If you’re into strength training and looking to lose a few inches or simply looking to be healthier in general, then there’s no doubt that you have been introduced to every health freak’s best friend – protein. Now, in light of the fact that we do require 10 to 35% of our daily caloric intake to be protein, we can’t really turn to meat for all of this protein. There are many reasons for this, being affordability, the quality of meat available to you (grass-fed vs. grain-fed), and even just the fact that maybe you don’t eat meat (vegetarian or vegan) or are perhaps limiting yourself to very small portions per week. Whatever your reasons, here are the highest meatless sources of protein that you can enjoy in your meals!
These humble, small seeds sure don’t look like they would pack any protein, but boy, would you be surprised at just how much they do! They are actually protein powerhouses relative to their size. They happen to be excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber in addition to all that protein. So how much protein are we talking about, then? Just one ounce of these seeds packs 4 grams of protein! And let’s mention that we’re talking high-quality protein here, too!
This superfood is recommended as a source of protein for vegans since just one cup of this grain is loaded with approximately 24 grams of protein. It is considered a complete protein, with all nine essential amino acids required from your diet – meaning your body can’t produce these! As a recognition of the immense nutritional quality of quinoa, the year 2013 was actually declared as The International Year of the Quinoa by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN).
These delicious edible seeds come in so many varieties that there is no chance of you growing bored with eating them all week! With so many options to choose from and still more ways of preparing them, they’re an easy addition to your diet. They are low in fat and highly affordable. Lentils, beans, chickpeas, and garden peas all pack about 7 to 10 grams of protein per 100 grams which is a great amount for vegetables!
Tofu can actually be expected to have a high protein content as it is actually bean curd from soybeans. In fact, 100 grams of tofu offers up 8 grams of protein, and the best thing about this ingredient is its versatility in the kitchen. There are several ways to prepare tofu such as baking or even stir-frying. It could even be blended into soups!
This satiating grain is one of the lesser-known foods but offers a good 8 grams of protein per 100 grams. It is actually a type of grass, and the grains are used in several ways – to produce beer, milled as flour, cooked into syrup, or even made as a porridge. It is also used for animal feed. This grain is naturally gluten-free and is the fifth most common grain crop farmed across the globe.
There are so many delicious nuts that are wonderful additions to practically every type of meal – or even simply as a snack! Pistachios, pecans, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, and cashews all spring to mind. Nuts boast of three macronutrients over and above their essential micronutrient content, making them great sources of a variety of nutrients like magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium and zinc, among much more. Twenty-two plain almonds yield 5.9 grams of protein, the same as 49 pistachios, while 14 walnut halves and 18 cashews each yield 4.3 grams of protein. The humble peanut offers 6.7 grams of protein per 35 plain peanuts!
Greek yogurt has nearly double the protein of regular yogurt but fewer carbohydrates. It is a great substitute for sour cream and even ice cream. You could even use it instead of mayonnaise for a significantly healthier alternative with only a mild difference in taste. A container of yogurt sits at 20 grams of protein! Some brands may even pack in a little more – just read the label to make sure.
Now you know that cutting down on your intake of meat won’t have to cost you your daily protein intake! So give steak and chicken a break, will you? Go ahead and look up some delicious plant-based meals to add to your weekly dinner and lunch menu!