Animal sources have a higher protein content than plant based foods, which means you need to eat a lot of plant based protein to match animal sources. Protein is commonly found in meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, tofu, pulses (e.g. beans and lentils).
If you’re eating a plant based diet you might worry about not getting enough protein.
Anna Mapson, a registered Nutritional Therapist, has created a two day vegan diet plan which shows how to get enough protein through the day. It’s not actually difficult if you think about protein at each meal.
To help meet your targets aim for protein at every meal and snack. It’s important to think about what your body needs to function each day. When we eat enough protein we tend to have less need for snacks between meals.
Dietary protein is broken down into its ‘building blocks’ amino acids, which the body can then use as it needs. So it is actually the amino acids that are essential rather than the protein.
Protein is a constituent of every cell in the body, and next to water makes up the greatest proportion of body weight. It makes up hair, nails, ligaments, tendons, glands, organs, muscles, body fluids, enzymes and hormones.
Benefits of eating enough protein
Some studies have shown people eating 25% of their energy from protein felt less hungry, and had less of a tendency to snack late during the evening, when compared to people who had a low protein diet.
Also another study showed people who ate more protein lost more fat mass, and automatically ate less calories (around 400 less) because they were filling up on protein rather than carbs.
Eating a high-protein breakfast has been shown to reduce cravings and calorie intake throughout the day. In a small study with men who ate eggs on toast ate significantly less calories throughout the day than those who ate cereal or a croissant and juice.
What if I don’t eat enough protein?
If your diet is too low in protein you may feel tired, have issues with hair, nails, skin or weight management.
Here are some examples of vegan protein foods you can build into your diet:
1 cup lentils – 9g
1 cup pinto / kidney / black beans – 9g
1 cup quinoa – 9g
1 cup spinach – 5g
1 cup green peas – 9g
100g tofu – 8g
Including these kinds of foods at each meal will help you meet your protein requirements.
As well as getting sufficient protein anyone following a plant based diet should also ensure they are including key nutrients through diet or supplementation like B12, omega 3, vitamin D, and iodine.
It’s very possible to have a healthy vegan diet with some planning, you will build a way of eating that fits with your ethics, and keeps you feeling healthy.