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Nutrition

Plant-Based Protein Myths

Posted on October 1, 2018

The first question you’re typically asked when switching to a plant-based diet is, “How will you get your protein?” For some reason, protein is always a skeptic’s first concern. Every time you cough or sneeze, someone will say it’s because you aren’t getting enough protein. That’s why we are debunking the top plant-based protein myths, so you can rest easy knowing you’re meeting your daily requirements and performing and feeling your best

Myth 1

You can’t get enough protein from plants

There are plenty of protein packed plant-based sources like tofu, beans and tempeh. In fact, almost everything you eat contains at least a little protein. Take a common plant-based diet lazy meal, the Buddha Bowl. Throw some broccoli in your bowl, and that could add 3 grams of protein. A cup of brown rice would add 5 grams more. And if you top it with some tofu or tempeh for 12-15 grams of protein, your meal could easily contain upwards of 22 grams of protein. This puts you well on your way to consuming an adequate daily intake.

Myth 2

I need to eat 150 grams of protein a day, right?

A lot of people think they need a very high amount of protein and aim to consume over 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. In fact, though, the recommended intake is 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for the average person. That works out to around 55 grams for a 150-pound person, which is easily attainable amount on a plant-based diet.

Myth 3

Plant-based protein is incomplete

While yes, some plant protein does not contain a complete amino acid profile, there are also many complete sources of plant-based protein that do. Examples include quinoa, chia seeds, hemp seeds and soy products. Furthermore, the study that originally claimed that a complete amino acid profile is needed to be consumed at each meal as been debunked. As long as you are consuming a varied plant-based diet, you should have no problem getting all of your essential amino acids.

Most of the “incomplete protein” sources naturally pair together. For example, a common plant-based meal of rice and beans contains all 9 essential amino acids as does that old childhood standby of peanut butter on whole wheat bread. It’s not hard or complicated to eat all your essential amino acids. Just be sure to consume a mix of grains, cereals, nuts and legumes which are all already considered staples of a plant-based diet.

 

Protein Cheat Sheet

Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame

Soybean based products like tempeh and tofu are stables of a plant-based diet for a reason. A serving of edamame, for instance, contains 18 grams of  protein, 8.1 grams of fiber and 121% of  your DV of folate. Tofu and tempeh are also extremely versatile coming in a variety of textures and taking on the flavor of the dish or marinade. We love this recipe from Jane Gold for a Tempeh Parmesan that’s packed with protein (and absolutely delicious).

 

Legumes

Beans and lentils can be a plant-based person’s best friend. They not only contain a significant amount of protein with most beans containing more than 15 grams of protein per cup, but they’re also filled with fiber and other good-for-you vitamins and minerals such as manganese, iron and folate. Legumes are versatile and can be enjoyed on their own, baked, mashed or crisped. If you’re looking for a fun, protein packed bean recipe, give our Tex Mex Stuffed Squash a try!

 

Grains

We’ve been talking about grains a lot lately and for good reason! They give a meal a protein and fiber boost as well keep you full and satiated. You may not think of grains as a source of plant-based protein, but just one cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of protein. Amaranth has even more at 9.4 grams of protein in a cup. Think of grains as an unassuming protein boost to a meal adding a significant amount of protein without you even thinking about it.

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