Let’s talk protein for a moment. Proteins are the main building blocks of our body and they’re important in so many health driven processes throughout all stages of our lives.
Proteins are made out of smaller molecules called amino acids, some our body makes and others we need to eat -the latter are called essential amino acids.
The general perception of foods that contain proteins are animal meats and eggs.
So with this said, what if you choose to be a vegetarian or even vegan, where no animal product is eaten. Are you doomed?
Not at all.
Almost all foods contain protein (with the except of sugar & fats) so the key is to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables, plenty of leafy greens,whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
How much protein should you have daily?
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man. 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman. (the figures increase if you are highly active and regularly workout)
You can work out your requirement be by multiplying your weight by 0.8 for example of you weigh 65kg its 65 x 0.8 = 52g of protein per day
Chloe, from Melbourne asks:
I'm vegetarian. Any tips on reaching my daily protein needs?
Here are 6 ways to get some protein from plant based foods:
1. Oats - Half a cup of raw oats contains around 12 grams of protein. For breakfast, try our 3 Little Birds porridge and add some chopped almonds and pumpkin seeds along with 60ml of milk and a dollop of yoghurt. This could bring around 18-20g protein
2. Hummus - this delicious dip contains chickpea (high in lysine) and sesame seed paste (a rich source of the amino acid methionine). Individually they are an incomplete protein but combined they create a complete source of protein. 8g protein in 100g of dip. It’s versatile so can be eaten straight up with carrot and celery pieces as a snack or add to your sandwiches and salads.
3. Quinoa - This seed has numerous health benefits including a protein, antioxidants, many vitamins and minerals, and fibre. Replace white rice with quinoa next time you make a stir fry or vegetable salad. One cup of quinoa contains around 8g protein.
4. Smoothies - This is a super simple way to get added protein. Adding our Warrior Peanut Butter Smoothie Bomb to your regular smoothie blend to boost it’s protein value. Try with banana and soy milk. Peanuts contain a good source of protein. Two tablespoons of peanut butter will give you about 8 grams of protein. So add to a multigrain cracker for a snack too.
5. Nutritional Yeast - This nutritious ingredient can boost the flavour of your regular foods and is an easy way to get that little bit more protein in. I use it as a seasoning on top of my soups when serving, with avocado on toast and on salads. Known as “Nooch” in the vegan community, it is revered as a superfood.
6. Tofu/Tempeh - these two soya bean based products contain a good source of protein. Of the two, tempeh is a better quality as it contains the whole bean and is fermented so is beneficial for the gut too. Slice tempeh thinly and fry in a pan with garlic and ginger until its golden, then add to sandwiches, salads and stir fries
There are also many protein powders on the market today that will provide the extra boost you need. They can all be quite different so make sure you try a sample pack first before spending the $$$ of one you don’t like. Personally, I’m not a big fan of solely pea protein based ones. The after taste is yucky and can be gritty. I also don’t like stevia so it writes a few of them off. I like the Amazonia proteins (this is not paid advertising just my truth) so if the other brand haven’t worked try this range.
If you like to listen to podcast - check out Simon Hill at Plant Proof Podcast. He’s also a nutritionist. He gains his knowledge from evidence based research and has a lot of interesting and informative guests talking about plant based eating.
(BHSc Nutritional Medicine)
P.S don't forget you can send me a health question to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do the nutrition research to find the best answers for you! 😃
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