Nutrihealthline.com – When you are a vegetarian, regardless of the type of vegetarian, there are only so many sources for getting an adequate amount of protein into your diet.
This can be especially true for new vegetarians or those going entirely vegan. Seeking out additional protein sources will ensure you don’t put your health at risk by falling short.
How much is too much? If you’ve ever wondered how much protein you should be getting on a daily basis; a general guideline is to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of your ideal body weight.
So if you weigh 145 lbs, or would like to, then you should consume between 145 – 185 grams of protein each day.
Following is a list of the most popular sources of protein that vegetarians and vegans include in their diets daily.
Tofu and other soy products are one of the most common ways to incorporate protein in to a vegetarian or vegan diet. While Tofu may not be much to look at, this soy product is very versatile and can be substituted or included into many different recipes without changing the taste.
There are also a variety of ready-made soy products for those days when you don’t have much time to cook. These include soy milk, soy yogurt, ice cream and even soy cheese.
Nuts and Seeds are also a very healthy way to sneak protein into your diet. Especially if you enjoy snacking on crunchy, salty foods.
This includes delicious almonds and almond butter.
Cashews, Pecans, Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds and of course Peanuts and Peanut Butter.
As always check the ingredient label before you buy to be sure the product isn’t overloaded with additives.
Beans and Legumes. There are many different kinds of beans you can include into your diet. Choosing which beans you prefer for your recipes will take some experimenting. The beans with the most protein are black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and chickpeas. Lentils are part of the Legume family and are also a good source of fiber.
Whole Grains. While these can sometimes be a little more difficult to find at your major chain supermarket, your local health food store is sure to carry them or may be willing to order them.
These healthy whole grains are quinoa, brown rice, barley and whole wheat or Ezekiel Bread.
If you aren’t familiar with everything on the list of grains above, here is a short description of each:
Quinoa (keen-wah) is considered both a whole grain and a seed.
What you purchase in the store are the seeds from the flower of the Quinoa plant. This grain is an excellent source of essential vitamins, amino acids and is considered to be one of the best naturally occurring protein sources available. Out of a 12.25 ounce container of Quinoa, one serving size of 2.62 oz has a whole 16.6 grams of protein.
Brown Rice – Obviously you know that brown rice is… well, brown, but why choose brown over white rice? Because it is natural and unprocessed.
Important for any diet, brown rice is high in fiber, magnesium and selenium.
It also contains Phytonutrients. These are compounds found in plants that act as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Barley – This whole grain is full of vitamins and low in fat. It is easy to cook, has a soft, chewy texture and nutty flavor. Include barley into your diet by adding it to your favorite soups and sandwiches or puree and add to a smoothie or protein shake.
Ezekiel bread is probably the healthiest bread around and arguably the best for good reason. If you have never seen a loaf of Ezekiel bread before it is a dark syrup-like color and full of grains. Specifically, these are wheat, barley, millet, spelt, soybeans and lentils.
Lastly on this list of protein sources for vegetarians is Protein Bars, Drinks and Powders.
Nearly all of these protein nutrient supplements can be found near the pharmacy at your local grocery store. The majority of these supplements are either whey or soy protein.
Protein bars and drinks can contain anywhere between 7 and 30 grams either per bar or drink, most of which are low in calories and fat. Those that are higher in fat or calories are intended to serve as meal replacements for those with busy schedules. As always be sure to check the serving size to be sure.
The next time you go to the grocery store, head for the protein section and pick up a box of bars and a tub of flavored powder to add to smoothies, yogurt and even coffee. Or you can also find single serving protein shakes in a variety of flavors.
When you are new to the vegetarian or vegan diet, the changes can seem extreme but are well worth it.