How can people fit in protein in a Vegan diet - what types of foods? How many grams should we eat?
This is a very common question! In fact, it is the first question I am generally asked - probably because I am 6 feet 2 inches tall and weigh over 100kg!
Firstly, let's start with a general definition. Vegans do not eat meat, fish, eggs or dairy. In fact, they will not consume any animal by-product whatsoever (whether it is contained in the final product or not).
This way of eating can be driven by any number of reasons - religious, ethical, moral, health etc
Now, proteins can be divided broadly into two categories; complete (containing all 9 essential amino acids in sufficient quantity) or incomplete (lacking in one or more of these essential amino acids).
Complete proteins are essential for tissue growth and repair. Generally speaking, most animal sources are complete whilst vegetable sources are incomplete.
However, both soy and quinoa are complete proteins! It is also possible to combine incomplete proteins together to create a combined protein eg legumes/seeds, legumes/nuts, legumes/grains
In terms of protein content, 100g of each of the following foods contain:
Pumpkin Seeds - 30g protein
Almond Butter - 21g protein
Tempeh - 19g protein
Walnuts - 15g protein
Black Beans - 9g protein
Lentils - 9g protein
Chick Peas - 7g protein
Tofu - 7g protein
Quinoa - 4g protein
Broccoli - 3g protein
As way of comparison, 100g of Beef contains just 8g of protein and 100g of Egg Whites contains 11g protein.
So, as you can see, Vegan protein sources stack up relatively well!
For those that are interested in supplements, Soy Protein Isolate, Pea Protein Isolate and Brown Rice Protein contain in excess of 80g of protein per 100g.
To ensure optimal health, consuming approximately 1g protein per 2kg of bodyweight at every meal is recommended.
eg if you weigh 50kg, then you need to aim for 25g protein/meal
An example could be 100g Tempeh (19g protein) plus 200g Broccoli (6g protein)
or 200g Black Beans (18g protein) plus 100g Tofu (7g protein)
Insider Tip - Add Pumpkin Seeds, Walnuts or Chick Peas to your favourite salad -it boosts the protein content of your meals and adds crunch!
Paul Bevan has over 10 year’s experience as a Personal Trainer, specialising in resistance training, nutrition and supplementation.
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