How To Get Protein With Plant Based Diet

Legumes Rich In Protein

Plant-based Protein – How to get enough protein on a plant-based diet

Legumes tend to be very rich in protein and have a host of other health benefits. They are a must in a well balanced plant-based diet.

Below youll find a list of fairly common legumes rich in protein.

28.42 g

Please notice that edamame and soybeans differ in nutritional content due to the time of harvesting. The soybeans listed in the nuts and seeds section are mature, while edamame are soybeans harvested earlier on when the beans are still green and soft.

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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Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council . Find out more at

All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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But What Exactly Is A Plant

Is it a vegan diet? Vegetarian? A quasi-plant-sometimes-meat diet? There’s some confusion around the term ‘plant-based’ because as Sharon Palmer, M.S.F.S., R.D.N., The Plant-Powered Dietitian, explains, there’s no official definition. To some, it means eating a 100% vegan diet. To others, a plant-based diet means eating mostly plants, while occasionally enjoying meat, fish, eggs and dairy. The basic tenets, howevereating more whole plant foods like whole grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and reducing intake of animal productsare the same.

Health Risks Of A Vegetarian And Vegan Diet

10 of Top Plant

While there are many positives to a plant-based diet, it simply doesnt work for some people. As you begin any diet, pay attention to your biofeedback, such as your energy, bowel movements, skin health, blood sugar response, triglycerides, and nutrient levels. Make sure to have blood work drawn, as long-term nutrient deficiencies can lead to serious health problems.

The following symptoms are markers for nutritional deficiencies, which should be investigated:

  • Symptoms of anemia,
  • Hair loss
  • Vitamin B12
  • Iron

Its a good idea to routinely test for these nutrient levels with the SpectraCell test and supplement if needed.

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Processed Vegan Foods Rich In Protein

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:

Why Choose More Plant

Shifting dietary patterns to reduce meat consumption and include more protein plants can bring great benefits to both our health and the planet.

Besides having a lower environmental footprint, whole plant foods, such as pulses, legumes and vegetables tend to provide more fibre and antioxidants while being lower in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol compared to animal proteins such as meat and dairy. This is part of the reason why research suggests that people who eat more plant-based tend to have a lower risk of some diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.1

You can read more about the benefits of plant-based diets here.

Trying to eat more plant-based can also make us more creative in the kitchen and reach for foods or ingredients that otherwise we would not consider. This will not only introduce us to a surprising new range of flavours and textures, but also expand the range of beneficial nutrients and compounds that we get from our diets!

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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.

Any Other Nutrients Ill Miss On A Vegan Diet

How much PROTEIN do I need? plant based vegan diet

Thats about as complicated as it gets regarding protein for people on plant-based diets. However, there are some things to be aware of, particularly with vegan diets. You may need to make some adjustments to make sure youre getting enough B12, calcium and a few other nutrients. This can also usually be addressed within your diet. If thats something you are concerned about, let me know and I can make that the topic of a future article.

If you have any questions or would like some more specific advice, you can contact me through the contact form on my website

Daryl is the founder of Fit Beyond Fifty, an online health and fitness resource for those of us who are aged fifty and over who are looking to remain fit, healthy and strong into the future. Fit Beyond Fifty provides evidence-based nutrition and fitness resources to help you remain healthy and active and enjoying life!

Daryl is a nutritionist and personal trainer with a masters degree in Human Nutrition and a diploma in Fitness. He has over 20 years of experience in the fitness industry and has a background in strength training and endurance training that spans over 40 years. He is a two-time Australian champion powerlifter and holds 2 Australian records which have remained unbroken for over 18 years. He also has experience in endurance sports having completed 7 Ironman 70.3 triathlons and numerous sprint triathlons.

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Increase In Dietary Fiber

Many modern diseases are caused by lack of dietary fiber because most people simply dont eat enough plants. While studies show modern-day humans consume a maximum daily amount of 30/g fiber, our ancestors consumed over 100/g per day of dietary fiber.

How a High-fiber Plant-based Diet Improves Your Health

  • Binds up and eliminates toxins
  • Improves satiety and blood sugar control
  • Feeds your gut bacteria and creates postbiotics

A high-fiber diet allows good bacteria to thrive. The bacteria then ferment the fiber into beneficial postbiotics, such as :

  • Short-chain fatty acids
  • Cellular components of bacteria cells
  • Neurotransmitters, hormones, and their metabolites
  • Secondary bile acids

Among all postbiotics, butyrate is the most studied and perhaps the most beneficial. Some benefits of butyrate include:

  • Boosts mitochondria function, balances the immune response, and activates gut repair epigenetics
  • Used as an antifungal and antimicrobial
  • Helps with blood sugar control and obesity
  • inhibits cancer formation, especially colon cancer

Health benefits of dietary fiber intake

The highest fiber intake is great for your gut, as it is associated with a reduced prevalence of:

  • Esophageal cancer

Do You Have To Stop Eating Meat

Replacing even just a few meaty meals with meatless ones can lead to improvements in health, such as lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels and less fat around your middle.

A 2016 study of 131,342 people found that trading just 3 percent of calories from red meat for an equivalent amount of plant protein resulted in a 12 percent lower risk of dying from any cause. If plant protein replaced processed red meatsuch as deli meat or hot dogsit equated to a 34 percent lower risk of death.

A recent review published in the journal Circulation analyzed 36 studies comparing diets high in red meat with diets high in other types of animal and plant protein. The researchers found that eating plant protein in place of red meat resulted in a 10.20 mg/dL decrease in total cholesterol and a 7.65 mg/dL decrease in LDL cholesterol. But even swapping a single serving of red meat with an equivalent amount of nuts or soybeans resulted in improved cholesterol levels. And a 2018 study that compared a low-calorie vegetarian diet with a low-calorie Mediterranean diet, which includes moderate amounts of meat, poultry, and fish, found that the two were equally effective at promoting weight loss.

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What About Protein Supplements

Some protein powders are plant-based. Depending upon the plants used to make the powders, they may be complete or incomplete proteins.

The position of the American Dietetic Association is that while food supplements can help people meet their daily nutrition goals, eating a wide variety of nutrients rich in protein is usually a better strategy for meeting daily goals.

Some protein supplements may also be high in sugar or sodium to improve the taste, so it is important to read the nutrition labels.

What The Experts Say About Plant

Do vegan diets give you enough protein? Here are our favorite plant ...

Before we move onto good vegan and vegetarian protein sources for getting this amount, lets take a look at what some well-known and credentialed vegans say about protein.

  • In the documentary Forks Over Knives, China Study author Dr. T. Colin Campbell says that you need 8 to 10 percent of your calories to come from protein.
  • Vegan Ironman Brendan Brazier, in his appearance on No Meat Athlete radio, says he eats about 15 percent protein when training for short events, and close to 20 percent protein during periods of heavy training for long endurance events.
  • Tim Ferriss writes in The 4-Hour Body that ultrarunner Scott Jurek gets 15 to 20 percent of his calories from protein.
  • Matt Ruscigno, in the post he wrote for No Meat Athlete about protein for vegetarians, says he recommends that his athlete clients get 10 to 15 percent of their calories from protein.

Notice that everybody expresses things in percentage protein instead of grams, in order to more easily account for different body masses.

How does our 83 grams of protein, for a 140-pound female endurance athlete stack up in terms of percentage of total calories?

Well, the first thing to note is that a gram of protein contains four calories. So:

83 grams * 4 calories/gram = 332 calories of protein

322 calories of protein / 2375 total calories = 13.6% of calories from protein

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Why You Need Protein

Protein is an essential building block that your body requires to synthesize muscle tissue, make hormones, carry oxygen, fight off infection, and repair damaged tissue. There are nine essential amino acids that you must eat on a regular basis for your body to function optimally. Some plant sources provide good sources of all nine essential amino acids, such as quinoa and soy. Even plant foods that may be lower in one essential amino acid can still help contribute to your amino acid pool for the day. Its important to consume a variety of plant foods to get all of those amino acids in your diet. But dont over worry about combining plant proteins at each mealjust get a variety! Learn more about plant protein quality here.

Plant proteins are slightly less digestible, so you many need more protein to make up for it to make up for that on a plant-based diet. On average, you should aim for 1.0 1.1 grams of protein per kilogram of healthy body weight to meet your protein needs. Some people may need a bit more protein than the average personathletes, body builders, and elderly people may need more.

Dont We Need Protein From Animal Sources

Until recently, researchers hadnt been sure whether plant-based protein aids your tired muscles as well as meat. However, the results of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that plant protein and animal protein appear to benefit muscle health equally. This further substantiated by an article released at the International Society of Sports Nutrition Symposium, with the statement, With a proper combination of sources, vegetable proteins may provide similar benefits as protein from animal sources.

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Easy Ways To Pack Protein Into Your Plant

Theres no question that a healthy eating plan should include plenty of protein. The trick is getting the right mix, including plant-based proteins.

While animal meats like steak and poultry and even meatless meats are common sources of protein, they also have plenty of saturated fats and sodium, which are much less healthy.

What we find is that animal proteins are typically more likely to be associated with poor health outcomes than plant-based proteins, says Columbus Batiste, MD, an interventional cardiologist and chief of cardiology at Kaiser Permanentes Riverside and Moreno Valley Medical Centers in Southern California.

The good news is that there are plenty of whole, plant-based proteins without these health risks that also include nutrients like fiber and antioxidants. Whether youre exploring a vegetarian diet or just want to eat healthier, here are 3 tips to consider if youre thinking about adding more plant-based protein to your diet.

Find out where youre already getting protein

Before making any major changes to your diet, break down the nutritional value of your favorite meals. You may be surprised by how much protein youre already getting from things like beans, vegetables, and even some fruits.

Common plant-based protein sources include:

The key is finding enough plant-based proteins on your plate at every meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, says Dr. Batiste. If you choose to eat animal-rich proteins, they need to be small amounts.

How Do Vegans Get Protein Pretty Easily It Turns Out

How do I get enough protein on a plant based diet? | Dawn Jackson Blatner | NOW You Know

We may primarily associate protein with animal sources, but the reality is that when it comes to the building blocks of the body, plants arent lacking at all. So go ahead and enjoy your favorite whole-food plant-based recipes, and dont bother with the calculator. If youre eating healthy, whole plant-based foods, then youre giving your body everything it needs.

Thats how vegans get protein.

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It Is Very Nutritious

Nutritional yeast is a great source of protein, B vitamins and trace minerals.

Fortified nutritional yeast contains more B vitamins than unfortified varieties, as extra amounts are added during manufacturing.

However, unfortified varieties still contain a moderate amount of B vitamins, which form naturally as the yeast grows.

Some of the main nutritional benefits of nutritional yeast include:

  • It is a complete protein: Nutritional yeast contains all nine essential amino acids that humans must get from food. One tablespoon contains 2 grams of protein, making it an easy way for vegans to add high-quality protein to meals (
  • , 4).

Exact nutritional values vary between brands, so always read labels to find the variety that meets your needs.

If you are using nutritional yeast to add extra vitamins and minerals to your diet, look for fortified varieties with higher amounts of added nutrients.

If you are using nutritional yeast simply for its flavor, you may be less concerned about whether it is fortified or not.

Summary Fortified nutritional yeast is a vegan-friendly source of complete protein, B vitamins and trace minerals required for optimal health.

Nearly Complete Protein Sources For Vegetarians And Vegans

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Despite what some people may think, there are many ways to get enough protein on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

However, not all plant-based proteins are complete proteins, meaning protein sources that contain adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. While your body can make some of them, nine have to be obtained through your diet. These are referred to as essential amino acids and include (

  • tryptophan
  • valine

Animal products like beef, fish, dairy, and eggs contain enough of every one of these essential amino acids. Thus, theyre considered complete proteins .

However, many plant sources of protein are too low in or missing one or more of these essential amino acids. Theyre considered incomplete protein sources.

Still, given that plant foods contain varying amounts of amino acids, you can manage to get enough of each essential amino acid throughout the day by eating a varied diet and combining complementary plant proteins .

For example, grains like rice are too low in lysine to be considered a complete source of protein. Yet, by also eating lentils or beans, which are higher in lysine, throughout the day, you can be sure to obtain all nine essential amino acids .

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