10 underrated meat -free protein sources
Vegetarians and vegans, listen up! We've uncovered 10 incredible meat-free protein sources which you might not have considered. Are you ready to chow down?
Turns out there' s no need to buy fake, meat-replacement products and branded products. Vegans and vegetarians can enjoy nature's bounty and get plenty of natural protein.
Vegetarian protein sources
Whole eggs and egg whites are a staple in most bodybuilder's diets, and for good reason. They are a complete protein, containing all the amino acids necessary for building and retaining muscle. Always try to include at least one yolk (even if you choose to use whites for the volume) because that's where most of the good stuff is (including fat-soluble vitamins, healthy fats, and minerals). You'll get about 6 grams protein from a whole egg, and 4 grams in one egg white.
Tasty, user-friendly and protein-rich, ricotta cheese contains around 14 grams of protein per half-cup, and is particularly high in the amino acid lysine. Choose low-fat ricotta or full-fat, according to your own dietary needs.
Cottage cheese (or curd cheese) is another regular feature on a bodybuilder's diet, because it's low in fat, high in protein, and can be eaten plain, sweetened or in savoury dishes. Cottage cheese is the casein by product of milk production, and a very slow-releasing protein.
If you haven't heard of quark, search for it in the supermarket next time you shop. It's found in the diary aisle and is a very low fat, thick, tasty cream cheese which can be used in savoury or sweet meals and snacks. It's very high in protein and a great alternative to cottage cheese or yoghurt.
Real Greek yoghurt is a fantastic high protein food for vegetarians. Look for the real stuff - not "Greek yoghurt style" - to benefit from the high protein content of this strained, concentrated yoghurt. Avoid any with fillers, thickeners, sugars and flavourings. Eat it plain, or add nuts, seeds, berries or nut butter.
And for the vegans - protein from non-animal sources
Plant-Based Protein Powders
Whey protein dominates the protein powder scene, but there are plenty of vegan protein powders available. Look for pea protein (it's from split peas, not green peas!), hemp protein and brown rice protein powders, or a blend. Yummy!
All seeds are a good source of protein, but pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds top the list at 5 grams of protein per 1 oz. Hemp seeds and flax seeds are another excellent choice. Use seeds to top oatmeal, to sprinkle on smoothies, or to bake with.
All types of nut are a vegan's friend when it comes to protein intake, but watch the accompanying high fat count. Walnuts are a great choice, being particularly high in anti oxidants. Almonds, cashews and brazil nuts also carry significant amounts of protein. Choose the raw, unroasted nut, or try nut butters (think beyond traditional peanut butter!)
Don't forget your veggies on the quest for protein! Some vegetables are surprisingly high in protein: brussels sprouts, broccoli and spinach (6 grams protein per cup), and asparagus (4 grams per cup). Even the humble white potato has around 4 grams protein per medium potato!
Beans And Pulses
Most vegans already know how rich beans and pulses are in protein (not to mention fibre). Topping the list are soy beans (4 grams protein per ounce), navy beans (8 grams protein per 4 oz) and lima beans (5 grams protein per 4 oz). However, it's best to combine beans and pulses with other protein sources, as they tend to be very incomplete protein sources, lacking certain amino acids. So combine with rice, green peas, sun dried tomatoes and leafy green vegetables for a more complete vegan protein hit.