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In general, people are worried they are not getting enough protein and the most common question I get asked as a plant-based eater: Where do you get all your proteins? Protein is essential for many functions in our body but there is a misconception that we need meat for protein. On the contrary, there are other sources rich in protein and many more nutrients that are also beneficial to our health.
Meat is acidic, difficult to digest, and can cause illnesses. Another reason why I don’t opt for animal protein is because often animals are given hormones and antibiotics which we then successively eat and alter our own system. Protein has 20 different amino acids. The nine essential ones which we can’t produce we get from our diet. We need protein to increase our muscles and also to enhance our metabolism; it is a very important source of energy and we use it on a daily basis. For this reason, I want to supply mine with the best sources available.
Your daily protein intake really depends on how much exercise you are incorporating into your daily routine. The recommended grams per body weight is around 0.36 grams of protein per pound. When you exercise you need more to support your system. Another general rule of thumb is to eat half your body weight, or the same as your body weight if you are doing lots of strength training. If you weigh 150 pounds, you would need to eat 75 grams of protein per day, which could be divided into 25 grams of protein per meal.
Protein is also key when trying to lose weight or stay in shape. A menu rich in protein keeps you satisfied longer and supports your muscles and the energy they burn daily— yes, muscles burn calories. When you run or do yoga you are strengthening your muscles, which in turn burn energy throughout the day. It’s really a win win. When aiming to get rid of fat, it is recommended to increase your protein intake and decrease your intake of carbohydrates. I am a firm believer that getting your protein from natural plant-based resources is the best option for your health. Many opt for shakes after their workouts, but not all shakes are are the same. Most of the common protein shakes contain a lot of artificial ingredients and flavors that alter your body’s internal environment.
A popular option is Whey protein which is a protein that comes from milk. In milk, you can find two types of proteins: Casein and Whey. These can cause discomfort in many individuals as they are hard to digest and can lead to bloating, gas, and inflammation. Whey has become so popular because it contains all essential amino acids; however, you can also find all these essential amino acids in chia seeds. Eliminating the need to purchase an option that will bloat and upset your body is significant when natural options are available and will make you feel good while strengthening your body.
My top sources of protein with their equivalent values:
- Almonds 1 cup 23 grams
- Lentils 1 cup 18 grams
- Green peas 1 cup 9 grams
- Peanuts 1 cup 38 grams of protein
- Black beans 1 cup 15 grams of protein
- Garbanzo 1 cup 12 grams of protein
- Hemp seeds 9 grams per serving
My favorite protein superfood blends are all plant-based filled with amazing nutrients, like broccoli or algae but with a great flavor. These range from 15 grams to 30 grams of protein. Superfood blends are an excellent tool so you can be assured you are getting enough nutrients and proteins into your daily diet.
Try these sources:
* This article was contributed by Martina Avanzini, holistic health coach at Martinaturally.