By Reliv Key Director, Dawn Tucci and Reliv Europe.
These are times of adaptation and change. Around the world, people have been faced with decisions about how we are going to navigate life, now and into the future. One of the things that we are experiencing is a shift in the availability of food produce that we previously took for granted.
We know that protein is an essential part of a healthy diet. In looking for protein alternatives we may find that we stumble upon better choices out of necessity. Meat is a good source of protein, but alternative sources like plant-based protein have been touted as a healthier solution. There is evidence that many chronic diseases can be reduced by eating a whole-food, plant-based diet. Many also report that eating plant-based protein provides more energy, improved fitness, reduced inflammation and better weight management. Eating a plant-based diet may even help you to live longer, help the environment and support your immune system.
Apples to Apples
Firstly, let’s talk about how animal and plant proteins compare. When relying on plants for protein it is important to combine different plants to give your body a complete source of essential amino acids. Sound complicated? It’s really not.
Animal proteins provide all of the essential amino acids that your body needs, but individual plant products do not and must be combined. There are exceptions: soy and quinoa contain all essential amino acids. Grains and beans complement each other and together provide all of these amino acids, so eating both in a day can provide you with the same nutritional quality protein as if you were to eat meat.
In 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stated, “a vegetarian or vegan diet could provide all of the nutritional requirements of adults, children and those who were pregnant or breast-feeding.” The right plant-based foods are an excellent source of protein and nutrients, often with fewer calories.
So what does your plate look like if you are not able to put meat on it and must rely on plant foods for protein? Eating a variety of these foods will give your body all of the nutrients that it needs to be healthy.
Apples, grapes, berries, citrus fruits, bananas, strawberries etc.
Peppers, avocados, corn, lettuce, peas, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, kale etc.
Potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, beetroot etc.
Whole grain flours, bread, cereals, brown rice, oats, barley etc.
Beans of any kind, lentils, tofu, tempeh
Nuts and Seeds
Quinoa, all nuts, all seeds (sunflower, pumpkin etc.)
Supplements, plant-based milk
How much protein do you need?
There is a simple formula to help you to determine how much protein you need. Divide your current weight by 2.2 and then multiply this by 0.8. This gives you the number of grams of protein that you need to eat in one day. So a 150lb person would need 54 grams of protein per day. Your protein needs may increase if you are very active and want to gain muscle.
How much protein do plant-based products have?
(For comparison, an ounce of meat averages about 7 grams)
Per ½ cup:
- Chickpeas 7g
- Edamame 8g
- Lentils 8g
- Tofu 10g
- Peanuts 20g
- Almonds 16g
- Quinoa 4g
- Green peas 4g
- Dry oats 6g
- Wild rice 3g
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds 2g
- 1 oz nut butter 7g
- Vegetables – those with the highest protein (4 to 5 grams per cooked cup) include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts.
- Try rice and beans mixed together (7 grams per cup), a stalk of broccoli (4 grams per stalk), or a baked potato (8 grams for large).
Don’t forget that many of the Reliv products are also packed with plant-based protein!
Eating more plant-based proteins means that you will get more nutrition and fibre in your diet, often with fewer calories. If you’re not willing to avoid meat entirely, you can still benefit from increasing your intake of plant-based foods.
Try blending Reliv products with fruits and vegetables to create a smoothie to give yourself a plant-based boost for the day!