“Plant-Based” Doesn’t Have to Mean “Low Protein”

"Plant-Based" Doesn't Have to Mean "Low Protein" by Finley Funsten

Protein is the primary component of pretty much everything in your body, and its dietary intake is essential in preserving muscular, organ and all-around cellular health. As a certified strength and conditioning specialist, I’ve seen firsthand how critical an even higher level of protein becomes when a regular workout schedule is added to one’s routine. It is absolutely critical to repair and build muscle tissue as part of the recovery phase.

Many vegans and vegetarians, however, struggle to get an adequate amount of protein to support their lifestyle. Herbivores who are very active or enjoy intense workouts feel this struggle most of all. Fortunately, it’s doesn’t have to be that hard!

Whether you prefer to get your protein from whole foods or “faux meats,” there are plenty of protein-dense, plant-based options available to you.

Here are some that I recommend.

  • Plant-based protein bars. ONE’s recent plant-based addition to their rockstar lineup, ONE Plant, is a natural place to start. Not only convenient and delicious, ONE Plant Bars pack a serious protein punch—clocking in 12 grams of protein per bar.
  • Tofu. A fantastic source of iron, zinc, and calcium. Tofu also contains all 8 amino acids, which is something most other plant-based protein sources can’t boast. I recommend sticking to fermented tofu sources to avoid the more harmful anti-nutrients present in the unfermented varieties.
  • Tempeh. This soy-based source is like tofu’s cousin. It’s made directly from cooking and fermenting soybeans (whereas tofu comes from condensed soymilk). Many plant-based dieters prefer tempeh because of its heartier taste. It’s a great substitute for meat in stir-fries, sandwiches or your favorite homemade veggie burger!
  • Faux meat. Throw a rock at the freezer section of any grocery store, and you’re likely to hit one of what feels like millions of plant-based burgers and faux-meat products. There are some wonderful selections to choose from here! Just be sure to take a look at the ingredients list so you know what you’re getting.

"Plant-Based" Doesn't Have to Mean "Low Protein"

  • Beans and lentils. Bonus! Beans have crazy amounts of beneficial micronutrients like iron, potassium and magnesium… not to mention an impressive fiber count. And you probably also know about the assortment of bean and lentil-based pastas out there. Pasta night just got a hulked-out facelift!
  • Quinoa. Not too shabby of a protein count coming from the grain family! Start swapping your rice for quinoa and double your protein intake for the same quantity.
  • Nuts, nut butters and seeds. Yes, these are primarily a fat source, but they carry a notable amount protein in a serving! Did you know that pepitas pack 11g of protein in ¼ cup serving? Not too bad! Extra credit: for seeds, stick to chia, flax and hemp seeds for a great source of omega fatty acids!
  • Protein powder. There are plenty of plant-based options here! Throw a scoop into your favorite smoothie or jar of overnight oats for a quick, convenient protein boost.
  • Vegan egg. Yes, this exists! You can find it in just about any grocery store.

See? Incorporating protein-dense sources of plant-based foods is more than manageable… I’d even argue it’s easy. You just need to know where to find them.

“Plant-based diet” doesn’t need to be synonymous with “low-protein diet.”

As you plan your grocery haul out, I recommend incorporating a variety of the above foods as opposed to relying on just one type of plant-based protein. Plant-based protein sources contain varied (and sometimes limited) assortments of essential amino acids. These acids are not naturally occurring in the human body, so we must supplement them with our diet. Enjoying a variety of plant-based proteins ensures that you’re getting the full range of essential amino acids you need to thrive! You’ll rest easy knowing you’re feeding your body what it needs.

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