When you think of protein, the first thing that comes to mind is probably meat, eggs and cheese, right? Did you know, though, that every whole food contains protein? In fact, there are many protein-packed plant foods (some higher than others) that contain a variety of amino acids, which are the building blocks for protein that help build healthy muscle.
Eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables will ensure you get the appropriate amino acids that are much easier for the body to use than consuming protein in the form of animal products.
Every food that you eat contains amino acids (some lower than others, but nonetheless, contain these wonderful protein building blocks). Our bodies are incredibly intelligent and can take the food you eat, break it apart, and absorb the nutrients it needs from that food item. When we digest foods, the amino acid chains are broken down and made ready for our bodies to use. Eating wide varieties of plant foods will ensure that you get a wide variety of different amino acids.
For example, lets take the info-graphic below:
You could eat 100 calories of broccoli (4 cups) and receive over 11.2 grams of protein OR,
You could eat 100 calories of steak (a small fist-full) and receive 5.4 grams of protein.
Although you may need to eat a little bit more broccoli to make up for the density of calories in steak, it really isn’t that hard to get enough protein eating a vegan diet. I can easily mow through 4 cups of broccoli in a sitting, plus a meal on top of that.
In fact, there are many vegan bodybuilders, ultra-marathon runners and award winning athletes out there, which proves that eating a plant-based diet can easily supply you with more than adequate amounts of protein.
All of your protein needs can be met with a plant-based diet. Below is a list (including but not limited to) which can act as a quick reference for getting you started on consuming amino-acid rich plant foods:
1. Chia seeds (1/4 cup = 12 grams)
2. Hemp seeds (1/4 cup = 10 grams)
3. Sunflower seeds (1/4 cup = 8 grams)
4. Spirulina (1 oz. = 16 grams)
5. Quinoa (1/4 cup dry = 6 grams)
6. Sesame seeds (1/4 cup = 7 grams)
7. Pumpkin seeds (1 oz. = 9.35 grams)
8. Mushrooms (1 cup – 5 grams)
9. Barley grass (1/2 cup, juiced = 12.6 grams)
10. Watercress (1 cup = 3 grams)
11. Peas (1 cup = 8 grams)
12. Asparagus (8 spears = 3.08 grams)
13. Romaine (1 cup = 1 gram)
14. Almonds (1 oz. = 6.03 grams)
15. Cauliflower (1 cup = 2.28 grams)
16. Maca root (1 tbsp = 3 grams)
17. Broccoli (1 cup = 5.7 grams)
18. Kale (1 cup = 2.5 grams)
19. Sprouts (1 cup = 5 grams)
20. Avocado (1 avocado = 4 grams)
21. Brazil nuts (1 cup, shelled = 20 grams)
22. Figs (1 cup = 2.5 grams)
23. Goji berries (1 cup = 10 grams)
24. Spinach (1 cup = 5.35 grams)