Are you switching to a plant-based diet and struggle to find the right foods to get your daily protein? Or have you been on a vegan diet and just want to be more conscious about nutrition, or maybe you have explicit goals like gaining muscle mass?
Either way, it’s always a good thing to do some research. Especially on a vegan diet, it can be difficult to know exactly how much you need to eat to get enough protein for your specific fitness aims, and going on a low-calorie diet isn’t helpful either.
However, I gathered some tips and tricks on how to get enough vegan protein and at the same time stay healthy and not rely only on protein shakes and processed meat substitutes.
How much protein does your body need? On average, a human body needs 0,8 grams of protein per kilogram. That equals 57 grams for the average men and 46 grams for the average women. But then, of course, it depends if you are underweight and want to gain weight or if you are overweight and want to lose weight. You can calculate your daily protein intake with this tool.
A little bit biology for starters
Why do we need to eat in the first place?
Humans are animals. And animals are heterotrophic which means that we are not able to produce energy on our own but we need to get energy in the form of nutrients; protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
Plants are autotrophic which is pretty much the opposite. Plants can use the energy from the sun and produce their own nutrients, the process is called photosynthesis and you probably heard of it in school.
This means that every protein we take in from animals originally comes from plants. Got it? Good, let’s continue on how to get your plant energy every day.
Vegan Protein for breakfast
Starting your day with a healthy protein-filled breakfast is important for having a productive day. I know some of you might have the bad habit of having only a coffee for breakfast, but it’s never too late to change a habit.
Spirulina is a blue-green alga also called cyanobacteria. These bacteria use photosynthesis to produce nutrients just like plants.
Spirulina is one of the protein-richest food containing up to 60 % of raw Protein, about 60 grams of protein per 100 grams. That means with 100 grams of spirulina you already achieved your daily protein intake.
My favorite Spirulina Smoothie is; one tablespoon of Spirulina, Blueberries, Banana, and vegan milk or water. This shake is full of protein, B- Vitamins, Minerals like Copper and Iron, and antioxidants from the Spirulina and Blueberries. In addition to that Spirulina has proven to strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular and muscular endurance. So it’s perfect if you plan to do a little workout in the morning and don’t want to eat too much.
What to add to your Smoothie Bowls and Oatmeals
What I love most about the plant-based diet is that you can be creative with your food. You can experiment with different grains, seeds, and nuts and all these foods are full of protein. Have a look at a few examples of what you can add to your breakfast to ensure you get a variety of amino acids. You can also add some nuts or have a handful as a snack during the day. If you need some inspiration try this Snickerdoodle Protein Bowl!
Vegan Protein for Lunch and Dinner
Did you know that there are about 20,000 edible plants? This guarantees a variety of foods that you can enjoy on a plant-based diet while getting your vegan protein. For instance Tofu, Tempeh and Seitan.
Tofu and tempeh are made from soybeans, while Seitan is made from wheat gluten. Tempeh has about 5 grams of protein per ounce. These all are perfect to substitute meat while not being overly processed and with the right spices, it will taste like the real thing!
Legumes are one of the best sources for vegan protein. Plus they are low in fat, contain no cholesterol, but many micronutrients like potassium, iron, and magnesium. If you want to live longer, you should eat legumes every day and because there are so many different legumes it will never get boring! You can make Dhal, add legumes to your sauce, to salads, or make your own bread spread like Hummus, which is made out of chickpeas.
Because eating only beans would be boring. I recommend always adding a lot of vegetables to your lunch and dinner, it not only looks better but is super healthy plus there are awesome protein-rich vegetables as well.
Did you know for example that even broccoli contains more protein per calorie than steak? That is because steak not only contains protein but also a lot of unhealthy fats while broccoli has a lot of micronutrients from Vitamin C, K1, B9 to Potassium, and Iron. These are the 3 protein richest vegetables (percentage of protein per calories):
- Spinach 30%
- Asparagus 27%
- Broccoli 20%
Grains and Seasoning
Grains are super healthy and loaded not only with protein but also micronutrients and that’s why you should eat them every day. The two healthiest whole grains are Quinoa and Brown Rice.
Additional to all these macro- and micronutrient dense food you can add some Nutritional Yeast for seasoning. Nutritional Yeast contains 46.4 grams of protein per 100 gram and is full of Zinc, magnesium, copper and contains all B Vitamins even Vitamin B12.
Why vegan protein and not animal protein?
First of all, as I mentioned earlier, all protein is produced by autotrophic beings like plants and bacteria. So your protein is always plant-derived, so why go through a corpse if you can get the amino acids from the source?
The second most important thing is that animal products are never healthy. All animal products contain cholesterol, saturated fats, and carcinogenic proteins which cause inflammation. Nowadays there are so many studies proving that only a whole-food plant-based diet is a healthy one. For further information about the risks of animal products and the benefits of a plant-based diet visit https://nutritionfacts.org/
Are you ready to thrive on a plant-based diet but still no idea what to do now with all these protein-rich plants? Not a problem, because you can buy now the complete plant-based book to help you shred and stay healthy. Included are shopping lists, nutrition guidance, a Meal Prep Guide, a Guide on how to calculate your macronutrients, and of course many awesome recipes. Not good enough? There are even Bonuses included like access for the AZFIT Shred Program and HIIT Workouts. Click here to get yours!