Plant-based protein sources header image

Sources of Plant Proteins

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Also note: While I am a certified nutrition coach, I am not a medical doctor. Information here is not intended to be a replacement for the advice you should seek from your doctor.

Many plant-based foods can be an excellent source of protein and other nutrients. Often with fewer calories and more benefits for your health than animal products. Many experts agree that a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can provide you with all the nutrients you need.

What is protein?

Protein is found throughout the bodyโ€”in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and virtually every other body part or tissue. Enzymes are a type of protein that power many chemical reactions and the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood. At least 10,000 different proteins make up who you are!

The human body creates 11 amino acids but must get another 9 from food. These nine are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valineโ€”known as the essential amino acids.

Some plant products, such as soy and quinoa, are complete proteins. This means they contain all nine essential amino acids humans need, though a bit lower in digestibility compared to animal products. Others are missing some of these amino acids, so eating a varied diet is very important. You can read more on animal vs. plant-proteins here

The average person needs about 7 grams of protein every day for every 20 pounds of body weight. Athletes will need more for better recovery.

The following are benefits of a higher-protein diet:

  1. Appetite Control
  2. Muscle growth or maintenance
  3. Improved cardiometabolic health
  4. Better strength
  5. Faster recovery
  6. Improved immune function

And here are the best plant-based proteins:

Grains

GrainTypical Serving SizeProtein
Chia seeds2 tbsp5g
Quinoa1/2 cup12g
Amaranth100g15g
Buckwheat100g13g
Sorghum100g11g
Teff cooked1 cup10g
Wild rice1 cup7g
Spelt100g7g
Oats1 cup6g
Millet 1 cup6g

Beans and Legumes

Beans and LegumesServing SizeProteins
Black Beans1 cup14g
Chickpeas1 cup12g
Lentils1 cup18g
Edamame1 cup16g
Pinto Beans1 cup14g
Red Beans1 cup15g

Plant-Based Protein Powders

Plant-Based Protein PowdersServing SizeProteins
Pea protein powder1 scoop24g
Sunflower protein powder20g10g
Hemp protein powder1 scoop8g
Soy protein powder1 heaping tbsp8g
Brown Rice protein powder1tbsp8g
Pumpkin seed protein1 scoop6g

*Depending on the brand

Nuts

NutsServing SizeProteins
Peanuts1/4 cup9.5g
Almonds1/4 cup7.5g

Vegetables

VegetablesServing SizeProteins
Potatoes1 cup4g
Asparagus1 cup3g
Brussel-Sprouts1 cup3g
Avocado1 cup3g
Broccoli1 cup2g
Mushrooms1oz1g
Spinach1 cup1g

Fruits

FruitsServing SizeProteins
Guava100g3g
Jackfruit100g2g
Kiwi100g2g
Blackberries1 cup2g
Banana1 cup2g
Apricot1 apricot1g

Combos for Complete Protein

There are some meal combinations, which are perfect because together they give us all the 9 essential amino acids we need (complete protein).

These combinations are:

  • Nuts or seeds with whole grains (peanut butter on whole-wheat toast)
  • Whole grains with beans (beans and rice, hummus and whole-grain pita bread, bean-based chili and crackers, refried beans and tortillas)
  • Beans with nuts or seeds (salad with chickpeas and sunflower seeds)
  • Grains and legumes (bean soup and crackers, pasta and peas)

Get Some Plant-based Protein – For You and For the World

By getting more plant-based proteins in your diet, you are not only doing your body good, but also preventing damage to the environment. The production of animal-based food is a major contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. You can read more about that in my Plant-based vs. Animal-derived Food Products article.

Proteins are found in a large number of delicious foods! You will have no problem getting enough protein as long as you regularly consume high protein plant-foods, preferably with each meal.

Proteins are one of the key elements of a healthy diet, so if you are fully plant-based, plan your diet wisely.

I have many high protein, plant-based recipes. You should try these out:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-for-vegans-vegetarians

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321474

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/ask-nutritionist-what-are-best-sources-plant-based-protein-ncna982496

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/best-sources-protein-vegans

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/plant-based-protein

https://www.thehealthy.com/nutrition/plant-based-protein/

https://www.eatthis.com/lose-weight-build-muscle-with-complete-proteins/

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