My name’s TJ Waterfall (@TJ_Waterfall) and I’m a Nutritionist specialising in vegan nutrition. I love helping people get the most out of their diet in order to reach new heights of health and fitness over on my site meatfreefitness.co.uk.
One of the most common questions I get asked about vegan and vegetarian diets is how to get enough protein. The answer is: it’s easy, just as long as your diet is varied and balanced! Nonetheless, more and more people are taking notice of their protein intake, because it’s so important for a multitude of reasons, including:
- Our bodies use protein to build tissue, including muscle, making it particularly important for those who exercise regularly (as we all should!)
Our bodies require protein to make enzymes and hormones necessary for healthy functioning
Luckily, it can be very easy to get plenty of protein on a plant-based diet, especially with the help of Vega. Here are my five top tips to help top up your protein intake:
1. Start your day with a smoothie
Smoothies are a great way to start your day. They’re versatile, hydrating, delicious, quick, and can easily be taken with you to have on-the-go. Most importantly, they’re an easy way to up our intake of fruit and vegetables, something all of us should do for a countless number of health reasons. Although fruits and vegetables do contain a little protein, it’s very easy to top up the protein content of your smoothie further by adding a scoop or half a scoop of Vega Essentials (not to mention adding some Vega makes smoothies taste even better)! Check out my guide to the healthiest vegan smoothies here.
Legumes like beans, lentils, and chickpeas are invaluable because they contain so many nutrients that are especially important for vegans and vegetarians like iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. And they’re absolutely packed with protein. So having at least one portion of legumes each day is great not only for upping our protein intake, but for all the other important nutrients they contain. For a legume-packed dinner try this Black Bean Burrito Casserole or this Lentil Bolognese.
We all know how important it is for our health to get a good variety of vegetables in our diet every day. But many people underestimate just how much protein is contained in vegetables too – one cup of peas contains nine grams, a cup of cooked spinach has five grams, and a cup of broccoli has four grams. So you can see how getting several portions of vegetables into our diets each day can contribute significantly to our protein intakes. You can add any veggies you like to this DIY Dahl recipe.
4. Shake after exercise
After exercise, many of us reach for a protein shake because protein helps to build and maintain muscle. So having protein in our bodies at this time ensures we have the building blocks available Vega Clean* Protein is a great plant-based protein powder option, packed with 25 grams of protein per serving, including 4 grams of Branched Chain Amino Acids, so it’s a really quick and convenient way to capitalise on our hard work at the gym.
5. Tofu and tempeh
Tofu and tempeh are made from soy beans which are naturally very high in protein. They’re also lower in saturated fat and contain many other important nutrients like calcium, iron, and zinc. Plus, they make a delicious addition to many recipes like stir fries and curries, because they absorb flavours really well. Firing up the BBQ this summer? Try these Balsamic Tofu Kebabs for a high protein delicious meal.
*At Vega®, Clean means: Non-GMO, suitable for vegetarians and vegans, gluten-free and non-dairy ingredients.