Increase Your Daily Protein Intake Without Eating Meat
Almost every bodybuilder knows that in order to build bigger, stronger muscles they need to consume plenty of protein in their diet. Whether it’s in the form of a protein shake or a heart-healthy chicken dinner, protein is essential for providing the body with the amino acids and nutrients necessary for bulking up and staying energized.
But what if you’re vegetarian?
Are you doomed to be thin and healthy, but as thin as a reed? How can you pack on the muscle without lowering your standards?
Luckily for you, going green doesn’t mean you have to skip out on all the benefits of a high-protein diet. In fact, vegetarians should be even more conscious about their protein intake than the average athlete, and experts recommend that we eat about .37 grams of protein per pound of body weight. (Example, a 150 lb. person should eat around 55 grams a day).
Top 4 Plant-based Proteins
We’ve asked the experts to give us the best sources of plant proteins available, so you can get the most out of your workout! When included in a healthy and balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, the following foods can help you have all the protein you need to build a healthy body.
Go Nuts: Whether you like your nuts in an energy-boosting trail mix or like to grab a pack of peanuts during your lunch break, nuts can provide the protein you need as well as the extra fiber. Not only are they rich in vitamin a and e (powerful antioxidants) but they also contain omega-3 fatty acids which can boost your brain power. You can toast them, sprinkle them on salads, or eat them ground – but be careful, nuts are also high in calories, so you’ll want to eat them in moderation.
Bulk up with Beans: Beans, peas, lentils – these legumes are the best sources for powering your diet with protein. Typically speaking, for every cup of legumes, you’ll consume about 15 grams of protein in addition to fiber and iron. You can add beans to a wide variety of meals, including burritos, salads, soups, casseroles, and so much more! The more creative you are with your foods, the more fun you’ll have with your heart-healthy diet.
Gain with Grains: Breads, pastas, and other grain-based products are often given a bad rap for having too many carbs. However, if you stick to the whole-grain foods, you can stay healthy and get an extra boost of protein and fiber as well.
One of the best whole-grains you could possibly eat (no matter your diet) is Quinoa. Offering the most complete array of plant-based proteins, Quinoa can be a replacement for white rice or it can be cooked and mixed with honey, berries, or almonds (see above) to make a power-packed protein breakfast.
Additional whole grains that are rich in protein would include barley, amaranth, whole wheat pastas, oats, and buckwheat.
The Joy of Soy: Comparable in quality to a wide number of animal proteins, Soy beans are rich in protein and have been a staple throughout Asia for nearly 4,000 years.
Do you want to know the best part about eating soy? It’s incredibly versatile. Thousands of recipes and techniques are available both in books and online, so you’ll never get bored with incorporating soy into your vegetarian diet.
No Meat? No Problem
Countless studies have been conducted on the health benefits of vegetarianism. Not only are they at lower risk for heart failure, but they also tend to have a lower BMI, lower cholesterol levels, lower mortality rates, and lower risks for certain types of diseases. Although it may be a struggle at first to eat enough protein on a regular basis, you can still get adequate amounts of protein to build more muscle without giving up your healthier lifestyle.