When eating a plant-based diet, the age-old question often arises: where do you get your protein from? You will quickly learn that plants are high in protein, especially legumes, soy, and foods like tofu that are made from plants. In addition to animal products, there are many sources of protein. As simple as it may seem, if you choose a plant-based diet, you get your protein from the same source as animals: plants. You’re just cutting out the middleman.
A typical plant-based meal offers up to 10 grams of protein per serving, which corresponds to between 15 and 20 percent of your daily protein needs, depending on your gender, size, age and training goals. The average woman needs 45 to 50 grams of protein per day, while a man needs about 10 grams more or 55 to 70 grams, depending on whether they are training for an event or looking to gain muscle mass.
Assuming you eat three meals a day plus healthy plant-based snacks like nuts, seeds, nut butters, or a healthy serving of edamame or hummus, achieving your daily protein goal is actually easy with a plant-based diet.
According to Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD (the author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook), protein intake shouldn’t vary between sexes, but rather be based on size. She explains that protein needs are based on grams per pound of body weight. A simple protein calculator tells you exactly how much you need based on weight, height, age, and activity level, which is one of the main factors in how much protein you should be eating to maintain a healthy weight and build lean muscle.
Proteins help the body build muscle after exercise
The role of protein in the body is to build and repair damaged muscle cells. If you are active and exercise daily, protein intake is a priority to rebuild cells that will be damaged during your fitness session.
Getting fit and building muscle through exercise happens because you create micro-tears in muscle fibers during your exercise, and when you eat protein afterward, the body responds by repairing the muscle fibers and making them bigger, which is why weight training builds strong muscles.
When you eat protein, it helps the muscles rebuild by replacing the broken down muscle fibers. Consuming protein soon after a workout helps these muscles repair and rebuild larger and stronger than before.
Proteins play an important role in losing weight
Eating protein also helps you lose weight as proteins take more time to digest and make you feel full longer. A full stomach prevents snacking. In addition, when the body is resting, building muscle mass burns more calories than fat. So just sitting in your chair will burn more calories as you build your muscles in the gym.
In the meantime, vegetable protein is as good or better a source than any other: A recent study shows that a high-protein, plant-based diet to support muscle strength works in a similar way to an omnivorous diet to build muscle.
8 High Protein Foods You Should Eat to Lose Fat and Build Muscle
1. Soy protein
Soy products are the most protein-rich plants per serving, as 36 percent of soybeans are made up of protein. However, we eat soy in different forms, which means that the amount of protein per serving varies slightly depending on the type of soy you eat.
- Firm tofu (soybean curd) contains 10 grams of protein per half cup.
- Edamame 8.5 grams of protein per half cup.
- Tempeh has 15 grams of protein per half cup.
Since soy comes in a variety of forms, it can easily be used in salads, as a meat substitute, and as an addition to soups to make them more filling. A 2018 study found that using soy protein is healthier for you than using animal protein when you want to add protein to your smoothies, as it not only helps build muscle but also increases blood cholesterol like saturated fat (found.) in red meat and whole dairy products).
Seitan is the gluten found in wheat, so some people who are gluten sensitive avoid it. It has a meaty texture, making it a great meal replacement. Seitan contains 21 grams of protein per ⅓ cup. It is a source of selenium and contains minimal amounts of calcium, iron and phosphorus. Because of the low levels of lysine in seitan, it’s not a complete protein like beans.
Seitan is low in calories, makes you feel full and can reduce food cravings, which in turn helps with weight loss. The high protein content in seitan is one of the reasons people like to eat it to help build muscle, as the perfect post-workout meal.
Avoid seitan if you are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease.
Lentils are so versatile that they make a great addition to soups, stews, and salads. One cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein.
Lentils are also high in fiber, both in soluble and insoluble forms. One cup of lentils provides a cup of cooked lentils provides more than 15 grams of fiber. or almost half the fiber you need in a day. (Men need at least 30 to 38 grams of fiber per day. Women need at least 20 to 25 grams of fiber per day.) The fiber in lentils also nourishes the good bacteria in your body and promotes gut health. Since the high protein and fiber content of lentils makes you feel full after consuming lentils, they aid in weight loss.
The soluble fiber in lentils helps slow down your absorption of food so that the next time you eat less because you feel fuller for longer. The high protein and fat content of lentils helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and coronary artery disease, studies show.
4. Chickpeas and beans
Chickpeas and all types of beans contain a copious amount of protein per serving. Beans and lentils have 15 grams of protein per cup when cooked. In addition to being high in protein, these legumes also contain complex carbohydrates, iron, folic acid, phosphorus, and manganese.
A randomized study showed that regular consumption of white kidney beans resulted in weight loss and body fat loss. This study measured a group that ate white beans for 35 days compared to the group that did not and showed a significant difference.
Studies have also proven that a diet high in beans and chickpeas lowers blood pressure, controls blood sugar levels, and lowers cholesterol. Most types of beans help build lean muscles. So if you’re looking for a post-workout meal or snack, add beans.
All types of nuts are excellent sources of protein, but some are higher than others
- Peanuts contain 20.5 grams of protein per half cup.
- Almonds have 16.5 grams of protein per half cup.
Nuts are versatile, so add nuts or nut butters to smoothies, soups, salads, or just eat them as snacks. Consuming a handful of mixed nuts each day in combination with other high-protein meals will help increase feelings of satiety, reduce cravings, and keep you feeling full longer.
Nuts have other benefits, such as protection against heart disease and diabetes. A 5-year study also shows that regular consumption of nuts leads to a reduced risk of obesity or overweight.
6. Spirulina and Chlorella
Spirulina is a blue-green alga that is so nutrient-rich that one often ingests spirulina or chlorella, another alga, after training. Two tablespoons of spirulina provide your body with 8 grams of protein and at the same time provide 22 percent of your daily iron and thiamine and 42 percent of your daily copper needs. There are few plant-based foods that can provide all nine of the essential amino acids your body needs, but spirulina and chlorella both contain all nine.
Research has shown that spirulina helps reduce BMI, waist size, and appetite in people who consume it regularly. It also helps in lowering blood lipids significantly.
Although quinoa is technically a seed, it can replace whole grain products like pasta and rice in meals. Quinoa contains 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per cup when cooked. Quinoa is also rich in all nine essential amino acids. You can enjoy quinoa instead of cereals, in salads, or in your smoothies.
Quinoa helps in weight loss by increasing metabolism and decreasing appetite. In the lab, rats fed a high fructose diet and then quinoa were healthier than those not fed quinoa. And since you are eating quinoa instead of other high-calorie grains, it can help reduce your daily caloric intake. Quinoa contains significant amounts of phytochemicals such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, squalene, fat-soluble vitamins and fatty acids and has a low glycemic index.
The fiber in quinoa will keep you full longer and get you to your weight loss goals. It also helps in increasing the muscle mass index.
8. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are low in calories and extremely high in protein and essential amino acids. Chia seeds contain 2 grams of protein per tablespoon. After your workout, add chia seeds to your smoothie or salad, or prepare a chia seed pudding as a snack. Or add flax seeds, which provide 2 grams of protein per tablespoon. Another high protein seed is hemp. Hemp seeds provide 5 grams of protein per tablespoon. You can use them in a similar way to chia seeds.
Bottom line: To build muscle, add vegetable protein to your post-workout snack.
Most high-protein plant-based foods are typically low in fat, low in calories, and high in fiber. Add plant-based protein foods to your day to aid weight loss and build muscle, especially when combined with weight training. Herbal diets are generally low in fat and research has shown that they can aid in weight loss.
Eating protein will keep the body full longer and prevent you from eating now and then. Proteins are also a necessary component for strength, muscle building, and boosting immunity.