Going vegetarian? Here’s 11 meatless options to get your protein fix
t. The body uses protein to build and repair tissue such as your muscles, bones, and skin and helps you ward off disease
Whether you’ve decided to have meatless Mondays or adopted a full vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, it’s important that you continue to maintain a balanced diet to keep your body strong and healthy. Since you’ve decided to eliminate the meat, it’s crucial to make sure you are getting sufficient protein on a day to day basis.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body and an important part of our diet. The body uses protein to build and repair tissue such as your muscles, bones, and skin and helps you ward off disease. To find out how much your body needs to sustain itself, you can multiply your weight in kilos by 0.8 or your weight in pounds by 0.36. On average, adult men need about 56 grams protein a day while adult women need about 46 grams daily and 71 grams daily if they’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
While it may seem difficult to get a full dose of protein per day without having meat, there are many protein rich foods for vegetarians, surpassing the protein content of meat products. Having a few of these high-protein foods into your diet can help you reach those protein goals.
Protein: 6g per egg
Begin your day with protein-packed eggs. This will give a morning boost and fuel you until lunch. Eggs keeps hunger under control, allowing you to sustain yourself without getting too hungry by lunch. They’re also one of the most nutrient-filled vegetarian protein sources around. Have an omelet or scrambled eggs at breakfast and slide it into a sandwich or on top of a salad at lunch or dinner.
Protein: 6 grams per cup, cooked
They’re also known as Soba noodles, and look a lot like whole-wheat spaghetti, but they possess a nutty flavor. Although they have only slightly higher protein than spaghetti, they have almost half the calories and they’re good sources of fiber. When buying soba noodles always check the ingredients because they're not all the same. Many are made from a combination of wheat flour and buckwheat flour so look for the ones with 100% buckwheat. Add these Japanese noodles to stir-fries or mix them in your salads.
Protein: 4.2 grams per medium vegetable
Artichoke has one of the highest protein counts among vegetables. 2 medium artichokes provide more protein and less calories and fat than an ounce of meat. Steam artichokes and enjoy with a lemon garlic dip.
Protein: 5 grams per cup, cooked
Instead of eating spinach raw, maximize its nutrition by steaming. Steaming helps retain vitamins, facilitate calcium absorption and wards off the bloating effects. Add spinach to your salads, next to rice, or in your omelets.
Protein: 16 grams per cup, cooked
Also known as garbanzo beans, these legumes can be seasoned and enjoyed with Arabic bread, tossed into salads, roasted as a crispy snack, or pureed into a hummus. Simply blend chickpeas with some garlic and some tahini and you're good to go. There are many other beans other than chickpeas that you can choose from —black, white, pinto —and they all have equally high amounts of protein.
Protein: 18 grams per cup, cooked
One cup of lentils has more protein than 2 ounces of meat, with less than one gram of fat! They’re a great protein option for people who are watching their cholesterol because contain cholesterol lowering soluble fiber and minimal saturated fat. Add lentils to rice or to soups or even to your cake batter.
Protein: 8g per 1 cup serving, cooked
This wonder grain contains high amounts of protein, including all nine essential amino acids that the body needs for growth and repair, while most grains do not. Plus, it's amazingly versatile. You can make quinoa salads, enjoy it instead of rice, and you can even use it to make pancakes, muffins, and cookies.
Protein: 7g per 2 Tbsp.
Pumpkin seeds are a great snack and a perfect topping for salads and soups. But don't forget the other seeds in your pantry, either, as they’re all high in protein. Per volume, sunflower seed kernels contain the most protein followed by sesame seeds. Try thinking of other ways to more seeds to your meals such as by adding them to your breakfast cereal or on top of muffins.
Protein: 8g per 1 cup
Milk alternatives aren't just for the lactose intolerant; they can be great additions to any diet. Soy milk has the most protein among all milk substitutes. While all soy, including tofu and soybeans, are excellent sources of protein, soy milk is convenient and versatile, making it the perfect thing to have any time of the day. Just watch out for soy milk versions with lots of added sugar and flavoring.
Protein: 8g per 2 Tbsp.
This is one of the few healthy childhood favorite that you can still enjoy having as an adult. All nuts and nut butters contain both healthy fats and protein, making them a valuable part of a plant-based diet. But because they are high in calories, it’s important you limit the amounts you’re having. Look for brands with as few ingredients as possible— nuts and maybe salt. Skip the ones with hydrogenated fats or lots of added sugar.
Protein: 6 grams per 2 Tbsp.
Labneh is high in protein, lower in fat than cheese, and contains calcium to keep your bones strong. But you can also add it as a substitute for creamy dishes and use it instead of sour cream or mayonnaise. Labneh makes a perfect dip for veggies or toasted pita.
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