How to avoid protein deficiency on a vegan diet

Whether you’re a longtime herbivore or have recently been considering switching to a plant-based diet, you’ve probably wondered how you can get more protein as a vegan.

As an essential micronutrient, protein plays many important roles in the body, aiding in everything from muscle growth to tissue repair to immune strength. Since most protein-rich food types come from animal sources, getting the recommended amount of protein each day can get tricky if you don’t eat meat, poultry, dairy products, or eggs, but fortunately, that’s all. ‘other than impossible.

Below, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to help you diversify your diet and prevent protein deficiency.

How do vegans get enough protein?

According to the current version of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended daily amount of protein to prevent deficiency is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.

For example, if you weigh 190 pounds (86 kilograms), you should aim for 68.8 grams of protein per day. Keep in mind that this recommendation applies to the average sedentary adult. Seniors and physically active individuals will need a little more protein each day.

If you follow a plant-based lifestyle, you can reach this recommended amount by adding some of these vegan protein sources into your diet:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Peanuts
  • Seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Nutritional yeast

6 protein intake tips for vegans

High resolution vegan protein powder in jar and scoop

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Looking for ways to increase your plant protein intake or avoid protein deficiency? Try these tips.

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Use quinoa instead of rice

While both of these grains are good sources of carbohydrates and fiber, quinoa is the best choice if you’re aiming to increase your protein intake. When cooked, quinoa contains 8 grams of protein per cup, compared to brown rice’s 5 grams of protein per cup.

What’s more, quinoa is also a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine types of essential amino acids that your body can’t make but needs for key functions like energy production, tissue repair, and digestion. ‘immunity. Most other complete proteins come from animal sources, which makes quinoa stand out in terms of nutritional benefits for vegan diets.

Use vegan protein powders

Incorporating vegan protein powder into your diet is a quick and easy way to increase your protein intake, especially if you’re in a rush to get moving in the morning.

Even better? There are many plant-based protein powders available today, and you can use them in all sorts of ways. For example, you can start your day in an energizing way by mixing your protein powder with water or plant milk. For a heartier vegan meal, you can mix the powder into oatmeal, add it to baked goods, or blend it into a smoothie or protein shake.

Provide your body with essential amino acids

Proteins are made up of 20 amino acids, 11 of which the body can make itself. The other nine are found in food products. As we said, when foods contain all nine essential amino acids, they are called complete proteins.

Most complete proteins are animal products (including meat, eggs and dairy products). For vegans, there aren’t many foods that contain all nine amino acids that aren’t created in the body. However, some plant proteins are rich in some essential amino acids, such as soybeans, tofu, seeds, nuts, beans and lentils. By increasing your intake of these amino acid-rich foods, you can get closer to meeting your daily protein goals.

However, beans by themselves lack all essential amino acids. Consider combining beans and rice for a complete protein. When eaten together, each food contributes to what the other lacks.

Start each day with protein

If you start the morning with a protein-rich meal, there’s less pressure to figure out how to hit your protein goal for the rest of the day. Plus, eating protein for breakfast will help you feel full and satisfied and give you the energy to take on the day.

Oatmeal is a great example of a protein-rich vegan breakfast. Compared to other grains, oats are high in protein and have a good balance of essential amino acids. For a little more flavor, you can add things like fruit, nut butters, or seeds. Other protein breakfast options include scrambled tofu or tempeh, or fruit smoothies with plant milk and vegan protein powder.

Add beans to everything

Beans and legumes are one of the most exciting plant protein sources simply because there are so many varieties and no shortage of ways to use them in your meals. Plus, in terms of protein content, they pack a serious punch. For example, cooked chickpeas contain 14.5 grams of protein per cup, while one cup of cooked lentils contains 17.9 grams of protein.

Need some inspiration on how to incorporate more beans and legumes into your vegan diet? If you like soup, you can add beans or lentils to boost the protein. Or you can make vegan bean tacos with black beans or pinto beans. You can also enrich your salads with peas or chickpeas. (Plus, no matter what you’re whipping up, these kitchen tools can help you with vegan meal prep.)

Sprinkle nutritional yeast on your meals

Nutritional yeast is a food product of plant origin with a savory taste and a high protein content. (There are 3 grams of protein in every two teaspoons of nutritional yeast.) It’s also a complete protein, with all nine essential amino acids you need to get from food.

Even though nutritional yeast is plant-based, it has a nutty, cheese-like flavor that’s great for vegans who want a little taste of something savory. You can sprinkle nutritional yeast on everything from popcorn to soups to pasta, simultaneously enhancing the flavor of your food and also increasing its protein content. Additionally, nutritional yeast is very high in vitamin B12, a common deficiency in vegans since vitamin B12 is often found in animal products.

Bottom line

Getting enough protein each day is a common concern among many future and first-time vegans, but it doesn’t have to be. From using plant-based protein powders to choosing foods rich in amino acids, there are many ways to get the recommended daily amount of protein on a vegan diet.

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