Some of my clients follow a vegetarian or vegan diet and sometimes they find it difficult finding the best and most efficient plant protein sources. So I thought it might help not only the vegans and vegetarians but everybody who looks after their protein intake and would like to reduce the amount of meat and dairy they eat. The main advantage of plant protein is that it contains less saturated fat in comparison with animal protein.
Protein is important for our bodies: it helps with our energy levels, keeps our metabolism running, it supports nail and hair growth and of course it is vital for our muscles, skin, bones and blood. Protein plays a big part in repair and growth of enzymes and even our immune system.
If you are lacking protein you may feel tired, have difficulties concentrating, suffer from mood swings and even unstable blood sugars. Your immune system may be weakened and you may struggle to gain muscle mass.
It is a controversial question if only animal protein can be considered as “complete protein” which includes all essential amino acids whilst plan protein can’t provide all of them. I don’t want to take sides in this controversy but I know that if you combine different plant proteins you will increase your intake of essential amino acids.
Depending on how much you exercise you should get between 0.75g and 1.7g of protein for every kg of bodyweight per day, so if you weigh 65kg and you are moderately active, you should aim for an intake of approx. 78g of protein.
My favourite plant protein sources are (protein content per serving in brackets):
1.Quinoa (8g of protein per 180g prepared Quinoa)
2.Spirulina tablets (6g per 10 tablets)
3.Chia seeds (5g per 2 tbsp)
4.Buckwheat (13g per 100g)
5.Hemp seed (11g per 30g)
6.Tofu (17g per 100g)
7.Lentils (26 g per 100g)
8.Chickpeas (5g per 100g)
9.Pumpkin seeds (7g per 30g)
10.Cashew nuts (6g per 30g)
As mentioned above you can optimise the biological value of plant protein by combining foods. Examples are: have a whole wheat pitta bread and 2 tbsp of hummus or – more generally speaking – eat legumes (beans, lentils, nuts) together with grains (wheat or rice): for example a peanut butter sandwich!
You may note that I have not mentioned a lot of soya products in my list. This is mainly because I am a big fan of clean and natural eating. Most soya products are highly processed and there are alarming signs that soya does mess with thyroid function if you have too much of it. Hence I would recommend to eat it sparsely. All the others I mentioned above are great natural sources of protein!
Let me know your favourite plant based protein foods!
Life is Good