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Vegetarian products aren’t the go-to protein foods. Animal products, especially meat, are usually more popular when it comes to getting this dietary building block - protein. Most plant-based foods are not complete proteins – they do not contain all of the nine essential amino acids (building blocks of protein).
There’s good news though – a carefully planned plant-diet can provide you all the protein you need. On the brighter side, plant-foods are packed with fiber and are low in saturated fats, which makes them much more healthy for your heart. However, you cannot do without protein-rich foods, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, because your body can produce only so much.
Get in touch with certified dietitians with FITFEAST and get daily diet recommendations based on your needs and preferences – vegetarian, eggetarian, or non-vegetarian.
Top Protein Sources for Vegetarians
Beans are a staple in Indian kitchens and you should have them if you want enough protein. Add them to any dish and you have a filling meal because they are packed with fiber as well as protein. Beans are rich in both soluble and insoluble fibers that make them good for lowering cholesterol and improving digestion. Include a variety of beans – black beans, chickpeas, heirloom beans, etc. – in your daily diet. You can stock up a batch of dried beans for up to a week. Have them with brown rice for a complete meal.
Lentils are, without a doubt, one of the best plant-based sources of protein. And it’s a good thing that we have it almost every day. They are quite filling and have a lot of fiber in addition to having protein. Moreover, they are easier to cook as compared to beans because they need not be soaked before cooking. Legumes are a better source of folate than beans, which means that they are good for your brain and heart health. The benefits of lentils are even better when paired with sources of Vitamin C like tomatoes. Add them to your soups, salads, and of course, make daal with your favorite spices.
It looks a lot like couscous and has a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture. It is naturally gluten-free and it doesn’t grow like other grain. This ancient grain does not have a lot of protein but when eaten with other sources. it is really good for you. Quinoa contains iron, fiber, zinc, and magnesium in addition to protein and is a much better source than most other grains.
The rice in most recipes can be replaced with quinoa. You can also have it for breakfast like porridge by simmering it in a plant source milk. Use it instead of pasta as well or add it to your soups and stews.
The best thing about tofu is that it soaks up the flavor of anything you add to it because it is bland, which makes it a blank canvas of foods. Use this soybean-based product in puddings, smoothies, etc. If it is firm, stir-fry it and add it to salads, veggie bowls, noodles, or sandwiches. Very importantly, tofu is a great source of calcium and therefore, is good for your bones. You can get up to 8 grams of protein from 80 grams of tofu. Tempeh and edamame are also great soybean-based alternatives.
Fruits & Veggies
Yes, they are on the high protein foods list. Actually, they should be on every list. Different fruits and vegetables are packed with different nutrients and you should have a variety of them. Similarly, you can get protein from certain fruits and vegetables, however little.
The following vegetables contain up to 5 grams of protein in a serving the size of a cup.
- Sweet Potatoes
- Brussels sprouts
Sweet corn, which is a grain, also contains considerable amounts of protein.
They contain up to 4 grams of protein per cup.
How many times do you spread a spoonful of peanut butter on a piece of bread or toast to curb your hunger? It is a great source of protein. You can get up to 14 grams of protein from 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on two slices of whole-wheat bread. Try to get the peanut butter with the least added ingredients. Having peanut butter is known to reduce hunger and appetite cause it contains a lot of calories. If you consume enough protein in a day, you will anyway feel full and reduce hunger cravings which might lead to weight loss as well.
The tiny, round black and white seeds absorb and form a gel-like substance, which makes them good for making jams and puddings. You can also use them as a substitute for eggs when you want to bake something completely vegetarian or vegan. You can also add them to salads, smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods. You can get 4 grams of protein from just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds. Finally, they are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, iron, selenium, and calcium.