If you follow a plant-based diet then the chances are you have heard that dreaded question before – “Where do you get your protein?”
Proteins, often a hot topic in the nutrition world, are necessary for all of us. Without them the cells in our body can’t repair and regenerate themselves. When we consume protein, our body breaks it down into amino acids, which is what our cells are made of!
Plant protein comes packaged in healthy fibres and carbohydrates that your body needs to fuel itself. Animal-based protein sources are often high in cholesterol and animal fats. Despite animal proteins often being advertised as ‘complete’ sources of healthy protein, they often aren’t always so healthy after all!
When we look a little closer at the wide range of plant-based foods available to us, we can see that complete proteins can be found within these foods too. The definition of a complete protein is when it consists of all of the necessary amino acids that the body needs.
However, it is important to remember that not all protein is the same: different sources contain different amounts of amino acids. And, that’s why it is important that we mix and match!
Most amino acids are pretty easy to get from any balanced plant-based diet, but some are tougher, such as lysine. If you eat tofu, beans and tempeh, you’ll surely be just fine. But if these things are not a part of your diet then you should pay attention to your lysine intake. Another limiting factor could be methionine. But fear not! By combining your pulses and beans with grains, you are pretty much guaranteed to get enough of them both.
One thing is obvious: variety is the key! Different foods contain different amino acids and thus a balanced and a varied diet ensures you have covered all of the bases. Not all of the ingredients need to be complete proteins, as long as your daily intake is covered.
Here are a few simple tips to give you a head-start when it comes to fulfilling your protein quota on a plant-based diet!
First of all, mix your rice with beans. The beans complement the low lysine content of the rice and the rice compliments the beans’ methionine. Check out my delicious recipe for making baked beans at home!
Secondly you can eat your bread with humous to create another a lysine-methionine power couple. Alternatively, try peanut butter. A two slice sandwich with two tablespoons of peanut butter contains an impressive 15 grams of protein!
Finally, add more spirulina into your diet. You can effortlessly do this by adding a dash to your grains and oats. Spirulina on its own lacks cysteine and methionine, but that’s nothing a tasty green porridge can’t fix!
To put it simply: you probably don’t have to worry about your protein count if you are eating a healthy and varied plant-based diet!
For more top tips on nutrition head to The Flexi Foodie Academy now!