How vegetarians can boost their protein intake with these foods

How vegetarians can boost their protein intake with these foods

This comprehensive guide will help you get the right amount of protein through various food products

Right To ProteinUpdated: Sunday, April 23, 2023, 12:02 PM IST
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Most vegetarians often worry about whether their diet provides enough protein. The common concern is that your diet does not provide enough protein, especially without animal-based food sources like eggs, poultry, fish, and meat. However, by making smarter food choices, you can ensure sufficient protein intake in a strictly vegetarian diet. In fact, choosing a meat-free diet does not mean sacrificing protein intake. There are plenty of plant-based options that can help you meet your daily protein needs.

Unfortunately, many people lack awareness of alternative protein sources to improve the overall nutritional value of their diets. According to the India Protein Paradox Study, over 81% of Indian mothers, incorrectly believe that a regular diet consisting of roti, dal, and rice is enough for their daily protein needs. This highlights the importance of growing knowledge about protein food choices that don’t compromise on your lifestyle.

Soy, the superfood

One highly nutritious legume that contains all nine essential amino acids found in animal-protein foods is soy. It is the only plant-based complete protein source, making it a versatile option for vegetarians. From soy nuggets, soy chaap, soy mince to soy milk, tempeh, tofu, soy offers a variety of plant-based protein foods that can help you meet your daily protein requirements. Moreover, with the rise of new-age alternate proteins made from soy, there are now more options available for those looking to increase their protein intake while reducing their environmental impact.

As we celebrate Global Soy Month 2023, it is essential to understand the role of this superfood as a perfect means to boost nutritional intake and support a healthy, vegetarian lifestyle. Whether you are in-charge of your own nutrition or striving to improve it, you can always lean towards incorporating soy foods that provide high-quality protein, fibre, iron, and a variety of nutrients to your meals.

Plant-based protein options

Other sources of vegetarian, plant-based protein foods include beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. These proteins are low in saturated fat and high in vitamins and minerals. Plant-based protein offers an advantage by providing fibre, which plays a pivotal role in controlling hunger and blood sugar levels, and facilitating regularity in the digestive process. Additionally, consuming a variety of plant-based protein sources can provide all the essential amino acids needed for proper protein synthesis.

Regardless of whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or a flexitarian, the rule to consuming adequate protein in your diet is to include one-fourth of protein-rich foods in every meal. It is also important to consider the many sources of protein available —from superfoods such as soy to whole grains. By choosing from these protein-rich food sources, vegetarians can benefit from decreased hunger, weight loss, and enhanced burning of more calories.

Vegetarian protein shopping list

The next time you’re quizzed on how you get your proteins from a vegetarian diet, here’s a list of foods that you can resort to.

Soy products

Tofu comprises of approximately 20g of protein per cup, edamame contains 17g of protein and tempeh contains about 31g of protein per cup. And a variety of dishes can be made with these foods — from using soft tofu for mouse to using hard tofu as a healthier replacement of paneer to even using fortified tempeh cubes for Asian stir fires and curries.

Whole grains

Quinoa is considered a protein powerhouse. Pick this up on your grocery run for quinoa pulao, quinoa salads, quinoa upma and even tikkis.

Nuts & nut butters

Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts are good sources of protein, but they are high in fat so need to be consumed in moderation, not as your primary source of protein. At the same time, nut butters, like soy nut butter in their natural form is a quick pre-workout protein snack.

Pulses

Dals have been our primary source of protein for a long time. But it is important to understand the proportion and form to make sure you meet protein needs. On an average pulse contain about 18g of protein per cup.

Dairy

Dairy continues to be common source of vegetarian protein in India. About 100g of Greek yogurt consists of 10g of protein while 100ml of milk has around 3.4g of protein.

(Right To Protein is a dedicated protein education initiative)

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