Some people may worry about getting enough protein on a plant-based diet, especially if they are active or otherwise have high protein requirements.
In this post, we will discuss the importance of protein on a plant-based diet and provide a recipe that uses pea protein, a great plant-based alternative to whey protein.
The Risk of Protein Deficiency on a Plant-Based Diet
While there can be benefits to following a plant-based lifestyle, there can also be a higher risk of protein deficiency in some individuals. Especially those with increased protein requirements, such as athletes, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and older adults.
This risk can be mitigated by consuming a variety of protein sources throughout the day, including whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and soy products.
If you have a higher protein need, then you just need to plan your protein intake a bit more than people consuming animal products.
One of the key things to consider is complete and incomplete proteins, as we will discuss further below.
But first, let’s see how to make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of protein.
Getting Enough Protein on a Plant-Based Diet
First of all, To find out how much protein you need, you can use a simple calculation based on your body weight. The general recommendation is to consume at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
To calculate your protein needs, simply multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8. For example, if you weigh 70 kilograms, your recommended protein intake would be 56 grams per day (70 x 0.8 = 56).
But as previously mentioned, if you are an athlete or someone with higher protein needs, it’s best to consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional who can provide personalized recommendations based on your individual needs and goals.
Once you find out your general protein requirements, then the consideration turns to the plant-based aspect.
You must not only get enough protein but also make sure that you get adequate amounts of complete proteins.
Complete vs. Incomplete Proteins
Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids, and there are nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own, and you must obtain these amino acids from your diet.
Animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs are considered “complete” proteins because they contain all nine essential amino acids in sufficient amounts.
On the other hand, many plant-based foods are considered “incomplete” proteins because they lack one or more of the essential amino acids.
Incomplete protein doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re inferior sources of protein. It just means that you must eat protein from a variety of plant sources to make sure you’re getting all the essential amino acids.
For example, combining grains and legumes (such as rice and beans or hummus and pita bread) can create a complete protein source.
Let’s take a look at some good sources of plant-based protein.
Plant-Based Protein Sources
There are many plant-based foods that are rich in protein. Some examples include:
Legumes (such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas)
Nuts and seeds (such as almonds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds)
Whole grains (such as quinoa, brown rice, and oats)
Vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts)
Soy products (such as tofu and tempeh)
Pea Protein – the Ideal Plant Protein?
Pea protein is a relatively new player in the protein powder market, but it’s quickly gaining popularity for its high protein content, easy digestibility, and versatility.
In addition to being a great source of protein for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, pea protein has also been shown to have other health benefits. For example, it may help reduce your risk of high blood pressure and improve kidney health issues.
Pea protein is made from yellow split peas, and boasts a superior amino acid profile, making it a great alternative to whey for those on a plant-based diet.
You only need to consume a bit of brown rice with some lentil soup made from yellow split peas to get a complete protein profile of amino acids, plus a healthy dose of protein that counts towards your daily goals.
Or, you can take a high-quality pea protein powder, like Naked Pea from Naked Nutrition, if you’re too busy to prepare meals. A single-ingredient pea protein powder like Naked Pea is great for a morning smoothie or post-workout shake. I have been adding pea protein to my smoothies and finding that I have a lot more stamina during the day.
Otherwise, be sure to give this delicious, high-protein lentil curry recipe a try.
Recipe: High-Protein Lentil Curry
1 cup yellow split peas
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can of coconut milk
Salt and pepper
- Rinse the yellow split peas and soak them in water for at least 2 hours (or overnight).
- In a large pot, heat some oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes until softened.
- Add the minced garlic, grated ginger, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, turmeric, garam masala, and cayenne pepper to the pot. Stir well and cook for another minute or two until fragrant.
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