Do you want to feel satisfied after eating, build lean muscles, boost your immune system, keep your blood sugar stable and support hormone balance? If so, say hello to protein. As one of our three macronutrients, protein is involved in a number of key functions. Indeed, we cannot live without it. Today we dive into protein 101: who, what, where, when and why. Also, a list of high protein foods for plant eaters. While we often associate poultry, fish and red meat with protein, there are countless other ways to top up on amino acids. Yes, this includes high protein fruit.
Featured image from our interview with Ty Haney by Kristen Kilpatrick.
What is Protein?
We start here. Protein is an essential nutrient. We need protein to grow and repair cells, make hormones, keep our metabolism going, and so much more. Speaking of cells, every cell in the human body contains protein! It supports human growth and development. Protein is found in a wide variety of foods (including plants) and it’s important that you get enough of it each day.
Having said that, how much the protein you need will vary depending on your weight, gender, age, and health. Protein comes from both plant and animal sources. Think: eggs, fish, poultry, cheese, tofu, nuts, beans, legumes, seeds, and fruit.
How much protein do you need?
This is how to ask how much water you should drink every day. The answer is nuanced. Ultimately, it is best to take a bio-individual approach. It means you want to consider your genetics, activity level, age, menstrual cycle, and more. While the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is 0.36 grams of protein per pound, which amounts to 54 grams of protein per day for a 150-pound person, most experts will tell you it’s Too short.
As a nutritional consultant, I find a good rule of thumb to be around 20-30 grams of protein per meal, especially breakfast. Again, this will vary across the board (particularly if you’re pregnant).
Everything to know about amino acids
Proteins are made up of amino acids. When proteins are digested or broken down, the amino acids remain. As the building blocks of protein, amino acids are needed to break down food, repair body tissue, and perform many other body functions. They can even be used as a power source! In total, there are about 20 different amino acids that bind together in different combinations. Amino acids are classified into three groups.
Essential amino acids
The body cannot produce essential amino acids. Consequently, they must come from food. The nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
Non-essential amino acids
Non-essential means our bodies Candies produce the amino acid, even if we don’t get it from the food we eat. Non-essential amino acids include alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine.
Conditional amino acids
Last but not least, conditional amino acids. These are usually not essential, except in times of illness and stress. Conditional amino acids include arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline and serine.
What is a complete protein?
When it comes to measuring the nutritional value of a protein, we look at the amount of essential amino acids it contains. Different foods contain different amounts of essential amino acids. In general, animal proteins (chicken, beef, fish and dairy products) contain all nine essential amino acids. These are known as complete protein.
However, there are some plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids: soy products, quinoa, amaranth, Ezekiel bread, spirulina, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, and chia seeds. Other plant proteins such as high-protein fruits, beans, lentils, and nuts aren’t quite complete proteins (but they’re very similar).
Can you get all the protein you need from a vegan diet?
YES! If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, as long as you eat a wide variety of foods, you can absolutely get the protein you need. If you follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, focus on diversifying your plant foods (aim for more than 30 plants, each week). In turn, you will ensure an adequate mix of essential amino acids. You will also need to consider a vitamin B12 supplement. When in doubt, work with an experienced plant health care professional to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins, minerals, and protein.
Vegan sources of protein
With general Taking portion sizes into account, below are vegan protein options (each contains 8-10 grams of protein).
- Nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, etc.): 1/4 cup
- Nut Butter: 2 tbsp
- Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.): 3 tbsp
- Hemp seeds: 2 tbsp
- Tofu: 1/2 cup
- Tempeh: 1/3 cup
- Lentils: 1/2 cup, cooked
- Beans (black, pinto, etc.): 1/2 cup, cooked
- Chickpeas: 3/4 cup, cooked
- Nutritional yeast: 3 tbsp
- Spirulina: 2 tbsp
- Amaranth: 1 cup, cooked
- Quinoa: 1 cup, cooked
10 fruits rich in protein
Speaking of vegan protein sources, below are 10 high protein fruits. While you may not consider fruit a protein-rich food, it can absolutely support your daily protein goals. Eating several servings of fruit a day is a double whammy. It’s a subtle way to increase your protein intake while also boosting overall nutrition. Try to add these protein-rich fruits to your diet.
Have you heard of jackfruit? A tropical fruit related to figs, its texture is eerily similar to pulled pork. For this reason, it’s often used as a vegan alternative in everything from barbecue sandwiches to tacos. A one-cup serving contains three grams of protein. It’s also packed with other health benefits, like fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and more.
Recipe: Minimalist Baker’s Easy Jackfruit Tacos
Another tropical delight, guava is one of the most protein-rich fruits. You’ll get a whopping 4.2 grams of protein in each cup. This tropical fruit is also rich in vitamin C and fiber. Slice or bite into it like an apple. You can even eat the seeds and peel, so there’s nothing to clean.
Recipe: Baby Greens With Beetroot Leaves, Soft-Boiled Egg, And Hot Guava Dressing
You probably already know avocados are a great source of healthy fats, but did you know they also pack three grams of protein in every cup? Avocados are high in fiber, folate, magnesium, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins C, E, and K. This fruit’s unique combination of fat and fiber will keep you full.
Recipe: Avocado Toast With Kale Pesto
One cup of raw (not dried) apricots provides two grams of protein. This stone fruit is also a good source of potassium and vitamins A and C, which is great for eye and skin health. The fiber in both meat and skin can aid in digestion and keep you satisfied.
Recipe: Apricot And Brie Tarte Soleil
With two grams of protein per cup, kiwis are a nutritious addition to any diet. And you don’t have to spend a lot of time preparing kiwifruit. It’s perfectly fine to eat the skin! Just make sure you clean it well, then slice it up and eat it. In fact, the skin houses additional fibers.
Recipe: Hale’iwa Smoothie Bowls
Along with kiwis, one cup of blackberries contains about two grams of protein and a whopping eight grams of fiber. You’ll also find nearly 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, as well as high levels of radical-fighting antioxidants and brain-boosting polyphenols.
Recipe: Pavlova with almond and blackberry cream
If you love dried fruit, you’re in luck. Raisins are a good bet for protein. One ounce, or about 60 raisins, has nearly one gram of protein. Aim for organic raisins (grapes are highly sprayed with pesticides) and snack on nuts, sprinkle them on yogurt for breakfast, or toss them in a salad for a touch of sweetness.
Recipe: Morning Glory Pumpkin Muffins
Known for their potassium (eat one to relieve period cramps!), bananas also contain about 1.6 grams of protein in each cup. They are a convenient source of fiber, prebiotics, vitamin A and magnesium. And PSA: You should eat those stringy bits. They are like the pathway for all the nutrients within the fruit.
Recipe: Chocolate Banana Almond Butter Smoothie
Not only is this citrus fruit a vitamin C superstar, but one medium grapefruit supplies nearly two grams of protein. If they’re too tart for your liking, try this: Heat a halved grapefruit under the oven rack for a few minutes (until it caramelizes the top), then sprinkle ground cinnamon on top. Dig in with a spoon or plate it with Greek yogurt and chia seeds for a blood sugar-friendly breakfast.
Recipe: Pasture table for breakfast
Per cup, summer’s most delicious treat has more than a gram of protein (pitted, of course). They are an excellent source of potassium, which can regulate blood pressure. Cherries also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Cherries are also rich in melatonin, which may support natural sleep cycles. When they’re not in season, you can buy them frozen to blend into smoothies!
Recipe: Churn-free cherry cheesecake ice cream
This post was originally published on December 22, 2022 and has since been updated.
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Image Source : camillestyles.com