Protein is an essential macronutrient that is necessary for building and repairing tissues in the body. For vegans, getting enough protein can be a concern since most plant-based foods are not as protein-dense as animal products. However, with the right planning and knowledge, it is entirely possible to meet protein needs as a vegan (even if you’re a bodybuilder!).
In this article, I will discuss how vegans can get 200g of protein a day. I will cover tips on incorporating high-protein plant foods into meals and snacks, supplementing with protein powder, and a few high-protein recipes of mine.
Tip #1 Focus on High Protein Foods
Plant-based protein sources can be just as rich and varied as animal products. Here are some examples of high-protein plant-based foods:
- Lentils: 1 cup cooked = 18g protein
- Chickpeas: 1 cup cooked = 14g protein
- Black beans: 1 cup cooked = 15g protein
- Tofu: 1/2 cup = 10g protein
- Tempeh: 1/2 cup = 15g protein
- Seitan: 1/2 cup = 24g protein
- Quinoa: 1 cup cooked = 8g protein
- Nutritional yeast: 2 tablespoons = 9g protein
- Hemp seeds: 3 tablespoons = 10g protein
- Chia seeds: 2 tablespoons = 4g protein
These high-protein plant-based foods can be incorporated into meals and snacks to meet daily protein needs. For example, a quinoa bowl with black beans, tofu, and vegetables can provide around 30g of protein per serving.
It is also essential to calculate your daily protein intake from these plant-based sources to ensure that you are getting enough protein. A general rule of thumb is to aim for at least 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (this is likely more applicable to sedentary people).
For example, if you weigh 68kg, you should aim for at least 68g of protein per day. More athletic people should likely aim for more protein. So you don’t necessarily need 200g of protein per day, it all depends on your activity levels, gender, weight and occupation!
#2 Use Protein Supplements
In addition to high-protein plant foods, vegan protein powders can be a convenient and effective way to increase protein intake. Here are some common types of vegan protein powders:
- Pea protein: made from yellow peas, high in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), easily digestible
- Soy protein: made from soybeans, complete protein, high in BCAAs, can be allergenic for some people
- Brown rice protein: made from brown rice, lower in lysine (an essential amino acid) but can be combined with other sources to create a complete protein
- Hemp protein: made from hemp seeds, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, lower in protein content than other types
To use protein powder, you can mix it into smoothies, oatmeal, or baked goods for an extra protein boost. It’s essential to follow the recommended serving sizes to avoid overloading on protein.
While protein powders can be a helpful tool for meeting daily protein needs, they are not a replacement for whole food sources of protein. Additionally, some protein powders may contain additives or artificial sweeteners, so it’s essential to read the labels and choose high-quality, minimally processed options.