Most people think steak, chicken or fish when they think of protein-packed meals. That’s not the entire truth. And unfortunately, this myth is fueled by a healthy meat industry that profits when you buy their propaganda. Turns out, a plant-based diet can pack the same punch as other sources. A complete protein is one that contains all nine essential amino acids that you need to consume through food: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
Try these 3 tricks for the ultimate protein-packed plant diet:
- Eat a variety of whole foods. Loading your diet with different vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, peas, beans, legumes and fruits optimizes the amount of the nine essential amino acids you’re giving your body. The World Health Organization recommends that 5 percent of our daily calories (a little more if we training or working out) come from protein. On average, fruits have about 5 percent of their calories from protein. Vegetables, 20 to 50 percent. Sprouted seeds, beans and grains, 10 to 25 percent.
- Eat more raw foods. Studies have shown that baking or grilling makes about half of the protein in the food unusable to the human body. Raw or living proteins are an even better source than cooked plant foods. We need 25 to 35 grams of protein a day. That means that if you eat 2,000 calories per day of raw plant foods containing average of 10 percent of their calories from protein, you would get 200 calories worth of protein, or 50 grams. This is more than adequate to support great health. Optimize your intake of raw foods by adding a fresh raw vegetable salad to every meal.
- Eat more superfoods: Plant-based sources of complete protein are referred to as ‘superfoods’ and they’re easily obtainable from supermarkets, health food stores and online. They include:
- Hemp seeds
- Bee pollen
- Goji berries
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Spirulina and chlorella
- Dulse (a sea vegetable)