So anyway....protein needs in my opinion vary from person to person. I’ve learned that a basic formula is your body weight divided by 2. So your weight in half is approximately the amount of protein, in grams you’d need on an average day. Added stress and/or activity? You'll probably need more. Personally I’ve found that I do well with about 40-60 grams of protein a day. I’ve also read that about 20-35% of one’s calories should come from protein. I’ve never done the math on this in my own personal diet though.
Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 22 amino acids. Of these 8(or 9?) are essential. This means they must come from food (or supplements). So basically, you need to make sure you have all of your essential aminos to get the protein you need. You could get really obsessive about food combining or you could just try your best to eat a variety of whole foods daily and supplement occasionally with, for example liquid aminos/nutritional yeast/protein powders and chances are, you’re going to be just fine! But keep in mind that each plant food has it’s own amino acid profile. So by getting a variety/combining plant foods throughout the day, it is possible to obtain all of the amino acids.
On to protein sources: Beans, legumes, quinoa, seeds and nuts are some of the best choices for plant based proteins. Chlorella and Spirulina (types of algae) are also good sources of protein one can supplement with. Personally, I like to supplement a few days a week with a protein shake.
There are many high quality protein powders on the market made from sources such as quinoa, peas, rice, hemp, various sprouted grains and of course good ol’ soybeans. Which takes us to the question: To soy or not to soy?
The answer to that question is not at all the aim of what I’m writing here but I will say this: everything in moderation, fermented is best (tempeh and miso) and I’m not gonna lie, I love my tofu. So what about meat substitutes? Meat substitutes are okay in a pinch (I always keep some in freezer for when I’m in a hurry) or for a treat but one shouldn’t rely on them as they are highly processed! Think about what a soybean looks like. Now think about what a soy hot dog looks like. Two very different things! Though of course they are yummy and certainly a reliable source of protein. One of my favorite easy soup recipes has “soysage” in it. I’m sure you’ll see that recipe eventually. Again, moderation is key.
Here are some amounts of grams of protein found in common foods:
Beans (1 cup) 10-15 grams
Lentils (1 cup) 18 grams, yum!
Avacados approx. 5 grams each, yes!
Tofu (4oz) 11 grams
Tempeh(40z) 17 grams
Quinoa (1 cup) 9 grams
Oatmeal(1cup) 6 grams
Almonds (1/4 cup) 7 grams, don’t forget about almond butter!
Sunflower seeds (1/4 cup) 9 grams
And let’s not forget about nutritional yeast!! Nutritional yeast is a complete protein that has 8 grams per tablespoon and is loaded with B vitamins including B12 which is essential and is not easily found in plant foods!
So let’s say as an example you have a protein powder supplemented smoothie for breakfast, rice and beans with avacado and salsa for lunch and a quinoa salad with greens and tempeh for dinner....that’s a whopping 50 grams of protein. That’s not including the snack you may have eaten like an apple with almond butter, a protein snack bar, a handful of nuts or seeds or raw veggies with hummus. You get the picture, right?
Remember that maintaining this lifestyle choice is a practice. It takes intention and effort. So keep up the good work! Another recipe is coming up soon as well as some information about sprouting! So look forward to those ;)