Proteins are the building blocks of life, breaking down into amino acids which promote cell growth and repair. They also take a lot longer to digest than carbohydrates, allowing you to feel fuller for longer (making them highly popular among those trying to lose weight).
Animal products, such as meat and fish, might immediately come to mind when you think about protein-rich foods. However, there are also plenty of plant-based foods which are just as high in protein.
If you’re a vegetarian trying to include more protein in your diet, we’ve listed 7 good sources below.
Green Peas. Food from the legume family is generally high in vegetarian protein, and peas are not exception. A cup contains 7.9 grams, an amount equivalent to a cup of milk. Women should consume 46 grams of protein each day, whereas men need 56. Pea pesto over linguine is a personal favorite of mine.
Quinoa. Grains contain a relatively high level of protein. Quinoa, however, is unique in that it contains over 8 grams of protein per cup. This protein is made up of all nine essential amino acids required for bodily growth and repair. As a result, quinoa is often referred to as a “perfect protein”.
Beans. There is no shortage of varieties of beans; white, kidney, pinto, the list goes on. A characteristic shared by them is that they are all rich sources of protein. A cup of kidney beans, for example, contains around 13 grams of protein.
Chickpeas. Commonly known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are rich in fiber and protein, and low in calories. They can be tossed in with a salad, baked into a healthy snack or blitzed with tahini into a hummus.
Tofu. Foods that come from soybeans are among the highest vegetarian sources of protein, with as many as 20 grams per cup. They are extremely nutritious, and can take on the taste and texture of any type of food you’re cooking with.
Edamame. If you’re not crazy about meat substitutes, you can enjoy your soy as they appear in nature; straight from the pod. Boiled edamame contains around 8.4 grams of protein per cup, and can be salted and served either hot or cold.
Chia Seeds. Chia seeds provide a useful method of adding protein and fiber to almost any recipe. Whether sprinkled over salad, mixed in with yoghurt or blitzed into a smoothie, chia seeds will add 4.7 grams of protein per ounce.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and there are plenty of other protein-rich vegetarian foods which can be added to your diet. Try to integrate some of these into your recipes, and increase your daily protein intake towards the optimal level.
This article was written by Christian Abbas, a personal trainer in West Lothian. Spiral Fitness provides nutritional coaching, personal training and motivational support to help people reach their goals.