Protein is a critical part of our diet, especially if you workout or want to look after your weight. More and more people are beginning to realise how important it is and why it’s worth increasing your intake of protein.
If you’re considering following a plant-based diet getting enough protein can seem like a bit of a challenge. Many of us get most of our protein from meat and dairy products, but as more and more people get interested in vegan and vegetarians diets the ever growing range of protein fortified foods means it’s getting ever easier.
What’s the big deal with Protein?
Protein makes up around 17% of our biomass, including skins, internal organs, eyes hair, nails and of course, muscles. It’s also got a role in appetite control and the immune system. As you might imagine, this makes it rather important, and not having enough protein in your diet and cause a number of health issues including muscle atrophy, wherein your body consumes your muscle fibres to repair tissue - that’s an extreme case though!
At the less extreme end of the scale, not getting enough protein in your diet can impede muscle growth, overall fitness levels or cause weight gain, which sucks.
Protein is made of up of 22 amino acids. 9 of these are known as ‘essential amino acids’ of which we’re unable to produce naturally in the body and need to acquire through food. Foods that contain all 22 amino acids are known as complete proteins, which very few plant-based protein are. Luckily, if you eat a variety of sources of protein you should be covered.
Protein is also super filling, which is one of the reasons protein bars and protein flapjacks are so popular as quick snacks throughout the day when you’re trying to lose weight or increase muscle mass.
How much protein should I eat?
Most of us should aim from between 15-35% of our daily calories to consist of protein depending on our activity levels and goals with more protein being worthwhile if you workout or exercise a lot, though the amount you really need is probably less than you expect.
‘The British Nutrition Foundation suggests for adults, an average requirement of 0.6g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day is estimated. The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) is set at 0.75g of protein per kilogram bodyweight per day in adults. This equates to approximately 56g/day and 45g/day for men and women aged 19-50 years respectively.’
56g of protein per day for a man isn’t a whole lot of protein, so getting enough should be pretty easy considering the average vegan protein bar contains between 15-20g of protein itself.
Even without low sugar protein snacks like our Oatein Millionaire Crunch there are plenty of options to ensure you get enough protein in your diet, it just takes a little thought and pre-planning.
Seitan (pronounced satan, making it the most heavy metal of all protein types) is a high protein food made from cooking down wheat flour until all of the starch has been removed.
Popular in east asian cuisine, seitan has a meat-like texture that makes it suitable as a ‘meat’ replacement, although it’s a pretty versatile food that takes on flavours from seasonings beautifully.
100g of Seitan contains around 20g of protein which is about the same as a similar amount of lean meat, though it’s not a complete protein.
You could call lentils ‘superfoods’ if you’re into that kind of hyperbole. At the very least, they’re and excellent source of protein, carbohydrates and fibre, containing nearly half of your daily required dietary fibre (in a 100g serving!).
With around 10g of protein per 100g, they’re not quite up their with seitan, but the variety of different types of lentils makes them ridiculously versatile. From Indian dhal, to stews to Italian pasta sources as a low-fat mince swap-out.
Not only are they delicious, but lentils are also bursting with vitamins and minerals, with vitamin B6 and iron being some of the big hitters.
Tofu and Tempeh
If there was ever a stereotypical ‘vegan food’ it would be tofu.
Made from soybeans, tofu and tempeh are one of the only complete proteins suitable for vegan diets, making them a fantastic addition to your diet.
They’re both highly nutritious. 100 grams of Tempeh contains 11 grams of fat, eight grams of carbohydrates, and 20 grams of protein per serving, making it an exceptional filling food type.
Tofu on the other hand has five grams of fat, two grams of carbohydrates, and 8 grams of protein per 100 grams with about half the number of calories of a the same weight of tempeh.
Tofu itself doesn’t have much taste, but it’s take it on well making it great for stir fry’s, curries or any meal that needs a bit more texture!. Tempeh has a decidedly savory, nutty flavour profile and works brilliantly for burgers, soups and chillis.
Pulses and Beans (Legumes)
Pulses, beans and peas come in a million different types (actually about 40,000!) and most varieties of beans contain high amounts of protein per serving.
Examples include chickpeas, kidney beans, green peas. Most types contain between 7-10g of protein per 100g serving. They’re also a great source of complex carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals.
Chickpeas, to take just one example are another versatile source of protein. Most commonly found in Indian and Middle-Eastern cuisine, (Don’t forget Hummus, nom!) chickpeas can are perfect in a wide range of dishes.
I mean, it would be stupid to not mention oats at Oatein.com if we have the chance right?
Our favourite power-food. Oats contain around 12-16g of protein per 100g as well as a high quantity of fibre and cholesterol lowering beta-glucans.
Oats are perfect for a variety of meals - maybe some flapjacks (mix em with protein powder to create a ‘super-flapjack’, they go well in smoothies, or of course for making a classic porridge with a few bits of fruit.
You can learn more about why oats are...oatsome [here]!
Nuts, Nut Butter & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are especially high in protein and are great for snacking on as a kind of trail mix (goes great with dried fruit!) or as an ingredient in plenty of different types of cuisine.
Peanuts for instance contain 26g of protein per 100g, just make sure to check the nutritional tables if you’re looking at salted or flavoured varieties of nuts and they’re often exceedingly high in salt and fat.
Many nuts contain large amounts of good-quality fats, fibre and nutrients. This does mean they can be quite high in calories.
Nut butters are another popular option, with some being fortified with extra protein. Be wary of nut butters with additional oil, salt or sugars which can make them more like nutella than a healthy way to increase your protein intake. Your typical spoonful of smooth peanut butter contains between 2-4g of protein. Noice.
Vegetables in general don’t contain vast amounts of protein but that alright, we love them either way.
If you’re looking to increase your intake of protein with veg the best choices are broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, asparagus, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Generally leafy or starchy vegetables.
While an average serving only contains between 2-4g of protein, as part of a meal or your overall diet they’re worth factoring especially when you consider all of the vitamins and minerals you find in most vegetables.
Oatein Millionaires Crunch
Oooo. Now we’re on to the good stuff. Meet the Oatein Millionaires Crunch.
We’re being a bit cheeky here, but the Millionaire Crunch is our first vegan protein snack and we’re really chuffed with it!
Made using vegan protein powder (soy protein) the Millionaire Crunch is gluten-free, so it’s suitable for celiacs, it’s palm oil-free and low/zero sugar (2 flavours are low sugar, 2 of them are zero sugar).
It’s our own delightful take on the Millionaire Shortcake. Wanna try it? Click below.
A Comparison of Protein Sources
Here’s a quick comparison guide of a variety of protein types both non-vegan and vegan
|Food type||Protein content (g) per 100g|
|Non-Vegan Protein Sources|
|Meat||Chicken breast (grilled without skin)||32.0|
|Dairy||Whole milkCheddar cheeseWhole milk yogurt||3.325.45.7|
|Beans||Kidney beansBaked beansTofu (soya bean steamed)||22.214.171.124|
|Grains||Wheat flour (brown)Bread (brown)Rice (easy cook boiled)OatmealPasta (fresh cooked)||126.96.36.1991.26.6|
*Thanks to https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients/protein.html?start=4