How can I get enough protein without eating meat?

by PoojaMakhija

Many people are turning vegetarian these days, whether for health or moral reasons. The most frequently encountered problem during this process was determining how to consume enough protein while following a plant-based diet. By following the recommendations below, you may be certain that you are meeting your protein requirements without the use of animal products.

 In order to meet your body's protein requirements, you will need to develop a nutrition strategy that will guarantee that you receive all of the necessary nutrients.

What is Protein?

Protein is critical for maintaining excellent health. The very root of the word derived from the Greek protos, which means "first" underlines protein's position as the most important nutrient in the human diet. Protein is required for the formation of hair, blood, connective tissue, antibodies, enzymes, and other body functions. Athletes and bodybuilders frequently consume extra protein to bulk up.

Types of Proteins?

Amino acids are the building blocks of muscles and act as catalysts in nearly all chemical reactions in the body. There are a total of 20 amino acids in the body. Nine of these are considered "essential" amino acids by the scientific community (EAA). EAAs, in contrast to the other types of amino acids, are referred to as "essential" since the body cannot create them on its own and must obtain them from the diet in order to function properly.

The term "complete protein" refers to foods that contain sufficient levels of all nine essential amino acids. Complete essential amino acids profiles can be found in meat and other animal meals, making them "complete" sources.

Incomplete proteins are proteins that are missing one or more of the essential amino acids in their natural form. Most plant meals have insufficient protein profiles, which means that you must mix them with other plant foods that contain various essential amino acids in order to consume a sufficient amount of protein.

Protein Sources

There are two major kinds (or sources) of protein, those derived from animals and those derived from plants.

  • Some animal products, such as the following, are full sources of protein: whey (dairy), casein (dairy), egg, beef, chicken, etc.
  • plant based protein include the following: Soybeans, peas, brown rice, chickpeas, etc.

The amino acid composition of animal and plant proteins is the most critical difference between them. The majority of animal proteins are complete proteins, which means they include all nine of the essential amino acids in the proper proportions (EAAs). The majority of plant proteins are considered incomplete proteins, which means they lack at least one essential amino acid. Eating numerous plant proteins at the same time, on the other hand, can provide the effect of complete proteins.

RDA of Protein

Protein should contribute anywhere from 10 to 35 percent of your total calorie intake. Consequently, if you require 2,000 calories, you will require 200-700 calories from protein (50-175 grams). 0.8 g per kg of body weight is the recommended daily requirement for an average inactive adult to prevent deficiency. To put this into perspective, a 75 kg (165 pound) person needs 60 grams of protein per day.

Sarcopenia sets in at the age of 40-50, and you begin to lose muscle mass as you age. To help prevent this and maintain independence and quality of life, raise your protein intake to around 1 grams per kilogram of body weight, or 75 grams per day for a 75 kilogram person.

Regular exercisers have higher requirements, ranging from 1.1 to 1.5 g/kg. People who routinely lift weights or train for a marathon or cycling event require 1.2-1.7 g/kg. A daily protein consumption of more than 2 g per kg of body weight is considered excessive.

If you are overweight, your weight is taken into consideration when calculating your protein requirements in order to avoid exaggerating your requirements. You can consult with a dietician for assistance in developing a customized meal plan.

Ways to get protein?

Plant based diet

Plants with complete essential amino acid profiles are easiest to obtain on a plant based diet by consuming a range of plants that have different essential amino acids profiles. The most common and straightforward sources to incorporate into your diet are as follows:

1. Chia seeds

These super tiny nutritional powerhouses contain around 3.5 grams of protein per two tablespoons. Other critical elements for plant-based diets include calcium, iron, and zinc.

2. Tofu

My favorite plant-based protein is tofu. A 1 cup of cooked tofu offers roughly one-third of the daily protein requirement for an average person. Firm or extra-firm tofu can be used in heartier recipes like stir-fries and vegan cheeses, while soft tofu can be used in smoothies.

3. Whole Grain Bread

Each piece of whole grain bread has around 6 grams of protein. That indicates that, before the filling, a single sandwich provides nearly one-fourth of your protein intake! Fiber found in whole grains helps keep the digestive system in tip-top shape and protects against diseases like cancer and heart disease.

4. Quinoa

Quinoa has been referred to as a "complete protein" by certain individuals. This includes all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa, like tofu, contains a high concentration of all of the essential amino acids as well as 8 grams of protein per cup, making it a particularly excellent plant-based protein source.

5. Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds have around 6 1/2 grams of protein per two teaspoons and are extremely easy to incorporate into salads, smoothies, and bowls to boost the amount of plant-based protein.

6. Peanut Butter

While peanut butter is an excellent source of healthy fat, peanut butter powder provides more protein per calorie, making it an excellent method to increase the amount of plant protein in your meals.

7. Oats

When most people think of oats, they immediately think of carbohydrates, similar to how they think of bread. Whole rolled oats, on the other hand, contain approximately 11 grams of protein per cup.

8. Nutritional Yeast

These nutty yellow flakes are a must-have for everyone who follows a plant-based diet. Two tablespoons include around 8 grams of protein, a significant amount of iron, and a multitude of B vitamins.

9. Broccoli

Approximately 4 grams of protein are contained in one cup of cooked broccoli. That's a lot of food for a veggie. In fact, broccoli contains more protein than some varieties of meat.

10. Lentils

While all beans are high in plant protein, lentils are the most abundant, containing approximately 18 grams of protein per cup.

If you're a vegetarian but not a vegan, you might consider include the following additional protein sources in your diet:

  • Eggs: Eggs are a low-cost, high-protein source that is also high in nutrients. Each egg contains between 6 to 8 grams of protein. If you substitute egg whites for the yolk, you'll save calories but lose out on the vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins that are found in the yolk.
  • Dairy: Protein and calcium are abundant in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Choosing cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt will provide you with the most protein bang for your money. Each includes 13 grams of protein or more per serving, and you can top them with fruit, nuts to make a satisfying breakfast or snack.

Supplements

Because plant proteins are more difficult to digest than proteins derived from animal sources, your body can only absorb and utilize a modest proportion of the essential amino acids found in plant protein sources. Vegan protein powder blends and vegan essential amino acids are two examples of plant-based protein supplements that you can use to supplement your diet. However, keep in mind that the isolate is derived from a plant such as hemp or soy, it will have a deficient essential amino acid profile in general.

So, if you're looking to invest in a plant-based protein powder, make sure it's a combination of complementary plant isolates that work together to provide a complete protein source. Many companies offer vegan protein blends that contain all of the essential amino acids. Examples of proper essential amino acid combinations include rice and pea protein blends.

Benefits of Plant Protein

A properly prepared vegetarian meal has a plethora of health benefits. Diets high in animal protein tend to be higher in fat, calories, and sodium. Adopting a vegetarian diet lowers your risk of developing health problems such as obesity, heart disease and stroke, as well as diabetes. However, vegetarianism does not imply health unless you take the necessary precautions. A diet consisting primarily of soda and candy may be vegetarian, but it is not healthful. The preparation of a balanced vegetarian diet as well as the consumption of a diverse range of nutrients are essential.

Bottom Line

Vegetarians and vegans rarely experience protein deficiency while eating a balanced, nutritious diet. However, there are a number of reasons why some people may want to increase their intake of plant protein.

 

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