One of the most frequently asked questions I get as a vegan bodybuilder where I get my macros from, specifically my protein sources. It is a common misconception that plants do not have much protein and it must therefor be rather difficult to get enough protein to build good muscle. This could not be farther from the truth.
Almost all vegetables and fruit contain some protein not to mention grains and legumes. In fact there are so many delicious options for protein out there that I often find it hard to not buy too many groceries all at once for fear of them going bad before I am able to eat them. In the following few paragraphs I would like to mention a few of these wonderful sources.
1. Green Peas
This legume contains about 7.9 grams of protein per cup according to health.com and 9 grams according to http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2521/2, and add a lovely splash of colour to any meal. If you’re not too keen on the flavour of peas by themselves they can be blended with other ingredients in sauces, stir fries and salads. Green peas contain other valuable nutrients for optimal health such as Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and is a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin and Manganese. (Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2521/2#ixzz40eQv3Lby)
Quinoa is one of my favourite seeds to eat. It is so versatile and can be served hot or cold, cooked or sprouted, adding flavour and texture to any meal. With more than 8 grams of protein per cup and all nine amino acids present it is a complete protein. It is also a great substitute for pasta with a lower fat content. Easy to prepare and with options of white, red or black quinoa this is definitely a delicious food to add into anyone’s meals.
3. Black Beans
All beans are high in protein but my person favourite is black beans. This bean variety has approximately 15 grams of protein per cup and also provides a good amount of Magnesium which is one mineral that is quickly depleted for athletes who are very active. This delicious protein can be served as the main attraction or added into salads and other side dishes. One of my recent favourites is baked sweet potato with black beans, salsa, guacamole and cilantro. Delicious and nutrient rich, this dish is easy and quick to make.
An interesting source of protein for vegans is Tempeh. This is a fermented form of tofu made from soybeans and contains about 31 grams of protein per cup which makes it one of the highest sources of protein for a vegan. Since it doesn’t have much flavour of its own it can be used in a variety of dishes, taking on the flavour of whatever it is served with or the marinade it is covered in. It can be baked, served raw or fried.
I recently discovered hemp tofu which is a great alternative to tofu for those people who would rather not eat so much soy. It is absolutely delicious and I eat it raw most of the time. Hemp, in general is a wonderful source of protein for any athlete. A simple way to add this protein source into your diet is to get hemp seeds and add it to smoothies or even your cereal. Three tablespoons of hemp seed contain about 10 grams of protein. Another alternative is to buy hemp milk.
There are many more sources of plant-based protein that are interesting and tasty. I will be writing more posts on sources of protein in the coming months. Even if you are not vegan or do not plan to become vegan either, adding some of these sources of protein to your diet will ensure that you eat a low-fat, balanced diet for optimum health and wellness.