Sunday, March 11, 2018

Vegetarians: How to Get Enough Protein?

As a vegetarian, should you be concerned about protein deficiency?  The answer is probably NO for at least two reasons:
  • People are actually more likely to suffer from protein excess than protein deficiency
  • If you know what sources of plant protein to take 

How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

In [1], Dr. Michael Greger provides the following guidelines:
Adults require no more than 0.8 or 0.9 grams of protein per healthy kilogram of body weight per day, which is about your ideal weight in pounds multiplied by four and then divided by ten. So, someone whose ideal weight is 100 pounds may require up to 40 grams of protein a day. On average, they probably only need about 30 daily grams of protein, which is 0.66 grams per kilogram, but we round it up to 0.8 or 0.9 grams because everyone’s different and we want to capture most of the bell curve.

Adverse Effects of Protein Excess

People are actually more likely to suffer from protein excess than protein deficiency. “The adverse effects associated with long-term high protein/high meat intake” diets may include:[1]
  • Disorders of bone and calcium balance
  • Disorders of kidney function
  • Increased cancer risk
  • Disorders of the liver
  • Worsening of coronary artery disease
Considering all of these potential disease risks, there is currently no reasonable scientific basis to recommend protein consumption above the current recommended daily allowance.

Plant-Based Proteins

At Cleveland Clinic, it has pointed out the following 5 top sources of plant protein for your plant-based diet:[2]
  • Cooked Legumes
    • 17g in 1 c.* lentils
    • 16g in 1 c. chickpeas
    • 12g in 1 c. black beans
  • Soy
    • 17g in 1 c. edamame
    • 15g in 2 oz. tempeh
    • 7g   in 3 oz. firm tofu
  • Nuts and Seeds
    • 9g in 1 oz. hemp seeds
    • 8g in 1 oz. pumpkin seeds
    • 7g in 2 T nut butters
    • 6g in 1 oz. almonds
    • 5g in 1 oz. chia seeds
  • Cooked Grains
    • 8g in 1 c. quinoa
    • 4g in 1 c. oatmeal
  • Cooked Vegetables
    • 5g in 1 c. spinach
    • 4g in 1 c. Brussels sprouts
    • 2g in 1 c. broccoli
*: cooked cup (240 ml)

Complete Proteins

Did you know? Most plants are considered “incomplete proteins” because they lack some of the essential amino acids (total: 9). However, there are a few unique plants that are considered “complete proteins.” Listed below are plant-based foods that are considered complete proteins:
    • The highest source of iron among all gluten-free grains, amaranth is a complete protein and can be made into flour or toasted much like popcorn.
    • An ancient cereal grain of Peru, quinoa cooks similar to rice but in half the time. This gluten-free grain contains healthy omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and is a complete protein.
    • Buckwheat is actually a seed and not a grain. Unroasted buckwheat groats have a soft, mild flavor, while the roasted variety has an earthy, nutty flavor. A complete protein, the triangular seeds are frequently made into flour and is the primary ingredient in Japanese soba noodles.
    • Chia seeds are complete proteins and the richest plant-based source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Because chia seeds can absorb more than twelve times their weight in water, they are often used to add fluffiness in baked goods and are also used to replace eggs in vegan products.
  • HEMP:
    • A seed that can be eaten raw, ground into a meal or sprouted, Hemp contains omega-3s and is high in gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a healthy omega-6 fatty acid. This seed is a complete protein and can be easily made into a vegan milk by blending raw hemp seeds and filtered water.
    • Soybeans (including edamame) and soy foods such as tofu, natto and tempeh are a complete protein. When choosing tofu, the firmer the tofu, the higher the protein content.
    • Spirulina is a blue-green algae that grows in oceans and salty lakes in subtropical climates. A complete protein, spirulina is sold in supplement form and can help boost the growth of gut-friendly bacteria in the intestinal system.


  1. How Much Protein Do You Really Need?
  2. Plant Proteins that Pack a Punch (Infographic)
  3. The 17 Best Protein Sources For Vegans and Vegetarians
  4. Plant Proteins that Pack a Punch (Infographic) 
    • 1 lentils, 2 hemp seeds, 3 chia seeds 4 quinoa 5 spirulina 6 nutritional yeast 7 seeds 8 nuts 9 beans 10 tempeh/organic tofu/edamame
  6. Healthy Aging: Protein Consumption Advice for the Elderly (Travel to Health)

No comments:

Post a Comment