There is a lot of hype these days around high protein, low carb diets when it comes to losing and maintaining weight and body composition. This way of eating has been popularised by diets such as the Atkins diet and the Paleo way of eating (both of which I have tried). These diets have a heavy focus on the consumption of meat and other animal products at the expense of grains, legumes and other elements of the nutritional ‘plate’. While it has long been known that protein is an essential nutrient for the body, there are many sources other than meat through which the body can obtain adequate protein. This is where plants come in.
I was once a big meat eater. When out at a restaurant, I would more often than not order the fillet steak and would enjoy every last morsel of the tasty flesh. These days however, my palate has taken a rather large shift away from meat. I now find the taste overpowering and heavy. I feel as though meat sits in my stomach for too long while my digestive system strains under pressure to break down the huge pile of animal tissue in my body. Since heavily reducing the amount of meat in my diet, I have looked to alternative sources of protein to ensure I am eating enough of this essential dietary requirement. Below are my top plant-based protein sources:
Quinoa is a powerhouse of nutrition. While it has a similar appearance to a grain, it is actually a seed (and a gluten-free one at that). Quinoa is high in amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and also contains essential fatty acids.
One cup of chopped broccoli provides 2 to 3 grams of protein. When accompanied with other high protein foods, such as quinoa, broccoli can serve as a complete protein source.
Avocados can contain 3 to 4 grams of protein. The beauty of this fruit is that it can easily be included in the diet at practically every meal – as a spread on your morning toast, in your salad at lunch or as the base to your guacamole for dinner.
These little spears contain 4 to 5 grams of protein per cup. An added bonus is that this veggie contains vitamin B6, which is essential in the absorption of proteins.
Another one of my favourite foods! A quarter cup of almonds contains a whopping 8 grams of protein. The beauty of these nuts is their versatility. You can use them anywhere from almond butter/milk in your smoothie, as a snack, crumbled in salads or as part of a trail mix for dessert.
Although when eaten in isolation the above foods provide less amounts of protein than red or white meat, the quantity of vegetables a person consumes throughout the day are much higher than one or two servings of meat. This means that by eating plant-based protein, you are gently consuming this essential building block at a steady pace throughout the day.