Protein: How Much? What kinds?

Even if you’re not eating an exclusively plant-based diet, protein is incredibly important to your overall health and well being. For those of us trying to lose weight or simply maintain, protein is essential to make sure you’re not hungry all of the time. But how much? What kinds? What are some of the best sources of protein, other than meat?

How Much Is Enough?

On average, you need about 46-56 grams of protein a day depending on your activity level, age, and gender. You can calculate your protein needs here.

Why is Protein Important?

In order to build and maintain muscle mass, you need to be eating enough protein! For those of you trying to lose weight and becoming frustrated with why your current diet isn’t working, it probably is because you aren’t eating enough protein. The more muscle mass you have, the more efficient your body becomes at burning calories. More muscle mass also helps to boost your metabolism. Protein also fills you up, which keeps you from making unhealthy food choices out of hunger.

Best Sources:

  • Soy Milk. (1 cup = 7 grams of protein). One word: smoothies.
  • Kidney Beans. (1 cup = 13 grams). Kidney beans are high in flavenoids, which are nutritious compounds found in plant-based foods that yield many benefits, including disease prevention. Looking for a good recipe for kidney beans? Check out my vegan minestrone soup! Delicious, chock full of vitamin-rich veggies, and you’ll have plenty of leftovers.
  • Oatmeal. (1 cup = 6 grams). My go-to morning food. Top it off with some cashews (1/4 cup = 5 grams!) for added protein and fresh fruit for taste.
  • Almonds. (2 tbsp = 4 grams). I cannot praise almonds highly enough. I really can’t. They may taste like cardboard, but they are so healthy. Man up and grab a handful.
  • Organic Peanut Butter. (2 tbsp = 8 grams) Not only can you mix some weight-loss aiding cinnamon into the mix and serve with apples, peanut butter is delicious all on it’s own!
  • Tofu. (5 oz = 11 grams). If plant-based dieters had a signature food, tofu would be it. Seriously, this spongy protein-filled goodness is our version of meat. MorningStar sells “meat” products that are really just flavored tofu. Amy’s Kitchen has a ton of delicious frozen foods for vegans and vegetarians that often times include tofu. It’s the magic bullet for our protein needs, and it’s a Chameleon food. It assumes the taste of the food and sauces around it! And it’s incredibly versatile. You pretty much have to be cooking-impaired in order to screw up tofu.

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