Can You Get Protein From Plants

Processed Vegan Foods Rich In Protein

Can Athletes Get Their Protein From Plants?

Although these whole-foods offer plenty of protein, some athletes may still want help to hit their ambitious protein goals.

This is where some of the processed options come in handy. You should definitely limit the amount of processed food in your diet, for health and longevity reasons, but we cant deny that they do offer a quick way to up protein intake.

There are a few categories of processed vegan foods to consider, as they are all plant-based foods very rich in protein:

Warning: The Rda Underestimates Protein Requirements

The government Recommended Daily Allowance is supposed to tell us how much protein we need. But, they dont. They were set back in the 1940s before we understood protein metabolism as well as we do now. According to new science, those older techniques significantly underestimated how much protein we need, and our real needs may be as much as 50% higher than the current Dietary Reference Intakes recommendations.

Unfortunately, nothing has changed in government RDA-land, in spite of scientists warnings. So, if you go online to calculate your protein needs, many calculators give you an amount thats at least 30 percent too low. For example, an RDA calculator will tell a 120-pound woman that 40 grams are enough when in reality she probably needs 60-80 grams.

If you eat too much, thats not good either.

Cooking Beans Will Help You Get More Protein From Beans But Theres A Downside

Unlike nuts and certain seeds, you need to cook beans and grains to digest them. Heat plus water denatures, or unpacks, the proteins so your digestive enzymes can access these nutrients that nature packs into the seed so tightly that our digestive enzymes cant squeeze between the molecules and theyd pass right through us. But theres a downside to this. Cooking can destroy some of the more delicate nutrients, like vitamins A, B1, B2, B9, and C. When beans are soaked or sprouted first, it cuts the cooking time in half.

For recipes and ideas on what to do with all kinds of beans, a great place to start looking for recipes are cuisines that have a whole-food plant-based history include middle eastern, Indian, and Asian.

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Lentils Are A Healthy Vegan Protein Food

They are known to have lens shaped seeds that grow in pods. Whole lentils usually take 15-20 minutes to cook in boiling liquid and will double or triple in size. Lentils make great meatless protein recipes.

One half cup of cooked lentils contain 160 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 336 mg potassium. Additionally 18 grams of total carbs, 7 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of sugar. Furthermore 8 grams of protein, 2% vitamin C, 2% calcium, and 17% iron.

Chia seeds are one of my favorite vegan protein sources

Chia seeds are a complete protein. A complete protein is a food source of protein that contains all 9 Essential amino acids that are required for the human diet. The Chia seed plant is grown commercially for its seeds which are high in omega-3 fatty acids.

One oz of chia seeds dry contains 138 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 5 mg sodium. Furthermore 115 mg potassium, 12 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of dietary fiber. Chia seeds also have 4.7 grams protein, 17% calcium, 12 % iron, and 23% magnesium.

Chia Seeds can be sprinkles in smoothies, on salads, pastas, potatoes, etc. They can also be soaked in your choice of liquid to make chia pudding.

The seeds absorb the liquid and develop a consistency that reminds me of tapioca pudding. Chia seeds are great for weight loss and a solid vegan protein food.

SPIRULINA is a blue/dark green algae superfood that comes in a powder form.

Can Athletes Get Enough Protein On A Vegan Diet


Generally speaking, athletes can easily get enough protein on a whole-food, plant-based diet, and they dont need to consume protein powders or barsor even focus on eating whole foods with high concentrations of protein, such as beansto do so. As Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD, write in The Forks Over Knives Plan: Athletes do require more protein than sedentary people, but there is no evidence that they require a higher percentage of protein compared to other macronutrients in their diet to perform more optimally. In other words, most athletes just need to eat more food, period.

Fun fact: Roman gladiators were mostly vegetarian and ate lots of barley and beans, studies of their bones have revealed.

In an interview with Forks Over Knives, Garth Davis, MD, author of Proteinaholic, noted one situation that might be an exception: The only time Ive seen where more protein truly seems to help seems to be in a situation where youre on a calorie deficit and youre trying to prevent muscle mass loss, says Davis. A bodybuilder cutting for a bodybuilding competition want a higher percentage protein to preserve the muscle mass.

Living Proof: Plant-Based Athletes on the Rise

Looking for more tips to thrive athletically? Check out Cheekes Top Tips for Plant-Based Athletes and Rich Rolls article Slaying the Protein Myth.

Plant-based powerhouse: bodybuilder Robert Cheeke

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Can I Get Enough Protein Eating A Plant

Do you eat a super healthy diet, like Pritikin, that is mostly plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans? Congratulations!

But are you wondering about your protein requirements, and if youre getting enough protein? Heres guidance from the physicians and dietitians at the Pritikin Longevity Center, experts in nutrition and healthy living.

Are you getting enough protein on a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian diet?

Meeting Your Protein Requirements With A Plant

Protein requirements can be easily met with a plant-based diet. Worldwide, plant protein sources provide most of the supply of dietary protein, including that provided by legumes, beans, and nuts and seeds, and grains such as wheat, rice, and corn as major sources.

In developed and developing countries, examination of the adequacy of plant-based diets as sources of protein and amino acids has shown that protein quantity is sufficient.

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that varied vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful and nutritionally adequate. A whole foods plant-based diet can meet all of our protein needs, and eating a variety of plant foods throughout the day more than assures us of adequate protein intake. It may also provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concurs, stating, Consumers do not need to be at all concerned about amino acid imbalances when the dietary amino acid supply is from the plant-food proteins that make up our usual diets. Mixtures of plant proteins can be fully adequate for meeting human requirements. As a matter of fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that most Americans get more protein than they need.

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The Problem Of Too Much Protein

When you consume more protein than your body needs, it doesnt store as protein. Instead, its converted to fat or eliminated through your kidneys, which contributes to osteoporosis and kidney stones.

And thats not the only problem too much protein can cause. When the International Scholarly Research Network a meta-analysis of 31 studies on protein intake and disease, it concluded that overconsumption of protein was associated with higher rates of cancer, osteoporosis, renal disease, disorders of liver function, and coronary artery disease.

In some of the most important nutritional research conducted in recent years, Valter Longo, PhD, director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, and his team a study in Cell Metabolism in 2014, that tracked 6,381 adults over the age of 50 for nearly 20 years.

The study found that between the ages of 50 and 65, participants who ate a high-protein diet were four times more likely to die of cancer than those who consumed a low-protein diet .

The increase in cancer risk associated with a high-protein diet during these years was on par with smoking 20 cigarettes per day!

A high-protein diet particularly if the proteins are derived from animals is nearly as bad as smoking for your health.

Overall, the study found that people with a high-protein diet were 74% more likely to die of any cause within the 20-year study period than their low-protein counterparts.

What If You Want More Protein

JUST PLANTS? NO MEAT? How do you get enough protein?

If you want to boost your protein levels, you might consider using a healthy plant-based protein source. Shelled seeds , or seeds that have been ground into a powder, are excellent sources.

What about more refined protein supplements? That may not be the best idea. In 2018, the Clean Label Project tested the most popular protein powders on the market. They found that virtually all of the 134 protein powder products tested contained detectable levels of at least one heavy metal, and 55% tested positive for BPA.

Strangely, the plant-based and organic protein powders were not exempt from these problems and in many cases actually fared worse.

But the good news is: So long as you eat a varied diet based around whole foods and get enough total calories, chances are you have no need for protein supplements anyway.

Also Check: G Plan Fat Protein Efficient Diet

Chia Seeds : 6 Grams Of Protein

Ch-ch-ch-chia! Sound familiar? For many folks, their only experience with chia seeds growing up may have been via the infamous Chia Pets. But these teeny little seeds are now becoming an increasingly popular superfood because of their high protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acid content.

Make a chia seed pudding, use chia seeds in smoothies, or add them to salads and oatmeal. And heres an important tip: Like flaxseed, its best to grind your chia seeds to get the most nutrients possible.

What Else Youre Getting When You Eat Plant Vs Animal Protein

Weve compared plant and animal proteins in terms of their molecular composition and protein content. But lets zoom out again and look at the whole food packages that these proteins are actually coming in. The question is, What else are you getting when you eat that protein? Gardner says. And from this point-of-view, Plant and animal sources both have pros and cons, Linsenmeyer says.

Animal products, for instance, are the richest natural sources of some vital micronutrients. One is vitamin D, which is found in eggs, cheese, and ocean fish like salmon and tuna, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In the case of vitamin B12, animal proteins are its only natural source, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine .

But wait! Plant proteins also offer their own unique advantages. Perhaps the biggest one is fiber , Gardner says. Plant foods like beans and whole grains are a double-whammy in this sense, offering sizable hits of fiber and protein, so you can basically maximize your pecs and your poops in one go. Plants also contain a variety of phytochemicalsbioactive compounds including flavonoids, carotenoids, and polyphenols that, some studies suggest, may be linked to lower risk of chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.

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How Much Protein Do Most Of Us Really Need

For the general population, getting 1015 percent of daily calories from protein is sufficient. This is true even for people who lead an active lifestyle.

Government-issued recommendations for protein intake have varied over the years. Currently, the U.S. governments protein RDA is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. The World Health Organization, on the other hand, recommends 0.66 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a 140-pound person, the U.S. RDA translates to about 50 grams of protein a day if that person consumes 2,000 calories in a day, 50 grams of protein is exactly 10 percent of total calories.

How Do Animal And Plant Proteins Differ

These are the best protein monsters that you can get very ...

We humans need all 20 of the amino acids that make up proteins, but these differ between animal and plant foods. Animal foods generally contain complete proteins, while plant foods are often made of incomplete proteins. A complete protein contains all of the nine essential amino acids the ones that cannot be made inside the body, so must be consumed.

Although all the amino acids are necessary, the remaining 11 can be either sourced from food or manufactured inside the body. While plant foods may still have all the essential amino acids, the levels tend to vary. Also, plant proteins are generally harder to digest and are absorbed more slowly.

These differences affect our metabolism. Plant proteins are lower in a group of amino acids known as branched chain amino acids . This group includes leucine, the superstar amino acid found in high concentrations in bodybuilding protein powders.

However, the relative benefits of animal and plant proteins are not straightforward. While it might be great for building muscle, for example, high levels of circulating leucine are also present in people at risk from diabetes.

Recommended Reading: Protein Foods Besides Meat

Finally Can I Get All My Dietary Protein From Vegetables

Its easy to achieve adequate protein intakes if you mix and match your plant sources. No, you are not going to get enough protein from celery or lettuce alone, so incorporate lots of different high protein plant foods in your diet.

The debate about meat and health will continue for many years. But in the meantime, for a healthy omnivorous diet should aim to have red meat no more than three times a week, with fish and poultry making up the other meals. Try a meat-free meal on occasions, using the tips above.

Professor David Cameron-Smith is a regular Fit Planet contributor. A transplanted Australian living in New Zealand, he obtained a PhD in nutritional biochemistry from Deakin University, and undertook postdoctoral training at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. His research interests include the importance of nutrition in the maintenance of optimal health in an ageing population, and the impact of nutrition in regulating the function of muscles.

If you want more tried, tested and true news from the leading edge of health and fitness sign up to get Fit Planet insights and advice straight to your inbox.

Follow the freshest thinking @fitplanetmag.

Tofu Tempeh And Edamame

Tofu, tempeh, and edamame all originate from soybeans.

Soybeans are considered a whole source of protein. This means that they provide your body all the essential amino acids it needs.

Edamame are immature soybeans with a sweet and slightly grassy taste. They need to be steamed or boiled before you eat them. Then, they can be enjoyed on their own or added to soups and salads.

Tofu is made from bean curds pressed together in a process similar to cheesemaking. Meanwhile, tempeh is made by cooking and slightly fermenting mature soybeans, then pressing them into a block.

Tofu doesnt have much taste on its own, but it easily absorbs the flavor of the ingredients its prepared with. Comparatively, tempeh has a characteristic nutty flavor.

Both tofu and tempeh can be used in a variety of recipes, ranging from burgers to soups and chilis.

All three soy-based proteins contain iron, calcium, and 1220 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce serving (

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Are Animal Proteins Better For You Than Plant Proteins

Jan 16, 2019Cedars-Sinai Staff

Does it matter where your protein comes from?

Along with fats and carbohydrates, protein is one of the macronutrients we need to live.

Our bodies use proteins from food to build and repair tissues, as well as make hormones, enzymes, and other things that are vital to our health.

Read: Q& A: Vitamins and Supplements

Traditionally, meat has been thought of as our main source of protein, but there are plenty of diverse protein sources out there.

We talked to nutritionist Stephanie Cramer, administrative dietitian at Cedars-Sinai Clinical Nutrition Services, to help us understand the differences in protein sources.

Do You Have To Eat Animal Products To Get Enough Protein

How can I get protein from plants?

Many people are under the impression that it is necessary to eat animal products, such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, or dairy products, to get all the protein you need. However, it is possible to get all of the protein you need to thrive while eating a plant-exclusive diet, a diet that doesn’t include any animal products.

Recommended Reading: Should I Drink Protein If I Want To Lose Weight

Meat Has More Saturated Fats

Another reason that steak isnt great for you: the fat that often accompanies it. Fat is part of why steaks and burgers are deliciousit adds mouthfeel and flavor. But it also tends to clog up your heart. you get less saturated fat and no cholesterol, Giancoli explains, so youre getting that benefit as well.

Saturated fats are those that are solid at room temperature and tend to contribute to cardiovascular disease because it drives up your total cholesterol levels. That may, in the long run, tip the scales towards the LDL side, which is what clogs up arteries. Foods like nuts, avocados, and fish have far less saturated fats than red and other dark meats. As such, they are dubbed healthy fats.

What Are The Best Sources Of Protein

The bottom line: The best sources of protein are whole plant foods, which provide ample protein without any cholesterol.

Ready to get started? Check out Forks Meal Planner, FOKs easy weekly meal-planning tool to keep you on a healthy plant-based path. To learn more about a whole-food, plant-based diet, visit our Plant-Based Primer.

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