When it comes to protein, there’s a common misconception about how much we actually need on a daily basis. And in the fitness world, many people swear by living a high-protein diet to build muscle and aid in weight loss by making you feel fuller. But how much is too much?
The American Dietetic Association says that the majority of active adults, only need to consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (1 kg = 2.2 pounds) of body weight per day. So for those that are consuming meat at every meal? They’re ingesting about five times too much of their recommended daily intake. On the other hand, too little protein is a bad thing as well. Protein malnutrition can lead to a condition called kwashiorkor, and can also cause growth failure, loss of muscle mass, decreased immunity, a weakening of the heart and respiratory system, and even death.
Meat is often looked at as being one of the top sources of protein, hence why so many scratches their heads in confusion as to how a vegetarian or vegan will go on without biting off a piece on a regular basis. But there are a lot of misconceptions regarding this ideology that ought to be cleared up. First off, we need to consume foods that provide us with the nine essential amino acids that our bodies are not capable of creating on their own.
While many have argued that meat is the go-to source because it provides the entire pack, there are some plant-based foods that also contain them. And others have a mix of some and a lack of others. That means, as long as you’re combining foods such as legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains on a daily basis, you’re getting what you need. Here are eight high-protein foods to consume that aren’t meat — and they’ll offer you a plethora of other benefits as well.
1. Chia Seeds
Source: Authority Nutrition
There is a lot to love about these powerful seeds. They have 4 grams of protein in every 2 tablespoons, they aid in digestion, and they help to keep you feeling fuller for longer. They also provide you with all of the essential amino acids your body needs. I like to sprinkle them on top of my yogurt for a little added crunch.
2. Greek Yogurt
Speaking of yogurt, it is also a high-protein option. With twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt, a 6-ounce container packs a protein punch with 17 grams. It’s great for either a breakfast item or anytime snack.
This ancient grain is another complete protein that has been making waves in the health world recently as a trending superfood to fill upon. And with 8 grams of protein per cup, it’s no wonder why. It’s also a great alternative to rice with its impressive fiber and iron count.
The only vegetable that is a complete protein, edamame, or soybeans, are a great alternative to meat. A half-cup of soybeans has about a whopping 34 grams of protein, whereas a half-cup of chicken comes in at roughly 17 grams.
Source: Veg Kitchen
With 18 grams per boiled cup, lentils provide you with 37 percent of your daily recommended iron. If that’s not enough to spike your interest, they also contain more than half of your daily recommended fiber intake, AND they can aid in lowering cholesterol. Lentil soup anyone?
With 10 grams of protein per 2 tablespoon serving, hempseed provides a generous helping of all nine essential amino acids. If you’re vegan, these should be on your list, as they contain essential fatty acids, like omega-3s. I sprinkle them on my salad for added texture.
For a great protein-filled snack, almonds are your go-to. They provide about 5-7 grams per ounce, are packed with healthy monosaturated fat and fiber, and you’d be surprised at how much just a handful can curb your appetite.
Avo toast, avocados sliced on a salad, in a sandwich, or eaten straight up with a spoon makes me swoon. This fruit is a melt-in-your-mouth healthy treat. It also has 2.9 grams of protein per one cup, sliced.
Source: The Style Eater