Do Vegans have protein Deficiencies?
Is it even possible to get enough protein on a plant-based diet?
What is important to keep in mind when transferring to a meat-free diet?
These are questions I am frequently asked by perspective clients. To keep it simple, my short answers in chronological order are...
If you want the real answers, keep reading...
I would say that the real misconception is how much protein the average person needs. With the RDA stating that the average person needs is 0.8g/kg of body weight, that is a lot less than you would think. For example, a woman weighing 135 lbs would need about 49 grams of protein (135 lbs / 2.2 kg X 0.8 g/kg= 49 grams). Although, I will say, specializing in weight loss and diabetes management, I usually put my client on a higher protein diet for increased satiety and more normalized blood sugars (Fox, Elizabeth A et al).
Got it, so what does that mean...
A 135 lbs women only needing 49 grams of protein per day, that is extremely doable on a plant-based diet. Let’s say that that woman is physically active, consistently does resistance training, and is trying to lose weight. With her needs, she is suggested to eat 100 grams per day. Even still, a plant-based diet could still be used to achieve this high amount of protein with a little planning. Usually when someone is trying to lose weight, they typically cut down on carbs and/or fat, depending on their individual macro needs, while increasing their protein. This is easily done with meat eaters, because meat and dairy can provide lean protein options with a lower amount of carbs. Even without dairy or meat, a higher protein, can also be achieved with plant-based eaters by being a little savvy with their choices.
So what's the takeaway for a successful high-protein, plant-based diet...
My suggestion for a plant-based eater would be to maximize all carb and fat choices. Meaning, most protein plant-based options are paired with either fat or carbs, so you need to be smart about your choices. Do not just eat a carb or a straight fat, make sure the plant-based food source is a carb and protein food (such as legumes), or a fat and a protein (such as nuts and seeds). The goal is to base each meal/snack on some sort of plant-based protein. Also, make sure you enjoy that plant-based protein, or diet adherence will never occur. When you focus on protein first, it can be simple to put a well-balanced, nutrient-dense, plant-based meal together that is also high in protein.
Now for the Good Stuff, below is a list I created for my Telehealth clients that I wanted to share. Print it off, put it on your fridge, and feel good knowing that you have lots of fantastic, plant-based protein options for better blood sugar control and weight loss.
WANT A SUPER SIMPLE, GO-TO LIST?
YOU'RE IN LUCK.
Below I've spent many hours researching and creating this list of the top 38 Plant-Based Proteins. They are ranked by most protein for serving size, color coded depending on food category, and each serving size is reasonable. Meaning, I do not expect you to eat 1 cup of Spirulina to get 96 grams of protein. Holy henna, that would be really gross. If you can eat more than 1 tbsp of Spirulina, I consider you a die-hard.
If you want a pdf version, either contact me, OR join my totally free FB Diabetic Support Group.
Fox, Elizabeth A et al. “Perceived Protein Needs and Measured Protein Intake in Collegiate Male Athletes: An Observational Study.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 8 (2011): 9. PMC. Web. 13 Sept. 2017.
matthew.kadey.MS.RD. “The Ultimate List Of 40 High-Protein Foods!” Bodybuilding.com, 6 July 2017, www.bodybuilding.com/content/ultimate-list-40-high-protein-foods.html. Accessed 3 Sept. 2017.
“Serving Size.” WebMD, WebMD, 20 Nov. 2015, www.webmd.com/diet/serving-size. Accessed 3 Sept. 2017.