Everyone today seems to be concerned with their protein intake, and they also seem to believe that the "best and only" way to receive protein are from animal sources. However, contradictory to those claims, there are many plant based foods out there rich in protein. Here are the facts about plant-based proteins.
Protein is essential to your body functioning properly. However, it's not good to overload the body with too much. The body needs to be able to have time to break down these nutrients properly, not be overloaded with unnecessary calories. When you consume too much protein then you are probably taking in too many calories and fat that your body doesn't need. Adult women have a recommended protein intake of 46 grams, and men 56 grams.
A popular grain that seems to be everywhere nowadays that is extremely rich in protein is quinoa. Quinoa is a gluten-free low calorie whole grain that provides 8.4 grams of protein just 1 cup of cooked quinoa. It is a complete protein which is essential for vegans and vegetarians. It's also more cost effective, costing less than in comparison to good quality meat. It comes in a variety of colors, white, red, and black.
Seeds are another great source of protein. In just one tablespoon of hemp seeds, which is only 40 calories, provides 5 grams of protein. There are so many hemp protein powders available on the market today that are great for vegans or just people that are lactose intolerant. Many people working out and looking for a protein recovery formula spend so much money on whey isolate protein, which has been marketed to be flavorful and have high protein content to build muscle. However, what these dairy based protein powders contain artificial flavors, chemicals, and the bi-products (leftovers) of milk after being curdled. So if you prefer to obtain your nutrients from a whole food and not a bi-product of another food, I would highly recommend hemp or any other plant-based protein.
Chia seeds are extremely popular on the food market today. You can make chia seed pudding, add it to water or juices, smoothies, baked goods, oatmeal, salads, breads, and many other ways. In just 3 tablespoons there are 5 grams of protein.
Pumpkin seeds are also high in protein, in 1 cup (284 calories) they provide 12 grams. There are also pumpkin seed protein powders now made, I haven't tried any yet, but I am definitely interested in doing so. They are rich in zinc, vitamin E, phosphorous, and contain anti-viral properties. You can make pumpkin seeds at home by roasting them or buy them prepared and add them on-top of salads, vegatables, cereals, grind them and mix into a delicious salad dressing, granola, or even veggie burgers.
Sunflower seeds are another complete protein source. They are low glycemic, anti-inflammatory, help to lower cholesterol, and have high levels of magnesium which is great for providing you with energy. In 1 cup (269 calories) of hulled sun flow seeds there are 10 grams of protein.
Now onto the legume family. I'm sure we all know that beans and lentils are rich in protein, but if you eat them in replacement of meat, you'll find that they are just as, if not more-so, filling. In just a 1/2 cup of beans (329 calorie) there are 21 grams of protein! Thats an all-natural way of providing your body with protein, and for women and men its almost half of their necessary protein intake for the day. People think that beans make you gassy, and this is true, but this is because your gut isn't healthy. If your gut is healthy and balanced your digestive system will be able to break down beans and not give you gas. You will have to clean your gut out over time, and the first step in doing so is cutting out refined sugars and processed foods from your diet.
Lentils have an astounding 50 grams of protein in just 1 cup (678 calories). That would provide you with a meals worth of calories, and you'd be extremely full after this. But just think, you can receive this high level of protein from a plant! You don't have to buy protein shakes that have been processed, but you can make a lentil soup to have for lunch after working out instead.
Green plants such as broccoli, asparagus, and peas are also complete protein sources. Broccoli is high in vitamin-c, iron and potassium. In 1 cup chopped (31 calories) there are 2.5 grams of protein. Be careful not to cook your greens for too long, or else all the nutrients will be left floating in the water you cooked it in. It's good to cook your green's so that they still have a vibrant green color and a crunch to them, thats how you know you'll be receiving all the nutrients you need from them. Even better, you can eat them raw.
In 1 cup (27 calories) of asparagus there are 3 grams of protein. They also contain fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A. In 1 cup (134 calories) of cooked peas there are 9 grams of protein. There are a lot of pea proteins being manufactured today as well that you can opt to take as a supplement.
Notice that all of these sources are relatively low in calories and high in protein. They are full of fiber and filling, filled with healthy fats if any, and other essential nutrients. You aren't just receiving protein but other vital nutrients your body needs to function healthy. Hope this helps you in figuring out where you'd like to receive your protein from!
Comment below if you have any recommendations of brands of vegan/vegetarian minimally processed protein powders you've tried!