Transitioning to a plant based diet can be overwhelming initially (well at least it was for me). What will I eat? What should I buy? Where do I get the protein required to balance a meal to reach my goals?
The best thing I did was start cooking more, experimenting with flavours/ingredients and structuring my meals around including plant based protein sources, with carbohydrates and fats (like flax seeds, advocado, nut butters) to cover the macro-nutrients I was aiming for. I quickly learnt that many of the plant based foods I was familiar with had a moderate to high protein content, I just needed to combined these foods to reach an adequate protein intake.
Breakfast Smoothie – soy milk (160 cal, 8g per serve), half medium size banana (52 calories), peanut butter (134 cal, 1 tbps = 6.1g).
Total 14.1 grams protein | 346 cal
Burrito bowl – tricolour quinoa (126 cal, 100g cooked = 4.4 g), black beans (112 cal, 100g = 9g), nutritional yeast (39 cal, 10g = 4.7 g), avocado 160cal, 100g = 2g).
Total 20.1 grams of protein | 437 cal + toppings
Breakfast overnight chia pudding – chia seeds (243cal, 50g = 8.5g), soy milk (160 cal, 8g per serve), peanut butter (134 cal, 1 tbsp = 6.1g), raspberries (53cal = 100g).
Total 22.6 grams of protein | 590 cal
When combining these foods, it was easy to reach the 15-20 g of protein per meal I was aiming for (this amount will be different for everybody, I strength train 5-6 days a week and focused on maintaining my current weight so I’m not trying to cut calories or eat low calorie foods).
Regarding protein, Better Health Victoria provides recommendations below:
The amount of protein you need in your diet depends on your weight, age and health. As a rough guide, the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for protein (measured in grams per kilogram of bodyweight) is:
- 0.75 g/kg for adult women
- 0.84 g/kg for adult men
- Around 1 g/kg for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and for men and women over 70 years
Some of my favourite plant based protein sources include:
- Chia seeds (also high in fat)
- Black beans
- Peanut butter (also high in fat)
The above list isn’t an exhaustive list nor does it cover all plant based protein sources but they are some of the most commonly used/easy to find items. The greens component is relatively low in protein at 2-4g per 100g cooked although adding this to stirfrys, nourish bowls or burritos in addition to the other protein sources adds to the overall protein content per meal and are great sources of vitamins/minerals (yay veggies).
Some other popular plant based proteins (that I consume less frequently):
- Nutritional yeast (1 serve = 4.7g)
- Tempeh (100g = 11 g)
- Protein pastas made of legumes
Reference: Better Health Vic Protein Recommendations
Please note; I have released a version 2 of my plant based protein poster to remove the greens which have a relatively low protein content to avoid confusion and to focus predominately on the other sources. I look forward to working on more content like this in the future covering other protein sources – I value your feedback always!