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Nutrition Series: Volume 1, Article 4 – Plant-Based Protein

Most foods have at least some protein.

Although animal based foods are typically higher in protein than many plant-based foods, it is important to understand that there is protein nutrition content in plant based foods. When we eat balanced meals keep in mind that it all adds up. 

While plants contain protein, they don’t have as much protein per volume as animal foods such as beef, chicken, or fish. Plants are not protein dense.

Still, it all adds up.

For example, a bowl of beef chili contains:

  • 3 ounces of ground beef = 21 g protein
  • 1 ounce of corn = 3 g protein
  • ¼ cup of black beans = 4 g protein
  • 2 ounces of avocado guacamole = 2 g protein
  • Total: 30 g protein

In this example, beef has the most protein. Notice that plants provide 9 grams—about one-third—of the protein content of this meal. 

I want to/already eat mostly plants 

If you’re a mostly plant-based eater (e.g., vegetarian or vegan), with some careful menu planning, you can meet high protein needs with plants. Please keep in mind that this takes effort and planning. Meeting your needs is challenging without paying attention to your nutrition. 

Be mindful since most plant based protein sources are also high in carbohydrates. Pay attention to balancing your macronutrients overall throughout the day.

There is a sample meal plan at the end of this article that contains daily meals, servings, recipes, food shopping list, and a portion guide.

To start let’s look at a list of higher-protein grains:

  • amaranth
  • buckwheat
  • millet
  • oats
  • quinoa
  • sorghum
  • spelt
  • teff
  • wild rice

Beans and legumes:

  • black, red, white, or pinto beans
  • chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • edamame (soybeans)
  • lentils
  • bean-based noodles and pastas (which are also great for many people who can’t tolerate wheat)

Plant-based protein powders:

Mindful Eating Helps

Your food will digest better if you slow down and relax while you eat. No matter if it’s animal, vegetable, or mineral, it’s best to eat your food slowly and mindfully whenever you can. Eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.

It’s also important to vary your nutrition. Make sure to eat lots of different plant foods along with your other protein choices.

Here is a one week sample of a Vegan Meal Plan that includes daily meals, servings, recipes, food shopping list, and a portion guide. This meal plan was written for a female weighing 130-150 lbs.

Coach Dan


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