It is super possible to have a complete and sufficient diet following a plant-based line and without changing body composition but, everything DEPENDS! It depends on the composition of your diet, your lifestyle, level of physical activity … etc! That is why it is so important to accompany a professional nutritionist you trust to ensure that your energy and nutritional needs are being met and that your food is balanced and sufficient within its particularities and preferences.
That said, my idea with this post is to demystify some foods and present good choices of vegetable proteins that can be included in our day to day.
The Most Common Plant Based Feeding Mistakes
- Finding that replacing 1 cup of cow’s milk with almond milk will offer you the same amount of protein. Not! Almond milk is not protein like cow’s milk but will provide you with a good dose of calcium and without the allergenic potential that cow’s milk usually has.
- Forget iron , a very important mineral in our diet. The iron found in meats is more easily utilized by our body, since the iron found in fruits, vegetables and cereals (called non-heme) is less easily absorbed. That is why vegans or vegans who do not have a balanced diet tend to have iron deficiency, which can cause anemia and feelings of fatigue, dizziness and bad mood. Iron is indispensable for the production of red cells and oxygen transport in the body.
- Vitamin C is the best iron friend! It boosts your absorption! Therefore, when using vegetable sources of iron (mentioned above), combine with lemon or orange squeezed over, or taking a lemonade in the meal.
- Finding mushrooms are a good source of protein. I’ve also heard the same thing about broccoli and kale. As nutritious as these foods are, they are not sources of protein substitution. In 1 cup mushrooms you have an average of 3g of protein.
- Do not consume enough calcium: we have the idea that the best source of calcium is cow’s milk and milk products. In addition to beverages or vegetable milks (coconut milk, almonds, nuts and etc), we can still count on the consumption of dark green leaves: broccoli, kale, fig, orange, tahini (sesame) and almonds are some examples .
- Vegan Junk Food. Choosing to cut down on animal feed can be a great option for the health of the world and you, but I see many people swapping meals for chips or bread and cheese. Removing foods of animal origin requires a knowledge not only for the substitution of proteins in food, but also in the harmony of minerals and vitamins! A food rich in fresh foods makes all the difference.
The daily intake of protein recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institute of Medicine of the United States and the Portuguese National Ministry of Health are 0.8 g of protein per kg of ideal body weight. During childhood, adolescence and pregnancy, the recommended values ??are higher: 1.5 g / kg / day (0-1 year); 1.1 g / kg / day (1-3 years); 0.95 g / kg / day (4-13 years); 0.95 g / kg / day (14-18 years); and 1.1 g / kg / day (pregnancy and lactation) (reference 1 and 2 ).
* Just remembering that numbers are references, the ideal value for each individual should be calculated by a nutritionist based on their lifestyle and physical activity level.
Sources of Plant Protein
Following are the vegetable protein sources that I indicated the most, being the first 5 of higher protein content and the remaining excellent protein complements!
The nutritional reference values ??of the foods below are based on a cup of food cooked in water or grilled.
1 – Lentil (198g) – 230kcal, 18g Protein, 40g Carbohydrate with 15.6g of dietary fiber (Net carb: 25g).
Lentils are my favorite and usually have a good digestion, they offer a wide variety of important nutrients in just one cup, especially manganese, iron, folic acid and phosphorus. They can be a great replacement for animal protein! We can turn into meatballs, hamburger, add on soups and salads.
In addition, in its composition are found several polyphenol compounds, which due to their properties are a powerful ally to combat and prevent various diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
2 – Chickpea (164g) – 269Kcal, 14.5g Protein, 45g Carbohydrate with 12.5g of dietary fiber.
Another super versatile source of vegetable protein! There are several benefits, among them we can highlight the regulation of glucose and insulin, can still play a beneficial role in weight control, and have a positive impact on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
They are an excellent source of sterols, tannins, carotenoids and other polyphenols, such as isoflavones, whose benefits can extend beyond basic nutrition needs. One study showed that people who ingest chickpeas consume higher amounts of fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, Vitamin A, E and C, magnesium, potassium and iron compared to people who do not consume.
3 – Tofu (126g) – 88kcal, 21.7g Protein, 3.5g of Carbohydrate and 2.9g of dietary fiber.
One of the most traditional and spoken vegetable protein sources. Despite the benefits of Tofu, I believe it is very important to prioritize an organic option and also not be genetically modified soya, thus minimizing chances of toxicities and allergic processes. That said, it is a very practical and versatile option to include in our day to day and the amount of protein in its composition is quite significant. Another positive point is the variety of brands that offer this type of food and in the most diverse formats and proposals.
4 – Tempeh (100g) – 195kcal, 20g Protein and 7.6g of Carbohydrate.
Tempeh may be new to many, but nowadays we already find some brands in Brazil ( like this one ). Here in California it is very common to find markets in vegetarian sessions. It can be made from soybeans, peas and other grains! Digestion is usually better once they are fermented, as if yeast pre-digesting yeast! In addition to the significant amount of protein, tempeh brings with it probiotics, which are good bacteria that collaborate to increase the absorption of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, thus positively impacting our immunity, improving mood, reducing and improving candidiasis.
5. – Azuki Beans (230g) – 294kcal, 17.3g Protein, 57g of Carbohydrate and 17g of dietary fiber.
In addition to being an excellent protein source, which contributes greatly to the gain and maintenance of muscle mass, Adzuki beans have a very interesting nutritional profile and a generally better digestion compared to other beans. The Azuki bean has more than 29 antioxidant compounds in its composition, making it then a super antioxidant (fighting inflammation and premature aging). And when we look at the relationship between carbohydrate and protein, we see a ratio that helps keep our blood sugar level steady by avoiding undesirable insulin spikes.
6 – Cooked Quinoa (185g) – 222kcal, 8g Protein, 39.5g Carbohydrate with 5g of dietary fiber.
As much as the quinoa is the darling of many vegetarians or vegans, one can see how much protein it is well below the foods mentioned above! It stands out when compared to rice, amaranth, buckwheat which are super nutritious whole grains, but which are more carbohydrate sources than protein. So it is worth mentioning that quinoa is a pseudo cereal, with an amino acid profile that stands out, BUT DOES NOT PROVIDE the same protein content as the legumes mentioned. Its chemical composition ensures antioxidant action, which may be associated with the fight against diseases such as cancer.
The nutritional reference values ??of the foods below are based on 2 tablespoons.
7 – Pumpkin Seed (20g) – 115kcal, 6g Protein, 2.9g Carbohydrate with 1.3g of dietary fiber and 9.8g of Fat.
One of the best plant sources of zinc, therefore can and should be incorporated into the diet of vegetarians, vegans and athletes, who tend to have deficiency of this mineral. Nobody imagines that a seed can be so powerful, but pumpkin seed is one of the most effective foods to eliminate parasites from our body (in this case avoid heating it, prefer raw), increases production of the amino acid tryptophan, which in turn, can collaborate in the mood and even help in our sleep. So a great supper option and also a good snack option for the pampered woman who suffers from PMS.
The frequent consumption of this seed can also give a “brake” on the premature aging, due to the antioxidants present, and still protect our heart, since it is rich in magnesium and omega 3.
8 – Hemp Seeds (20g) – 111kcal, 6.3g Protein, 1.7g Carbohydrate with 0.8g of dietary fiber and 9.7g of Fat.
Seeds are a convenient, quick and easy way to supplement meals and make them richer nutritionally. These seeds have a good protein profile, the main proteins present in the seeds are edestin and albumin, which are easily digested and contain significant nutritional amounts of all the essential amino acids we need to supply our demand. Hemp Seeds along with Quinoa are the only vegetables that have this characteristic. Therefore, they become an ideal alternative for vegetarians and people who have allergy to soy, gluten intolerance and dairy products.
In addition, analyzing the quality and type of fat that is present in the seeds, it is observed that about 80% are polyunsaturated fat, which are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids: linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha acid -linolenic (omega-3).
9 – Chia (20g) – 97kcal, 3.3g Protein, 8.4g Carbohydrate with 6.9g of dietary fiber and 6g of Fat.
Besides being a great alternative to proteins, chia has a very neutral taste and is a key ingredient to our health, not to mention the practicality of its use. It works as a great source of calcium (5 times more than cow’s milk) and also omega 3. The large amount of fiber present in chia contributes to better functioning and intestinal health. The good fats present in chia are great allies to improve our cardiovascular system and also to ensure satiety for longer.
10 – Nutritional Yeast (20g) – 88kcal, 10g Protein, 7.5g Carbohydrate with 5g of dietary fiber.
In addition to being one of my favorite seasonings, it has a taste that reminds me of cheese, nutritional yeast is a great source proteins and vitamins, in particular B-complex vitamins. It also contains folates, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, selenium and zinc , becoming a superfood! And on the other hand it is low in sodium and fat, it does not contain added gluten, sugars or preservatives.
* Nutrition values ??were established based on the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service) database .
- Add the kombu seaweed in the cooking water when preparing the legumes. Its chemical composition, with some specific enzymes, favors the digestion of legumes, making it lighter and reducing the incidence of gases. In addition, its nutritional properties are very rich and make the preparation even more complete with essential vitamins and minerals.
- Preparing the legumes correctly .