Whether you want to build muscle or not, protein is a must! Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes and hormones, and supporting a healthy immune system. However, those who follow a vegan diet may have concerns about getting enough quality protein in their diet.
You shouldn't let this discourage you! Despite what many may think, vegans and vegetarians, are able to get sufficient high-quality protein in their diet filled with all the essential amino acids your body needs. All it takes is having a plan and some knowledge about what to eat and how to incorporate those foods into your diet.
That said, here are some tips on how to get protein as a vegan:
Educate yourself about complementary proteins
As you may know now, some plant-based proteins are considered incomplete. Incomplete proteins refers to a protein that doesn't contain all the essential amino acids your body needs. However, by eating a variety of plant-based proteins throughout the day, you can combine different sources of protein to get all the essential amino acids your body needs. This is known as "complementary proteins".
For example, beans and rice are a complementary protein because beans are low in certain amino acids that rice is high in and vice versa.
Include a variety of protein sources in your diet
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the one above. It will help ensure that you're getting enough protein with all the essential amino acids needed to help your body work at optimal levels. The key is to get enough variety of vegan protein sources in your diet.
Besides aiming for only high protein vegan foods, also reach for the ones that are lower in protein. At the end of the day, every little bit helps and will help you reach your daily protein goal!
Here are some of the best plant-based foods to include in your diet:
- Beans and legumes: These include lentils, chickpeas, black beans, and kidney beans. Aside from being high in protein, they're also a great source of fiber and iron.
- Nuts and seeds: These include almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds. They have a good amount of protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients such as magnesium and zinc. You can also use nut butters for smoothies, toast, oatmeal, and more!
- Whole grains: These include quinoa, bulgur, and barley. They are high in protein and also provide other important nutrients such as fiber and B vitamins.
- Tofu and tempeh: These are made from soybeans and are high in protein. They can be used in a variety of ways in cooking, such as stir-fries, soups, and salads.
- Green leafy vegetables: These include spinach, kale, and broccoli. Although you have to eat a lot to get a good amount of protein, it's always helpful to combine these high protein veggies with your meals to give them an even more boost. Plus, they also provide other important nutrients such as vitamins A and K.
Have a breakfast packed with protein
One of the best sources of protein are eggs, but those following a vegan diet are unable to reap the benefits of this breakfast food. Fortunately, there are various plant-based options that can be used as a replacement!
Avoid reaching for foods, like cereal or bagels, that are packed with refined sugars and grains and contain little protein. Instead, try making tofu scramble! Tofu is an great source of protein, it contains 8 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving. All you have to do is break the tofu done so it looks like scrambled eggs, add seasoning like salt, pepper, garlic powder, and add other ingredients that contain protein. Nutritional yeast is a great addition because it contains 3 grams of protein per 2 teaspoons! Plus, it's packed with vitamin B12, antioxidants, and tastes delicious!
Other great breakfast options are chia pudding, oatmeal, a protein fruit smoothie, or even make a protein coffee! All of these will ensure you're getting enough protein with plenty of energy to tackle the day.
Supplement with vegan protein powder
Whole foods should be a priority, but if you're not getting enough protein from them then a good vegan protein powder is great to have on hand. Although whey protein is known as the superior protein powder, there are plenty of great vegan protein powder options! The most popular vegan protein powders are soy, pea, brown rice, and pumpkin seed protein.
However, not all protein powders are created equal, meaning there are high quality ones and some lower quality ones. To ensure you're getting the best vegan protein powder that is low in junk and high in protein, keep these two things in mind...
- Find a blend of different plant protein sources: Most vegan protein powders (except soy) are considered incomplete protein. Soy is a great vegan protein powder, except over consuming soy can have negative effects. That's why we recommend getting a protein powder that has a blend of different protein sources. A combination of different plant proteins will make sure your protein powder contains all the essential amino acids. Aside from helping you get all the essential amino acids you need, you can also benefit from the other nutrients found in certain plant-based protein powders.
- Avoid a long ingredients list: You don't want your protein powder to just be a bunch of fillers and added sugars, so always make sure protein is the first ingredient and that there isn't a bunch of ingredients following it. There should only be a handful of ingredients that are used to help make the protein better.
If you're on the hunt for a great vegan protein powder with everything listed above, check out 373 Lab's Vegan Protein Isolate! It contains 20 grams of a completely plant-based blend of Pea Protein, Brown Rice Protein, and Pumpkin Seed Protein. Plus, it contains minimal ingredients and only natural flavors... the best part is, there is no chalky or chemical taste that most vegan protein powders have!
Plan your meals
Another important strategy for getting enough protein as a vegan is to plan your meals in advance. This will help you make sure that you are including a variety of protein sources in your diet.
For example, you can plan to have a breakfast of oatmeal with almond milk, chia seeds, and nut butter. A lunch of a salad with mixed greens, quinoa, and black beans. And a dinner of lentil curry with rice.
Write down everything you plan to eat for the day or week and then examine your meal plan to see if you need any additional protein. If you do, add a protein-packed snack or a protein shake! By planning your meals in advance, you can also ensure that you are getting enough protein throughout the day.
In conclusion, getting enough protein as a vegan is definitely possible. By including a variety of protein sources in your diet, planning your meals, and considering a supplement, you can ensure that you're getting all the essential nutrients you need to support any fitness goal!
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We're 373 Lab Supplements – nice to meet you! Founded by Iulia Danilova (Fit With Iulia), and with a team filled with fitness enthusiasts, we've worked hard to bring a trustworthy supplement to the market! Supplements that are designed to help you achieve your fitness goals by giving you only the nutrients you need – no unnecessary fillers or additives!
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