time, we are moving into plant protein rich foods, right away!
Lentils are small powerhouses of nutrients!
Be it red, brown or green, half a cup of cooked lentils will add about 12gms of protein along with supplying healthy fibers, and micronutrients like iron and zinc.
Add this to your curries, salads, or rice to have an extra portion of the building blocks!
Oats and Oatmeal
Eating oats is an extremely easy way to make up for your protein content.
Half a cup or 120 gms of oats provides about 6 gms of protein and 4 gms of healthy fibers. You also get your regular dose of magnesium, folate, zinc and phosphorus here.
You can ground oats and use that to make some healthy cookies or have oatmeal and veggie burgers!
Without any doubt, soy products are among the richest plant-based protein sources as they contain all the essential amino acids.
About 85 gms of tofu adds to 8 gms of protein in your meals along with supplementing other key ingredients like calcium and iron.
You can have tofu in your sandwiches and soups as a “meat substitute” or you can stir-fry it and use it as toppings!
Quinoa is a complete protein like soy products and your chance to have all the essential amino acids at once!
One cup of cooked quinoa contains about 8 gms of protein. And this grain is also power-packed with essentials like manganese, fiber, magnesium and iron.
You can fill in for rice and pasta with quinoa or sprinkle it over your salad to higher the nutrient content!
Nuts and Nut Butters
Daily intake of nuts can help you derive plant protein health benefits. And this means all types of nuts!
A handful of peanuts will add to around 20.5 grams of protein along with providing you with plenty of healthy fats. Likewise, half a cup of almonds can make for around 16.5 gm of protein.
Further, peanut butter also falls under rich protein sources, providing around 3.6 grams per tablespoon. So, start adding peanut butter to your sandwiches and have a healthful protein snack!
Different varieties of beans
Whether it’s black, pinto, kidney, or any other variety, beans can provide you with high amounts of protein.
For every cup of these beans, you can get around 15gms of protein. Alongside, these are also rich sources of iron, folate, manganese, complex carbohydrates, phosphorus, and healthy fibers.
You can add boiled beans to your salad or make flavourful curries with these beans and enjoy it with steamed rice!
Incorporating protein-rich vegetables like green peas, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, etc. in your diet can increase your protein intake. On an average, a cooked cup of these can provide upto 4-5 grams of protein.
How helpful can the supplements be?
Given our busy schedules and lack of time, including a varied number of protein sources can be challenging. But you can still enrich your diet with indispensable nutrients like amino acids, digestive enzymes and healthy fibers through plant protein powders.
These plant protein supplements are made with superfoods like green peas, chia seeds, and brown rice. And the presence of blueberries and cranberries adds antioxidants to help you stay away from diseases!
Being a vegan or vegetarian doesn’t necessarily imply that you will lack the essential building blocks. You only have to include a varied number of foods.
You can ensure adequate intake of the essential amino acids with plant-based sources mentioned above or with a dietary supplement.
So, what are you waiting for? Go, get started, right away to stay away from protein deficiency!