How To Get Enough Protein As Vegetarian

Understand How Much Protein You Need

How Can Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?

This is probably the most important point when it comes to getting enough protein in your diet, and yet it is also the most overlooked. Too many people either give protein absolutely no consideration and so do not get enough, or they end up pursuing a completely arbitrary amount based on something they read on social media or overheard at the gym. This is rarely in line with their personal goals, and they often end up over or undershooting.

If your goal is to lose fat, youll want to aim to consume 2.3-3.1g of protein per kilogram of lean body mass, with lean body mass being your weight, minus the weight of your fat mass. For example, if youre 100kg and 30% bodyfat, you would have 70kg of lean body mass. Its hard to work out your exact lean body mass because knowing your bodyfat percentage is tricky , but if you look at the ideal weight for someone of your height on a BMI chart itll give you a rough idea for you to work with.

*Note, this doesnt mean that you should be this weight, or even that you would be healthier at this weight, its just a reasonable guess as to what your lean body mass is.

If you want to build muscle its little simpler, you only want to look to eat 1.6-2.2g of protein for every kilogram of total bodyweight. Go for the lower end if you carry a little more bodyfat, the higher end if youre leaner.

A Vegetarian Diet During Pregnancy

During pregnancy and when breastfeeding, vegetarians need to make sure they get enough vitamins and minerals for their child to develop healthily.

If you’re bringing up your baby or child on a vegetarian diet, you need to make sure they eat a wide variety of foods to provide the energy and vitamins they need for growth.

Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein

Theres no shortage of lists of high-quality vegan protein sources. But as you might expect, theyre often topped by soy products , seitan, and legumes.

My personal favorite vegan foods for protein in rough, descending order of how often I eat them are:

  • Lentils , 18 grams of protein per cup
  • Chickpeas, 12 grams/cup
  • Tempeh , 41 grams per cup
  • Black beans, 15 grams per cup
  • Nuts and nut butters , varied
  • Tofu, 11 grams per 4 ounces
  • Quinoa, 9 grams per cup
  • Other legumes, varied
  • Grains, varied

I often, but not always, add vegan protein powder to my smoothie each morning depending on my fitness goals at the time. My son, for example, is an athlete trying to gain weight on a vegan diet, so he always includes protein in his smoothie.

Smoothies, in general, are a great way to boost protein intake on a plant-based diet, since you can easily add lots of other high-protein ingredients like walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and almond butter, and even beans .

See my basic smoothie recipe for details on how much of each to add.

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How To Get Protein As A Vegetarian Key Veggie Foods With Protein

Vegetarians can get enough protein each day from beans, pulses and dairy products.

Dairy sources include eggs, cheese, milk, yogurts, fortified soy, oat or rice drinks. Pulse sources are any beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas.

There are also vegetarian foods which include tofu, mycoprotein and tempeh. Nuts and seeds are tasty and protein-filled too.

All these ingredients can be used in a variety of simple meals, or eaten on their own. Pulses in particular are very cheap and good for you as theyre also packed with fibre and minerals.

Other Types Of Cancer

Vegetarian Protein Chart

A soy-rich diet may also help lower your risk of other types of cancer, including endometrial, colon, stomach, and prostate cancers.

For instance, a recent review of 23 studies linked soy-rich diets to a 12% lower risk of dying from cancer, especially cancers of the stomach, large intestine, and lungs .

Another review of 13 studies linked high intakes of soy isoflavones to a 19% lower risk of endometrial cancer .

Moreover, other studies suggest that soy-rich diets may reduce the risk of gut cancers by 7% and colon or colorectal cancers by 812%, especially in women (

Therefore, more research is needed before recommendations can be made.


Research suggests that tofu may safeguard against breast, gut, and prostate cancers. However, more studies are necessary before specific recommendations can be made.

Tofu may also protect against type 2 diabetes.

A 2020 review of studies concluded that participants who regularly ate tofu were less likely to develop this condition .

In another study, women with gestational diabetes who ate a diet rich in soy protein for 6 weeks had significantly lower blood sugar and insulin levels than those who ate no soy protein .

The soy isoflavones found in tofu may be partly responsible. However, a 2017 study on the beneficial effects of soy foods for type 2 diabetes failed to find a direct link for tofu specifically (

Although these results are promising, studies are limited and more research is needed.

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How Much Protein Do I Need

Protein is essential because its used to build and repair cells. The NHS says we need 0.75g of protein for each kilogram of body mass.

So if you weigh 70kg you should aim for around 52.5g of protein each day.

On average, if your BMI is in the healthy range, it works out at 55g for men and 45g for women.

But if like me, youve started vegetarian life floundering around in the fridge wondering how much protein a lettuce contains, heres a handy guide to some common foods:

  • Medium-sized egg 6.4g
  • 400g tin of Heinz beans 20g
  • 100g of peas 5g
  • 100g of non-fat Greek yogurt 10g
  • 100g of Quorn 14.5g
  • 100g chickpeas 19g
  • 100ml of milk 3.5g

So if you have a tin of beans as part of a plant-based lunch and add some grated cheese, youre roughly there. Or try a chickpea salad with a Greek yogurt for lunch and add some peas to your dinner bingo.

Is It Necessary To Use Whey Protein For Fat Loss Or Muscle Building

No. Whey protein is not necessary to use whey protein for fat loss or muscle building. If you can get your daily macros recommendation from the food you eat, there is no need to spend money on whey protein.

For example- If your daily calorie recommendation is 2000 for muscle building, you can follow the sample meal plan we discussed in this blog earlier.

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I Pair Lower Protein Sources With Higher Protein Sources Because It Really Does Add Up

Something I had to come to terms with when I started increasing my protein was that not every food out there is high in protein. Obvious, I know, but in the beginning I only ate foods that had the most grams per bite: protein powder, eggs, lentils, yogurt, anything that had 10 to 20 grams. As you can imagine, that strategy lost its sparkle fast, and I was eating large quantities of the same foods .

So instead, I began adding smaller sources of protein like chia seeds , hemp hearts , almond butter , and pumpkin seeds to my meals. Of course, I thought that 4 grams wouldnt make much of a difference, but if I add some chia seeds to my smoothie, a tablespoon of hemp hearts to a salad, and snack on some pumpkin seeds, Ive now consumed 17 grams of plant-based protein without tryingand that definitely makes a difference.

Will I Get Enough Protein Without Meat

How to Get Enough Protein as a Vegetarian

Hi gang. I was inspired to share this post because this is the #1 question I receive on a daily basis about going plant-based. And look, I want to start this off by saying, I totally get it. I 100% relate to you. It can be scary. So what can you do? What I did! Educate yourself. And then test it out. Even as a vegan diet becomes more and more accepted into society with the bounty of research popping up everyday in support of this diet being the best for your health, the animals, and the future of our planet, people still get scared off due to the p word.

Now Im not here to be your doctor and you should definitely consult with them when making any lifestyle changes, but I am here to maybe get a little controversial and tell you point blank that from my own research and through my training as a holistic health practitioner, Im pretty 99.99999% sure no one in the history of the world has ever died of protein deficiency. So, lets dive in, shall we?

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Which Foods Contain Iron What Are The Best Meat

As mentioned, iron is typically associated with meat. Red meat, poultry, pork and seafood are all good sources of the mineral. That said, there are plenty of vegetarian sources of iron. Here are your best bets:

Dark chocolate: If you need another excuse to eat this rich treat, let it be this: just 3 ounces will deliver 6.9 mg of iron. Snack on a few squares, or if youre feeling fancy, make this Chocolate Bark with Caramelized Quinoa.

It Helps Prevent Vitamin B12 Deficiency In Vegans

Vitamin B12 is needed for a healthy nervous system, DNA production, energy metabolism and the creation of red blood cells (

8 ).

Consuming nutritional yeast can be an effective way to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency while on a vegan diet.

One study including 49 vegans found that consuming 1 tablespoon of fortified nutritional yeast daily restored vitamin B12 levels in those who were deficient .

In this study, the nutritional yeast contained 5 mcg of vitamin B12 per tablespoon, which is slightly more than double the daily recommended amount for adults.

Vegans should look for fortified varieties of nutritional yeast to ensure that adequate amounts of B12 are in the product.

Summary Fortified nutritional yeast contains high amounts of vitamin B12 and can be used to help prevent deficiency in vegans.

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How Much Protein Do We Need A Day

In the UK, adults are advised to eat 0.75g of protein for each kilogram they weigh, based on the Reference Nutrient Intake . This will vary over your lifetime and depend on your individual circumstance. For example, a more active person, such as an athlete in training, will require more protein than someone living a sedentary lifestyle.

On average, guidelines suggest men should aim to eat around 55g of protein a day and women should aim for around 45g of protein daily. Read on to discover how you can meet your daily needs.

How To Increase Protein Intake In Your Diet

How to get enough protein on a vegan diet

Indian vegetarian diet is primarily carbohydrates. One should make a conscious effort to increase the overall protein intake, irrespective of their goal to lose weight or maintain weight.

There are a few simple tips to add more protein to your diet

  • Calculate your daily calorie requirement from calorie calculator.
  • Based on the total calorie requirement, 25-40% should come from protein.
  • Protein requirement = total calorie requirement * protein percentage / 4
  • Now, divide this protein requirement into 3 equal amounts and include it in your meals. For example, if your protein requirement is 120gm, you need to take 40gm protein in breakfast, lunch and dinner. Distributing protein intake like this will result in higher consumption of protein in your body.
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    High Protein Intake And Osteoporosis

    When high amounts of protein are consumed, buffers from the bones are released in order to neutralize the acids. This process can eventually result in the dissolving and weakening of the bones, known as osteoporosis.6 The concentration of protein is much less for plants than animal products. Thus, plant-based foods are a better source of calcium than animal sources in reducing the risk for osteoporosis. Examples of plant sources high in calcium are dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, seaweed and tofu. In addition, fruits and vegetables have an alkalizing effect on the body when they act as a buffer to help prevent osteoporosis and other acid-based disorders7.

    Best Plant Protein Sources

    If youre a vegetarian but not a vegan, you might incorporate these other protein sources into your diet:

    • Eggs or egg whites: Eggs are a low-cost and nutritious source of protein. Each egg provides 6 to 8 grams. If you use egg whites, youll get fewer calories, but youll miss out on vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins housed in the yolk.
    • Dairy products: Milk, cheese and yogurt are excellent sources of protein and calcium. To get the most protein bang for your buck, choose cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt. Both pack 13 grams of protein or more per serving, and you can dress them up with fruit, nuts or granola for a filling breakfast or snack.

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    How Much Protein Do Vegans Need

    Not as much as people would have you believe. Somehow, everyone got the idea that we need exorbitant amounts of protein, way more than is even recommended. I know, its fun to blame government agencies and cry conspiracy, but if you actually look at the recommendations, theyre not that high at all.

    For example, the U.S. recommended daily allowance of protein is .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight for the general population.

    Protein for vegan athletes is somewhat more complicated, as greater tissue-repair need require more protein and general, and athletes tend to pay more attention to amino acid balance.

    Some successful endurance athletes get as little as 5% of their calories from protein and since a gram of protein contains about four calories, thats less than 35 grams of protein a day for a 2500-calorie-per-day diet!

    At the other extreme are vegan bodybuilders and those new to the plant-based diet who are accustomed to higher amounts of protein and worried about what will happen when they stop eating meat. They aim for higher amounts of protein, often 25 to 30 percent of calories. Its hard to get this amount from whole plant-foods, so they often turn to vegan protein supplements to get the extra boost theyre looking for.

    Limit Foods High In Fat Salt And Sugar

    How To Get Enough Protein on a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet

    Foods high in salt, fat and sugar, such as cream, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, pastries, ice cream, cakes and puddings, should be eaten less often and in small amounts.

    Foods in this group mainly provide energy in the form of fats and sugars, but may only provide a very small amount of other nutrients.

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    How Much Protein Is There In Plants

    Plenty! Plant foods can provide all the essential amino acids. These nutrients are protein building blocks that cannot be made by your body. Ensure that most of your meals contain good sources of protein, such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, soya alternatives to milk and yoghurt, or peanuts.

    Need more information? Read our detailed PDF.

    You can compare your diet to our guidelines using the free VNutrition app.

    These are general guidelines about nutrition. If you have concerns about your diet, please talk to your doctor about seeing a dietitian.

    How Do Vegans Get Enough Protein From Their Diet

    With many consumers opting to ditch meat and dairy products for the sake of the environment, their health, or for the animals, where do vegans get their protein from? is one of the most asked questions of the moment. This often is closely followed by can they get enough of it? and is it the same quality as animal-based protein?

    The short answers to the above questions are: from a variety of sources, yes they can, and yes it is. For longer, more detailed explanations on why protein isnt an issue for vegans, weve put together a comprehensive guide, starting with what protein does for the body.

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    The Digestibility Of Plant Based Proteins

    There are 2 aspects of protein quality.

    First are the nineessential amino acid profile of a protein source.

    Its not a big deal as long as youre eating a variety of foods. Even if one protein source is lacking certain essential amino acids, some other food you eat throughout the day will make up for it .

    For example, beans are generally low in methionine, but if you eat some seeds or oats , you get enough of all essential amino acids.

    The second aspect is that plant based protein doesnt absorb as well as animal protein.

    This is true, many studies have shown this. Its mainly due to antinutrients that inhibit absorption of nutrients.

    Its not a huge amount, but it is significant.

    So vegans might need a little more protein, but its not something to worry about too much.

    For example, a well-known vegan bodybuilder, Nimai Delgado, says he eats about 150-160 grams of protein while weighing 180 lbs .

    Plant protein is a bit lower quality than protein from animal sources, but unless youre an elite athlete , its not going to make a significant difference in planning your diet.

    How Much Protein Do Vegans Need Per Day

    Get Enough Protein on a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet did a thorough review on how much protein people need, containing over 100 references to peer-reviewed papers .

    They found that sedentary people need at least 1.2g/kg , while experienced lifters need at most 3.3g/kg but thats on the very high end.

    For example, a sedentary 150 lb person would need at least 82.5 grams of protein per day, which isnt all that much.

    In reality, even a vegan trying to gain weight doesnt need that much.

    In a highly referenced metastudy , they found the optimal amount of protein for athletes is closer to 1.8g/kg . Anything past that does not help maintain or gain muscle:

    There is normally no advantage to consuming more than 0.82g/lb of protein per day to preserve or build muscle for natural trainees. This already includes a mark-up, since most research finds no more benefits after 0.64g/lb.

    Vegan protein requirements arent significantly different from an omnivores.

    While the optimal amount of protein depends on the person, athletes dont need much more than 0.82 grams of protein per lb of body weight, and sedentary vegans only need 0.55 g/lb. More wont hurt, but it wont help.

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