How To Add More Protein To Your Vegetarian Diet
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There are many ways to get more protein into your vegetarian diet it just takes a little planning.
Protein provides energy and helps your body function properly. Its one of three macronutrients that the human body requires. The other two macronutrients are fats and carbohydrates.
You can get protein either through meat or plants, but studies show that eating protein from plants is often healthier. A 2016 Harvard University study of more than 131,000 people showed that those who got their protein from plants had a lower risk of death from heart disease and other causes. This was especially true among people who had at least one unhealthy lifestyle factor, such as smoking, heavy drinking, being overweight or obese, or lack of exercise.
Add Protein Powder To Your Recipes
One of the sneakier ways to add protein into your diet is by adding in some extra protein powder. This can be done with breakfast sweets, such as pancakes and waffles. It can also be added into smoothies, muffins, or anything you bake. Depending on which protein powder you use, you can add up to 25 grams of protein per serving. You can also add different flavored protein powders to help add or enhance the flavor of whatever food youre making.
Choose A Few Days Every Week To Eat Completely Vegan
This could be eating all vegan on the weekends, or it could be eating all vegan during the work week. Sometimes it can be helpful to have the whole day blocked out to be vegan, and for some people they feel this makes the decision-making process easier.
It also means youll be learning vegan recipes and ideas for each meal. Youll learn breakfast recipes, lunch recipes, dinner recipes, and recipes for desserts, treats or snacks you might have on those days. Youll end up with a well-rounded understanding of how to eat vegan for a full day.
This approach is great too as you can really compare how you feel physically on all-vegan eating days versus others, to see what the improvements and changes are in your health and be able to accurately attribute them to your nutrition.
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Use A Pesto With Pine Nuts And Tree Nuts
Pine nuts, traditionally used in pestos, have about 9 grams of protein per half a cup, which is a great option for spreads on sandwiches and for quinoa pastas. But if you add a handful of tree nuts such as almonds or walnuts to your pine nut pesto, you can almost double the amount of protein you’re getting!
Here Are 21 Easy Alternative Ways To Add Protein To Your Diet:
- 1 cup peanuts: 41 grams of protein.
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds:39 grams.
- 1 cup cheese :36 grams
- 1 cup tempeh:34 grams
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese:28 grams
- 1 cup oats:26 grams
- ½ cup tofu:22 grams
- 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt:22 grams
- 1 cup kidney beans:21 grams
- 1 cup white beans:19 grams
- 1 cup pinto beans:19 grams
- 1 cup lentils:18 grams
- 1 cup edamame:17 grams
- 1 cup lima beans:15 grams
- 1 veggie burger:11 grams
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter:9 grams
- 1 cup tofu yogurt: 9 grams
- 1 cup cooked quinoa: 8 grams
- 1 cup skim milk:8 grams
- 1 cup soymilk:7 grams
- 1 tablespoon miso:2 grams
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Eat Proteins Before Carbs
In this study, participants ate two identical meals on two separate days but changed the order in which they ate the proteins and carbs.
The researchers found that the participants glucose and post-meal insulin levels were lower when they had eaten the proteins first.
Research shows that protein has a satiating effect on appetite, helping people to feel fuller for longer. This is, in part, because protein decreases levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
A found that consuming 2530 g of protein at every meal can help regulate the appetite and facilitate weight management.
Top Crackers With Nut Butters Or Cheese
You have Wongs permission to eat cheese and crackers to fill you upjust remember to make sure your meals are balanced throughout the day, so you dont overdo it on calorie intake. If cheese upsets your tummy, go for peanut butter and crackers, as a way to make sure youre fulfilled when there are still hours to go until dinner time.
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Use Protein Powder As Needed
If youre struggling with the above suggestions, or are in the process of working on them, including a little protein powder in your diet is another great way to increase your protein intake. A single scoop of protein powder averages 20 grams of protein per serving, which is the equivalent to roughly 2.5 ounces of chicken, 3 ounces of steak, or 3 large eggs, making it a simple way to quickly boost protein intake. However, protein powder should always be considered a supplement to a healthy diet, not a replacement for one. So do your best to look for ways to eat more protein with real food and use a protein powder only as long as needed.
The Health Benefits Of Protein
Protein gives you the energy to get up and goand keep going. While too much protein can be harmful to people with kidney disease, diabetes, and some other conditions, eating the right amount of high-quality protein:
- Keeps your immune system functioning properly, maintains heart health and your respiratory system, and speeds recovery after exercise.
- Is vital to the growth and development of children and for maintaining health in your senior years.
- Can help reduce your risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Can help you think clearly and may improve recall.
- Can improve your mood and boost your resistance to stress, anxiety, and depression.
- May help you maintain a healthy weight by curbing appetite, making you feel full longer, and fueling you with extra energy for exercising.
As well as being imperative to feeling healthy and energetic, protein is also important to the way you look. Eating high-quality protein can help you maintain healthy skin, nails, and hair, build muscle, and maintain lean body mass while dieting.
While most people eating a Western diet get a sufficient quantity of protein each day, many of us are not getting the quality of protein we need.
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Harness The Power Of Protein Powder
You can do a lot more with protein powder than shake it up with some water or milk. I prefer to use my protein powder for baking!
Whether you mix a scoop into your morning oatmeal or use it to make a chocolate crumb crust, having some protein powder readily accessible is an easy way to get more protein into your diet. Adding protein powder to your recipes is also a great way to add flavor and cut some carbs.
The Bodybuilding.com healthy recipe database is full of fun ways to use protein powder. Check it out and try a recipe today!
Add Sauces And Seasonings
Research shows that the taste and flavour of high-protein foods can encourage older adults to consume more of them. And taste and flavour are easily added with sauces and seasoning.
In studies where we have offered older adults a hot chicken meal either with or without sauce or seasoning, we find more chicken was eaten from the meals with sauce or seasoning compared to plain meals. Meals with sauces and seasonings were also rated as more pleasant and tastier than the plain meals.
Adding sauces and seasonings to meals can increase the consumption of high-protein foods. Participants also subsequently ate equal amounts of protein at the next meal following flavoured meals and plain meals, meaning that their protein intake was increased overall.
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Sprinkle Pumpkin Seeds Over Your Salads Or Oatmeal
“Eating a handful of pumpkin seeds each day will provide you with the recommended daily nutrients such as proteins, amino acids, minerals, fibers, vitamins, and complex carbs,” Harju-Westman explained. These seeds can be roasted for 30 minutes and added into your lunch salad or sprinkled onto your morning oats, she said.
Always Keep Protein Powder Handy
Just like you keep some deodorant for the sweaty days, hair-ties for when you just *cant* with your hair, and lipstick for an impromptu happy hour, Dale suggests keeping another must-have item at hand: protein powder. I always keep a mini Ziploc of high-protein, zero-carb powder in my purse to make sure Im never hurting for my post-workout recoveryor a healthier snack choice at work, she says. Watch for the signs youre not getting enough protein.
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Choose Eggs Over Cereal
Cereal servings are often much smaller than a traditional bowl’s size, leading to overeating with very little protein. Swap your cereal for eggshard-boiled, soft scrambled, or however you like themfor a fat-burning and delicious meal. If you’re craving something earthy and sweet, add sweet peppers and root vegetables and double down on toppings like herbs and hot sauce that will only cost you a few calories. Wondering which eggs to buy? Cage-free, farm-fresh, organic? We decipher what’s what in our report on 26 Things You Need To Know Before Buying A Carton of Eggs !
Planning To Add Protein To Your Diet
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Dip Your Snacks Into Hummus
If you love to dunk your snacks in any sort of dip, perhaps give hummus a try to add a bit more protein into your diet. While most people use dips such as ranch dressing, onion dip, blue cheese or spinach dip, these are filled with unhealthy fats that dont add much nutritional value. Instead, opt for dipping your chips or carrot sticks in hummus, which is made from protein rich chickpeas. One serving of hummus contains almost 8 grams of protein in only 160 calories, making it the perfect dip to help you reach your protein intake goals.
Add Quinoa And Black Beans To Homemade Veggie Burgers
Move over, beef burgers veggie burgers with quinoa and black beans are packed with fiber and have anti-inflammatory properties. No, you won’t get that juicy, beefy taste, but you might be pleasantly surprised by how much better you feel afterward. If you’re feeling a little nervous about making your own patties, then start by scoping out our guide to the 32 Best and Worst Veggie Burgers.
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Include Some Protein In Side Dishes
The discussion about proteins tends to revolve around main dishes like meat or fish. People seem to forget about side dishes that may be the most significant source of their daily dietary protein requirements.
Beans, legumes, and some grains are perfect side dishes that you could incorporate a little more often in your meals. Consider whipping up a batch of hummus and make some black bean burgers weekly.
Another popular side dish rich in protein is quinoa. Its a gluten-free grain thats also rich in fiber. Every serving provides six grams of protein.
The grain is best accompanied by stir-fries or added to salads for an additional dose of protein.
But First: What Is Protein
Protein is an essential macronutrient made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are 22 amino acids in total, including nine essential amino acids that the body cant produce on its own. These amino acids must come from food.
Any foods or combination of foods that contains these nine amino acids is known as a complete protein. Foods that dont contain all nine amino acids are known as incomplete proteins. As a general rule, animal proteins tend to be complete, while plant-based proteins tend to be incomplete .
The USDA recommends46 grams of protein per day for adult women and 56 grams for adult men. Alternately, the International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends basing daily protein intake on current body weight. They suggest 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for active adults. Using this method, a 150-pound person should eat 95 to 136 grams of protein per day.
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Getting Too Little Protein
Protein deficiency means not getting enough protein in your diet. Protein deficiency is rare in Australia, as the Australian diet generally includes far more protein than we actually need. However, protein deficiency may occur in people with special requirements, such as older people and people following strict vegetarian or vegan diets.
Symptoms of protein deficiency include:
- wasting and shrinkage of muscle tissue
- slow growth .
Increase Your Protein Portion Size
The quickest, and arguably easiest, way to increase your protein intake is simply to eat a larger portion of the protein you are already eating. Eating one egg for breakfast? Eat 2. Eating 1/2 can of tuna for lunch? Eat the whole can. Eating 3 ounces of chicken for dinner? Eat 4 ounces of chicken. By simply increasing the portion size of your protein source at every meal, even if its small, you can easily increase your daily protein intake without much effort.
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Why Do We Need Protein
Protein is an essential nutrient, responsible for multiple functions in your body, including building tissue, cells and muscle, as well as making hormones and anti-bodies. Everyone needs protein in their diet, but if you do endurance sports or weight training you may benefits from increase your protein intake, as well as factoring it into your training routine at specific times to reap its muscle-building benefits.
Studies also suggest that as we get older we may benefit from eating more protein because it helps minimise the muscle loss associated with aging.
How To Make The Switch
Along with slowly incorporating more plant proteins into your diet, Phillips has other tips.
Dont go cold turkey and cut out all meat entirely, especially if youre someone who eats a lot of meat.
If you eat meat every day and you try to stop altogether, its going to feel really stressful, Phillips says.
If it feels stressful, youre more likely to give up. Instead, be strategic with how often you eat plant proteins versus meat proteins. Try doing Meatless Monday, which is a popular eating pattern that, you guessed it, involves going meatless every Monday.
If you start small, like focusing on plant proteins one day a week, and then build up to two or three times a week, youre more likely to establish long-term habits.
Another thing to keep in mind is how processed your plant proteins are. If youre regularly eating things like veggie burgers and alternative meat options, thats going to be less sustainable than eating whole foods that have been minimally processed. Processing food takes energy and resources and often involves side ingredients like corn, Phillips says, which aren’t grown in a sustainable way.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is try out different plant proteins and different ways of incorporating them into your diet and find out what works best for you.
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How Much Protein Do You Need
Protein is required for your body to function properly. An insufficient amount of protein in your diet could lead to health problems, such as muscle loss. However, consuming too much protein may cause your body to begin storing the excess in the form of fat.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have put together a series of Dietary Guidelines for Americans. They recommend that girls and women over 14 years of age intake about 46 grams of protein per day.
Men ages 19 and up should intake roughly 56 grams of protein per day. Everyone should receive 10-35% of their daily calories from some kind of protein.
Older people who are losing muscle mass or individuals who are overweight should speak to a dietician about how much protein is healthy to consume each day.