One of the most common questions asked when going plant-based is: how am I going to get enough protein? Especially those that are active in action sports (like surfing) or athletes. Many food guides suggest about 0.8 g/kg of body weight. So for instance a 130 lb (59 kg) woman would need = 47 g of protein/day.
What does 47 grams of protein look like in the plant based world?
Breakfast: 20g of protein
Steel-cut oats (.5c) + chia (2 Tbsp) + hemp hearts (2 Tbsp)
Lunch: 25g of Tofu (.5 c) in a sprouted whole wheat wrap (1)
Dinner: 12g Brown rice (1 c) + black beans (.5 c)
= 57 g (10 grams extra of protein)
For vegans and vegetarians, the bigger focus for protein intake is less about “am I getting enough?” but more steered towards, am I getting all of the 9-essential amino acids? Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. ‘Essential’ means that they cannot be made by the body, which means we need to eat them or drink them to receive them. We, as humans, need 20-amino acids for our bodies to function properly.
So the idea here, is to eat a variety of proteins to get all the amino acids necessary.
The focus on protein is important, but just as significant to optimal nutrition and performance is getting enough of the other 2/3 macronutrients (healthy carbohydrates and nourishing fats) as well. Instead of getting too hung up on protein-protein-protein, a shift in eating to perform is balance. A helpful equation to use: protein (see list) + healthy carb (grain or veg or fruit) + healthy fat (ex. avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds etc.) + more veggies. This takes out the slippery slope of being a perfectionist or feeling like you need to calculate everything. Because eating should be nourishing and pleasure-filled, not stress inducing.
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Here is a break down of some common plant-based protein options and the rough protein content of each:
-Chia 2 Tbsp = 5g of protein
-Hemp hearts 2 Tbsp = 5g of protein
-Tofu 1/2 cup = 10 grams of protein
-Quinoa 1 cup cooked = 8 grams of protein
-Black beans 1 cup= 16 grams of protein
-Chickpeas 1 cup = 16 grams of protein
-Almonds 1/2 cup = 10 grams of protein
-Red/yellow/ green lentils 1 cup cooked= 18 grams of protein
-Hemp protein powder 1 oz (28g) = 11 grams of protein
-Eggs (for the vegetarians) 1 egg = 6 grams of protein
Fun protein combinations
-Chickpea side + hemp hearts
-Whole wheat banana pancakes + peanut butter + chia seeds
-Lentil curry + sprinkle of almonds
-Sprouted grain wrap + hummus
-Quinoa + tofu
Bonus of plant based proteins:
- Lower inflammation in the body
- Generally high in other healthy components such as: fibre, folate, and other vitamins, and minerals.
A helpful equation to use:
Protein (see list) + healthy carb (grain or veg or fruit) + heathy fat (ex. avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds etc.) + more veggies.
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