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Protein Sources for Vegetarians

One question that I get asked frequently is in regards to protein sources for vegetarians and/or vegans. While I am not a vegetarian/vegan (never have been), I know many people who are. I can see the benefits of meat-free meals…although I am way too carnivorous to EVER give up meat.  A plant based meal has many pros: they are usually cheaper to buy or prepare, typically lower in calories, and more often than not dishes are clean, lean and green. However, there is some debate over whether or not protein apart from animal meat is “complete.”

Pause for one moment. What am I talking about when I say a “complete protein?” Let’s break it down. The building blocks of protein are called amino acids, there are 20 amino acids that can form a protein, and 9 of the 20 cannot be produced by the body on its own, called essential amino acids. Because our bodies cannot produce them we need to consume them. A protein source that includes all 9 essential amino acids is considered to be complete. So, the question becomes can a vegetarian find a complete protein source outside of animal meal?

Veggies, rejoice. The answer is YES! You can!

Protein for Vegetarians

Complete Protein Sources:

Quinoa
Buckwheat
Hempseed
Chia
Soy
Hummus and Wheat Pita Bread
Ezekiel Bread
Rice (or lentils) and Beans 

Other Plant Based Protein Sources:

Pumpkin Seeds
Asparagus
Broccoli
Peas
Sunflower Seeds

Add any of these sources to salads, mix and match, or eat solo. Regardless of your preparation you’re guaranteed to get a hella serving of protein, feel satisfied, and be fueled for your workout or the day ahead.

Information via Greatist and AHA Circulation Journals.

Images via Healthy Haven

3 Comments

  1. Thanks Kate for the write-up! What guidelines can you share about how much protein an individual should consume on an average week (knowing that active training will change someone’s nutritional needs)? Thanks!

    • Hi Chelsey! Apologies for the delay! According to Dr. Oz, the US Department of Agriculture recommends that all men and women over the age of 19 should get at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (or 0.37 grams per pound). That means a woman who is 130 pounds should get at least 48 grams of protein, which could look like 7 ounces of salmon or 7 eggs. However, that’s the bare minimum requirement. Depending on your daily activities, you still may not be getting enough. If you’re actively training or working out harder that you typically would you should up your protein intake. Play around with your consumption to see how your body reacts, every body is different! If you’d like more information please send me a contact inquiry and I’ll respond to you directly!

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