The majority of people I come across and work with do not always understand where they can find alternative sources of complete plant protein and some will argue that a plant-based diet is lacking and one cannot survive without eating animal flesh. Hogwash!
Also, in my humble opinion, I think we are truly a bit “protein obsessed” in this country! On average, we only need about 20-30% of our calories to come from protein and our bodies can really only absorb about 20 grams of protein per sitting, so consuming globs of whey powders of pounds or grilled chicken breasts won’t do us any good since the body does not maintain a store of excess amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Once your daily protein needs are met, your body has two options for dealing with any excess protein. Option 1: If your calorie intake is low that day, your cells may convert it into fuel. Option 2: If you’ve had plenty to eat that day (i.e. met your caloric intake), your body will convert the extra protein to fatty acids (a.k.a. FAT).
Many argue that plants are not a source of “complete” protein. The term “complete protein” refers the building blocks of protein: amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids that form a protein molecule, and there are nine that the body cannot make on its own. These nine are called essential amino acids and since the body does not produce them, we need to get them from food sources. In order to be considered “complete,” a protein must contain all nine of these essential amino acids in mostly equal parts.
So, animals products such as meat and eggs are naturally complete proteins, and plant sources such as beans, legumes, nuts and seeds are not. But I’ve got news for you; we don’t need every single essential amino acid in every bite of food in every meal we eat; we only need a sufficient amount of each amino acid every day. So, if you are consuming a diet rich in nutrient dense plant-based foods, and grazing all day, your body in its infinite wisdom, is smart enough to do its own combining and you’ll get what you need! So don’t worry too much about that and get your butt to the farmer’s market!
As you browse the list to follow, you can see there are plenty of healthy, nutrient dense, plant-based protein choices listed (that are not just soy-based—with the exception of organic tempeh, which I like on occasion!). A lot of these things can be thrown into smoothies, which I believe is the tastiest way to consume things like blue-green algae, for instance.
Most supplements can be found at your favorite health food store, or online.
POWER PACKING VEGGIE PROTEIN SOURCES
- Green-leafy veggies (spinach, kale, bok choy, collards, green cabbage, arugula)
- Good quality plant-based protein powder (my fave is Sun Warrior)
- Goji berries
- E3 Live (amazing blue-green algae product-this can be extremely powerful for mental clarity!!)
- Blue-green algae such as chlorella and spirulina
- Hemp (raw hemp seeds and hemp protein)
- Pea protein
- Rice protein
- Fresh olives
- Grass powders (wheatgrass, barley grass, etc. I like Amazing Grass’s products)
- Maca powder
- Brewer’s yeast (not recommended for people with candida)
- Raw pumpkin seeds
- Raw almonds
- Sprouted grains
- Sprouted wild rice
- Sprouts of all types
- Nut butters
- Beans (garbanzo, kidney, black, adzuki, etc.)
- Organic, non-GMO tempeh
As you can see, there are plenty of foods to choose from! If you need more specific help incorporating them into your diet, contact me! I can help you come up with some very tasty ways to start consuming more plant-based protein, and I promise, you won’t even miss that burger!