Does A Plant-Based Diet Provide Sufficient Protein?
A plant-based diet is one which comprises of foods from plant sources.
It not only consists of vegetables and fruits, but seeds, whole grains, nuts, oils, beans, and legumes for example, are also included in that list.
You completely abstain from an animal-based diet and depend more on plant items.
Pursuing this way of living can seem highly desirable in one hand, but it also looks a bit hard in the other.
In addition to it, a question usually comes to our mind.
What about the proteins? Can I get all that I need just from it? Well, guess what, sure you can!
But still, a common misconception about this diet is that it is not sufficient, and too much reliance on it can make our bodies devoid of proteins.
Why are Proteins Necessary Constituents of Our Diet?
Proteins are essential to our bodies as they are used to build and repair tissues.
Moreover they enable the formation of hormones, enzymes, muscles, cartilage, blood, skin, and bones.
But still, It has always been an argument about whether plant-based products can fulfill our need for protein.
An average adult person requires an amount of 500 grams of protein daily.
You can calculate the amount of protein you need daily based on your gender, age, weight, physical activity and some other factors with this calculator from Global RPh.
As many researches suggest, a plant-based diet can most certainly act as a healthier option to follow, especially because of its warranted protein adequacy to our bodies.
Why Animal-Based Foods can be Harmful?
In comparison to plant protein, animal products have a higher percentage of cholesterol in them.
Consequently, these can increase a person’s chance of getting heart disease.
Fatty deposits that develops in the blood vessels will continue to grow, and as a result, harder becomes for an ample amount of blood to flow through the arteries.
At this point, deposits break abruptly to form a clot, and ultimately, a stroke takes place.
Best Plant-Based Sources for Protein
It is very easy for a plant-based diet to meet the protein recommendations, as nearly all beans, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains contain enough protein in them.
Whereas on the other hand, a diet rich in fats, fruits, and sugars would not provide much.
According Reed Mangels, PhD, RD in an article at The Vegetarian Resource Group:
“It is easy for a vegan diet to meet recommendations for protein, as long as calorie intake is adequate. Strict protein combining is not necessary; it is more important to eat a varied diet throughout the day.“
It is not difficult for people that pursue a plant-based diet to get enough protein as their diet is energy-rich.
Here are some healthy, plant-based foods with high-protein content per serving:
Tofu, Edamame, and Tempeh
- All three of these originate from soybeans.
- They provide our bodies with necessary amino acids.
- All three contain 10-19 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (about 100 grams).
- They are also rich in fiber, folate, probiotics, vitamins, phosphorus, and magnesium.
- About 240ml of a cup of lentils provides 18 grams of protein.
- Can be used to make salads, soups, and dahls.
- A single cup of lentils provides 50% of the daily fiber needed by our body.
- It keeps the gut healthy.
- Prevents obesity and heart-related diseases.
- Contain a good number of Antioxidants.
Chickpeas and Other Beans
- Consists of 15 grams of protein.
- Are rich in folate, phosphorus, and fiber.
- It can lower cholesterol levels.
- Controls blood sugar and pressure.
- Reduces belly fat.
- They can be mixed easily with salad and consumed.
- Strengthens your muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
- Provides the human body with about 14 grams of proteins and 7 grams of fiber.
- A popular ingredient in most dishes due to its cheesy flavor.
- An excellent source of manganese, zinc, and copper.
- Contain about 9 grams of protein per 240ml cup cooked.
- One serving of peas fulfills about 25% of our daily fiber, folate, manganese, and vitamin requirements.
- Often served as a side dish.
Quinoa and Amaranth
- They are known to be gluten-free grains.
- A cooked cup of Quinoa and Amaranth provides up to 8-9 grams of protein.
- They are good sources of complex carbs, fiber, and phosphorus.
- You can prepare and eat them like rice and wheat.
- It is made of soybeans, minerals, and vitamins.
- It is a good alternative for cow’s milk.
- A single cup of soymilk contains about 7 grams of protein.
- It is an excellent source of calcium and vitamins.
- Has a lot of fortified varieties.
Note: Make sure you get it from organic sources, which is not always easy nowadays.
Oats and Oatmeal
- Half a cup of oats provides about 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.
- A cup provides ample amounts of folate, zinc, and magnesium.
- Provide a higher quality protein in comparison to rice and wheat.
- It can be used in a variety of recipes and as flour for baking purposes.
- 35 grams of chia seeds provide about 6 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber.
- These seeds contain an adequate amount of selenium, calcium, antioxidants, and magnesium in them.
- It can be used in puddings and baked goods due to its ability to absorb water.
In short, proteins are a necessity in our diet. Protein deficiency can cause malfunctions in our body and contribute to health problems.
However, we can avoid this simply by following a healthier diet.
And let us not forget that it also means a diet that doesn’t necessarily needs to come from animal sources.
Proteins are our essential source of energy.
A balanced plant-based diet can not only give us the required amount of energy that we need to function at our maximum performance, as it does that by not overloading the amount of protein intake that our organism can properly manage.
- National Institute on Aging (2021) Important Nutrients to Know: Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/important-nutrients-know-proteins-carbohydrates-and-fats
- GlobalRPh (2021) Protein Requirements Calculator – Based on Activity Level. https://globalrph.com/medcalcs/protein-requirements-daily/
- Mariotti, F. and Gardner, C. D. (2019) Dietary protein and amino acids in vegetarian diets – A review. Nutrients, vol.11(11) Article 2661.
- Micha, R., Michas, G. and Mozaffarian, D. (2012) Unprocessed red and processed meats and risk of coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes – An updated review of the evidence. Current Atherosclerosis Reports, vol.14(6) pp. 515–524.
- Arand, S. S., Hawkes, C., de Souza, R. J., Mente, A., Dehghan, M., Nugent, R., Zulyniak, M. A., Weis, T., Bernstein, A. M., Krauss, R., Kromhout, D., Jenkins, D. J. A., Malik, V., Martinez-Gonzalez, M. A., Mozafarrian, D., Yusuf, S., Willett, W. C. and Popkin, B. M. (2015) Food consumption and its impact on cardiovascular disease: Importance of solutions focused on the globalized food system. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, vol.66(14) pp. 1590–1614.
- Mangels, R. (2021) Protein in the Vegan Diet https://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.php