Protein: Are You Getting Enough?

Updated: Feb 5, 2019







One of the most common questions with plant-based eating is “where do you get your protein?” But first, how much protein do you actually need in a day?


We, as consumers, can be a bit protein obsessed—meat is the focus of the plate, protein powders are all over the market, companies market ‘high protein’ on packaged food items and plant proteins like soy and pea are being infused into foods to make them even higher protein than their naturally occurring state.


What is protein?

Don't get me wrong, protein is very important. Protein is a macronutrient (or large molecule as compared to vitamins and minerals, which are micronutrients or small molecules) that our cells need to function properly. Amino acids are simpler compounds that make up proteins. There 22 total amino acids, nine that are essential because our body cannot make them. Amino acids are the building blocks for protein. Most people associate protein with building muscle, but it has many other important functions such as regulating the body's tissues, cells and organs; transporting oxygen; functioning in enzymatic roles; improving immunity; and creating structural support for skin, hair and nails. No doubt, we need protein!


How much do we need?

The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein is .8 gm per kg body weight or .36 gm of protein per pound of body weight. For a 150 pound person that would be 55 grams of protein a day. If you’re more active or an athlete (endurance athlete, weight lifter, etc.) your protein needs may be higher. But, in general most people who are working out daily for 30-45 minutes with a normal routine (dog walk, day job, family time at night) do not need as much protein as they're consuming. What does 55 grams of plant-based protein look like? Here’s a typical, mostly whole food, plant-based day. I also included fiber count since fiber is critical to optimal health and comes from plants (not animals).


Breakfast

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal 5 gm protein, 4 gm fiber

  • 1/2 cup blueberries 1 gm protein, 1.5 gm fiber

  • 1/2 cup soy milk 3.5 gm protein, 1 gm fiber

  • 1/4 cup walnuts 4 gm protein, 2 gm fiber

  • 2 Tbsp hemp seeds 7 gm protein, 2 gm fiber



Snack

  • Apple 0 protein, 4 gm fiber

  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter, 8 gm protein, 2 gm fiber

Vegan BLT Lunch

  • Two slices Daves Killer Bread, 10 gm protein, 10 gm fiber

  • 4 slices Lightlife Foods bacon (or tempeh bacon), 12 gm protein, 5 gm fiber

  • 1/2 c Arugula, .5 gm protein, .5 gm fiber

  • 1/2 avocado 2 gm protein, 7.5 gm fiber

  • 3 slices tomato 1 gm protein, 1 gm fiber

  • 2 tsp Vegenaise 0,0




Photo credit: Clean Eating Magazine


Snack

  • 1 c coconut Kite Hill Foods yogurt, 6 gm protein, 0 fiber

  • 1/4 c berries, .5 gm protein, 1 gm fiber

  • 1 oz almonds, 6 gm protein, 3 gm fiber


Photo credit: nutritionfacts.org

Dinner-BIG satisfying salad

  • 2 cups spinach, 2 gm protein, 1.5 gm fiber

  • 1/2 c Love Beets 2 gm protein, 2 gm fiber

  • 1/2 c lentils, 10 gm protein, 6 gm fiber

  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds, 5 gm protein, 5 gm fiber

  • 1/2 avocado, 2 gm protein, 7.5 gm fiber

  • 4 Tbsp Miso ginger dressing, 1 gm protein, 0 fiber



Snack 2 oz chocolate covered almonds

  • 1 oz chocolate, 2 gm protein, 2 gm fiber

  • 1 oz almonds, 6 gm protein, 3 gm fiber


Who knew? Chocolate has protein AND fiber!

Total please... A whopping 96.5 gm plant-based protein and 71.5 gm healing fiber. So, the next time someone asks how you get protein without eating meat, pull out this meal plan! P.S. for all of you calorie counters, it's approximately 2000 calories.


What's your favorite plant-based food that's a great source of protein?

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