Getting enough protein seems to be everyone’s biggest concern- No matter the diet you follow. Even those who consume meat at every meal will supplement with protein powders.
When I went vegan, I kept seeing all of these posts about vegan protein deficiencies, and how there is no way that being vegan will give you enough protein. I’ll admit… I bought into it a little bit. Suddenly, every single symptom I experienced while transitioning was blamed on not getting enough dang protein.
After stressing about my muscles eating themselves to survive for a week I decided to do some research. I believed that there was just no way that protein did not exist in plant-based whole foods.
Here is everything I learned…
What is a protein?
Protein is simply an essential component of muscle growth and repair. It is one of the building blocks of body tissue and is used as a fuel source.
Protein consists of amino acids that act like building blocks in order to make the protein function properly in the body.
What are the amino acids?
There are a total of 20 amino acids, and a million different ways to arrange these amino acids. These amino acids are responsible for synthesizing proteins and other important compounds in the human body.
There are 9 essential amino acids that the body does not naturally synthesize. We need to get these 9 amino acids from our food. Again, you can get these amino acids from any food source and they can either come from one single food source or multiple foods throughout your day.
3 Types of Protein
- Complete Protein: these sources contain all nine essential amino acids. For vegans, these are soy, quinoa, nutritional yeast, and hemp (to name a few.)
- Incomplete Protein: These foods contain at least one amino acid. Some examples are, rice, beans, nuts, and bread.
- Complementary Proteins: combining multiple incomplete proteins to make a complete protein.
How Much Do I Need?
We need about .36 g per pound of body weight. About 56 g for men and 46 g for women.
How to Structure My Meals?
The body does not need all the essential amino acids at each meal because the body can utilize amino acids from previous meals to form complete proteins. Do not stress about protein. if you focus on a diverse diet of many different food groups you will be getting enough protein.
So what are some of the plant based foods with a lot of protein?
My Top Ten Vegan Protein Sources
- Lentils and Beans
- Edamame Beans
- Nutritional Yeast
- Hemp Seeds
- Dark Leafy Greens
A Day of High Protein Meals:
Breakfast: Protein Smoothie
- 1 serving pea protein powder (22 g protein)
- 1/4 c oats (2 g protein)
- 1/2 banana (1 g protein)
- 1 Tbs Peanut Butter (4 g)
- 1 tbs Hemp Seeds (10 g)
- Almond Milk (2 g)
Lunch: Power Bowl
- 1 c Kale (3 g)
- 1 c broccoli (11 g protein)
- Tofu scramble (10 g protein)
- Nutritional Yeast (9 g protein)
- Pumpkin Seeds (4 g protein)
Seitan (Baked) (21 g protein)
Quinoa (8 g protein)
Green Beans ( 2 g protein)
Edamame Beans (17 g protein)
Total Protein for the Day: 126 g
So as you can see it’s super easy to go over your recommended protein in a day as a vegan. (A little too easy if you ask me.)
I hope that this information was helpful to you! Let me know your thoughts!
All the best,