Protein Sources for Vegetarians
Namaste, veggie heads! Whether you recently crossed over to the vegetarian side or have been a veggie head for most of your life, you know it’s important to your health and appearance to get enough protein. Of course, you’ve heard a barrage of reasons why you shouldn’t be a vegetarian, but you’ve also learned to completely ignore internet “nutritionists”. Right? (Wax on, wax off.)
Protein is like your body’s foreman and construction crew. It builds and repairs things–important things. From your muscles and organs to your skin, hair and nails, it is the maestro of all things needed to legit live.
Plus, it requires the most energy to digest, thereby boosting caloric burn and weight loss, if that’s your goal.
So if you’re not getting it from meat, where do you get it? Well, grasshoppa, we have that info for you.
But beware: a lot of non-meat protein sources can be high in saturated fats and/or cholesterol, so it’s important to identify go-to options that are healthy and high in protein and mono/polysaturated fats.
First, let’s talk about the go-to protein source of a lot of vegetarians covet: soy.
Soy as a Protein Source
Soy is a favorite of many veggie heads and studies support its contribution to building lean mass. Isolated from the soybean, soy protein is chalked full of glutamine, arginine—it actually contains all nine essential amino acids.
There are numerous products out there such as soy patties, breakfast patties, soy burgers and the like, packing in around 10 grams of protein per serving on average. An ounce of soybeans has around 4 grams.
However; there are conflicting studies about soy’s health benefits, or lack thereof. To sum it up, as long as it is not your main source, and you enjoy it moderately, studies show it can be beneficial.
It’s important to note that if you have thyroid issues or migraines, you may want to limit your intake, or remove it altogether.
Soy naturally contains isoflavones which are compounds only found in plants that resemble human estrogen. The isoflavones in soy can absorb some of the iodine that would otherwise be used by the thyroid. Soy products are also high in free glutamic acid. Free glutamic acid is a well-known migraine trigger.
Whew, now that we addressed that elephant in the room, let’s move onto other sources.
Eggs as a Protein Source
Eggs contain around 6 grams of protein and can partake in any part of the day’s meals. Breakfast as a sandwich, lunch as a hardboiled tummy filler, and dinner as a salad booster. If you’re not into the yolks or what an option with less cholesterol—egg whites are a great choice.
Egg whites contain around 5 grams for every 3 tablespoons and contain less cholesterol than your yolk-in egg.
Vegetables as a Protein Source
Veggie Heads rejoice! Yes, vegetables contain protein—and some tasty ones are on the list, to boot. There are also nuts, seeds, dairy and beans to choose from to get your muscle building protein while being a vegetarian. Keep scrolling to see the comparison of protein to meat sources. You’ll see vegetarians can do JUST fine without meat.
Nuts & Seeds
|Hemp Seeds||2 TBSP||11g|
|LF Yogurt||1 cup||14g|
|Whole wheat Spaghetti||2oz||10g|
Fruits have some protein but most fall under 3 grams. Beans also offer protein, but many are higher in calories, and of course, you get added perk of gas.
But, if you’re a bean lover, keep them at 1/2 cup servings and in moderation. Otherwise you may blow your calorie budget and your pants.
|Black Beans||1/2 Cup||8|
|Black Eyed-Peas||1/2 Cup||7|
Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
To give you an idea of how these foods stack up against meat:
So, there you have it veggie-lovers. The top non-meat protein sources to keep your lettuce and lentil loving body fueled with protein and nutrients so you can get results. Get closer to your finish line by supplementing with natural aminos and BCAAs. Now that you’ve fed your mind, fill your grocery cart with the good stuff so you can fuel your body toward results. Until then, Namaste, my friend, namaste.