7 Plant Based Proteins To Put On Your Plate

Plant Based Proteins

By Barb Biagiolli

It’s the question I get asked all the time: “where do you get your protein from?” or “how can I make sure I’m getting enough protein?”. The short answer: it’s not as complicated as you think. Regardless of the existing diet and lifestyle you practice, a diet rich in plant foods will be beneficial to your health while also ensuring you “get enough protein”.

The Protein Myth

Our culture is protein obsessed and prides itself on eating loads of chicken, beef and pork. The truth is, far too many of us are getting far too much protein, more specifically – far too much protein from animal products.

You can meet your protein needs without burgers, wings, and meal-prepped grilled chicken. Yes, it’s true. Plant foods contain adequate amounts of protein – all nine essential amino acids – the building blocks that your body uses to build muscle and regulate immune function, among other important tasks.

Protein can be a touchy subject. But according to most experts, we should get 10% - 35% of our calories from protein. For women, that means around 46 grams each day and for men about 56 grams a day. It’s very rare to be deficient in protein, unless you are deficient in calories! You are more likely to suffer from protein overload, that manifests as gut issues and kidney stones, particularly when you are consuming too much animal protein. Contrary to animal protein, plant based proteins have a host of health benefits, including:

  • Protect against heart disease

  • Lower your risk for diabetes

  • Lower inflammation

  • Aid in weight loss

  • Prevent kidney disease

Did you know that the protein we absorb when eating animals is actually the protein those animals ingest from the plants they eat? So why not go directly to the source. Many plant foods – vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds contain high quality protein that when combined and mixed, contain all of the essential amino acids our body’s need to thrive.

Obsessing about your macros and calories isn’t exactly a prescription for health either. So, unless you’re training for a body building competition, redirect your energy to the number of quality foods you consume on a regular basis, and focus on including a variety of plant based protein sources in your diet by eating a diversity of whole foods. Prioritizing a wide array of plant foods will ensure that you are optimizing your vitamin and mineral intake and retaining proper protein. Your body will thank you.

Switch it up! Try these plant based proteins and reap the rewards.

Lentils: 18g/cup

Lentils are an amazing source of protein and fiber. They go great in soups, chilis, salads, and make a great taco meat filling.

Beans: 15g/cup

Beans are also an excellent source of plant based protein and fiber. They’re the perfect addition to chilis, soups, burritos, buddha bowls and salads.

Chickpeas: 13g/cup

Chickpeas are a versatile way to include plant protein in your diet. You can use them to make hummus, chickpea burgers, or throw them in your salad to “bulk it up”. They’re also great roasted as a salty snack.

Hemp Seeds: 10g/3tbsp

Hemps seeds not only contain protein, but they’re a super source of healthy fats. They have a subtly sweet and nutty flavor and go great sprinkled over avocado toast, in salads, in smoothies, or mixed into your morning oats.

Quinoa: 24g/cup

Quinoa, although considered a grain, is technically the seed of millet. It’s known as one of the best sources of plant based protein and also contains ample amounts of fiber. Compared with other grains, quinoa has a better amino acid profile, making it the perfect addition to one pot meals, skillets, salads, or in Mexican stuffed peppers.

Spirulina: 29g/serving

Spirulina is considered one of the most nutrient dense plant foods on the planet and a plant protein powerhouse to boot! Add a teaspoon to your green smoothie in the morning.

Sunflower Seeds: 29g/cup

Sunflower seeds are more than just a ballgame snack. They’re packed with protein and healthy fats. You can add these to your salads, sweet and savory toast, roasted, or enjoy them as sunflower butter.