If I told vegetarians that you need to consume 100 gm of protein, you would be shocked, wouldn’t you? “Isn’t it too much for my kidney to handle?,” or “do i actually need that much?
Well, the current recommended protein intake RDA—0.8gm/kg of body weight—is based on the needs of sedentary individuals. This means it is intended to represent a level of intake necessary to replace losses and hence avert deficiency.
However, this intake is not likely to offset the oxidation of protein/amino acids during exercise, nor it is sufficient to provide an increase in lean tissue or aid in the repair of exercise-induced muscle damage.
RDA guidelines do not reflect the requirements of hard training individuals seeking to increase muscle mass—in fact, numerous studies indicate their optimal requirements are approximately double that of RDA’s recommendation and should be adjusted to at least 1.6 to 1.8g/kg for active individuals. To read my detailed article on how much protein one should consume every day, click here.
A study compared normal healthy adults following a normal unrestricted protein diet and compared them with a group of vegetarians who maintained a long-term low-protein diet. The results suggest that a high protein non-vegetarian diet does not significantly affect how the kidney functions with regards to “normal ageing” in healthy subjects. If you have renal issues, consult your physician before you embark on a high protein diet.
Now, lets look at the top sources of protein for vegetarians, which should be consumed on daily basis to help cross the 100 grams/day intake –
Cow’s Milk: I drink about 1 litre of milk daily. I add one cup of either yogurt or lassi (a fermented dairy drink) to get a dose of healthy bacteria for my gut. Having a healthy gut flora also improves net protein utilization.
Protein in 1 liter milk: 32 grams.
Lentils: Ah daal(lentils) one of the most prominent dishes in an Indian menu. Lentils are a decent source of protein. The ratio between protein and carbohydrates is 1:3. Nothing is wrong with this, as one medium cooked bowl of lentil will provide you anything between 7 to 10 grams of protein versus 21 to 30 grams of carbs. There is a slight problem, though, when we add a lot of chapatis to complement it because chapatis contain a lot of carbohydrates, skewing the protein to carbohydrates ratios to around 1: 6. I personally make sure I have two bowls of lentil which provides me roughly 15-20 grams of protein, and I skip eating chapatis if I don’t feel like having it.
I don’t like eating grains much anyway! You can also substitute lentils with black beans or cow-peas, as both contain almost the same protein as lentils, making it a nice alternative on days you don’t feel like having lentils!
Protein in 2 medium bowls of cooked lentil: 17 grams.
Almonds and Walnuts: If you check my travel bag, the one thing I always carry, besides some fruits and whey protein, are two small containers of walnuts and almonds. They are my favorite snacking option—these nuts prevent me from eating junk if I run out of healthy options. Twenty almonds ( one ounce ) and ten walnuts provide me with roughly 10 grams of protein.
Protein in almonds and walnuts: 10 grams.
Vegetables: Do they really have protein? You betcha! Protein is 34% of broccoli’s dry matter, offering four grams of protein per cup. Spinach contains five-and-a-half grams of protein per cup. I juice vegetables a few times a week, and one large glass of 500 grams of vegetable juice contains around fifteen to twenty grams of protein.
Protein in 1 large glass of vegetable juice: 15 grams of protein.
Whole Eggs: there are a lot of vegetarians who include eggs in their diet. We call them eggetarian. Eggs are my all time favorite source for protein. In fact, for the last few years, I have 4-5 whole eggs at least 5 days a week, either boiled or in the form of an omelet. Occasionally, I eat eggs in raw form (eggnog, topped with cinnamon and nutmeg). I prefer free-range eggs, since they have high nutritional content, overall, than regular eggs.
Protein in 4 whole eggs: 28 grams of protein.
Whey Concentrates: Yeah, not isolates. You can read why here. If you are a vegan weight lifter, you need whey! I prefer no more than 20 to 30% of protein from whey source. I usually consume whey in the form of a post-workout meal. One serving gives me around 20 —30 grams of protein.
Protein in 1-2 servings of whey concentrates: 20 to 30 grams of protein.
Total protein from whole foods: 102 grams/day
Total protein from whey concentrate: 20-30 grams/day
Protein grand total: 122-133 grams/day
Vegans, EASY! I know you don’t have eggs and milk, which can drastically drop your protein count. I agree that getting 100 grams of protein daily could be a bit of struggle for you guys, but here are a few more sources, which are completely animal-free:
Quinoa: One cup of cooked quinoa (185 grams) contains about 8 grams of protein. It is a great source of iron, fiber and magnesium.
Sprouted-Grain Bread: Ezekiel bread is a good example of a sprouted bread that contains protein. While most breads contain added sugar, Ezekiel contains none! The sprouting process changes the nutrient composition of the grains significantly. Each slice of bread offers 4.8 grams of protein along with 3 grams of fiber, which is a pretty good combination.
Nut Butter: One tablespoon of nut butter contains around 4 grams of protein. Just two slices of Ezekiel bread and two tablespoons of bread are capable of giving you around 16 grams of protein.
Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is rich in lauric acid, which is known to be anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal; it boosts your immune system. Each 100 grams of milk contains 2.3 grams of protein. Not bad at all!
Still want to ask, where you can get enough proteins from? Yeah, that’s what I thought 🙂