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14 Plant-based Foods High in Protein

14 Plant-Based Protein Foods for Athletes



There is a widespread belief that only animal foods provide sufficient complete protein. But the reality is, many plant-based protein food sources contain abundant and complete protein.

The Benefits of Eating Plant-Based Protein

 Plant-based proteins tend to be lower in calories and fat than animal proteins but higher in fiber and essential nutrients. By swapping plant proteins for animal proteins, you can reduce your caloric intake and boost your daily nutrient profile. You may need to consume a variety of plant proteins to get all of the essential amino acids, but that’s also the best way to make sure you get all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you need.

Proteins are made up of amino acids and there are 20 of them in total. The human body is able to synthesize or create 11 of them – the remaining 9 are known as “essential amino acids” because they must come from your diet. A complete protein is one that contains all 9 of those essential amino acids and there are several plant foods that fit this description such as quinoa, buckwheat, hemp, and soy.

-- Protein SEEDS! Benefits of Eating Seeds! Top seeds for Protein

Vegetarian diets

 have also been shown to support health, including a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased longevity.

Plant-based diets offer all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health, and are often higher in fiber and phytonutrients. 

14 Plant-Based Protein Foods You Should Eat

For those who want the best performance, consider these foods out. People who are athletes, seniors, and for those who want to optimize their health, it'll be ideal to go about.

1) Organic Tempeh — (1/2 cup): 16 grams of plant-based protein

tempeh and vegetable stir fry
This fermented soy food has loads of protein. Try it as a substitute for bacon on a BLT, chopped up on a tasty salad, or in a stir-fry with some colorful veggies. Tempeh also makes a great addition to chili.

2) Lentils — (1 cup, cooked): 18 grams of plant-based protein

Lentils are a delicious addition to many meals, and at an average of $2.00 per pound, they’re highly affordable, too!

Try red, green, brown, yellow, or black lentils — and add them to a Buddha bowl, make lentil soup, or incorporate them into burritos or tacos.

3) Organic Edamame — (1 cup, cooked): 17 grams of plant-based protein

This Asian staple is soy in its most natural state. And it can be quite addictive (in a good way!).

Eat edamame out of the shell, wrapped up in summer rolls, or as a regular in your salad rotation.

4) Chickpeas — (1 cup, cooked): 16 grams of plant-based protein

chickpeas corn and kidney bean salad

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are highly satiating. They’re also the main ingredient in one of my favorite spreads: hummus.

Try making your own hummus. Or add chickpeas to salads, bowls, or roast them for a crispy, on-the-go treat.

5) Black Beans — (1 cup, cooked): 12 grams of plant-based protein

Chow down on these protein-rich beans any time of the day.

Combine them with whole grains for a protein-packed combo, turn them into a spread, or whip them up into a nourishing soup.

6) Hemp Seeds — (3 Tablespoons): 10 grams of plant-based protein

These tiny little seeds pack a powerful dietary punch; they’re rich in protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids.

Small but mighty, they make a great addition to smoothies, bowls, or sprinkled on salads. Instead of adding protein powder to your smoothies, add a scoop of hemp seeds.

7) Quinoa — (1 cup, cooked): 9 grams of plant-based protein

This increasingly popular seed is on menus everywhere these days. (Yes, it’s technically a seed — not a grain, though it cooks and tastes like a grain.)

Try quinoa instead of rice in plant-based sushi with this recipe from Lazy Cat Kitchen, use it as a base for bowls, or even make a Crustless Quinoa Quiche.

8) Organic Extra-Firm Tofu — (3 oz): 9 grams of plant-based protein

If you’re not a fan of tofu — you probably just haven’t found your favorite way to eat it. The possibilities are almost endless with this ancient staple.

Try the extra-firm variety in stir-fries, marinate it in your favorite sauce, bake it, or plop it in a soup.

9) Almonds — raw (1/4 cup): 8 grams of plant-based protein

A perfect on-the-go snack, almonds are high in healthy fats and other good-for-you ingredients, including fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B2.

Eat almonds on their own or smother almond butter on sandwiches or apples. You can also chop them up and add them as a crunchy addition to your favorite dish.

10) Sunflower Seeds — (1/4 cup, raw): 7 grams of plant-based protein

These little seeds have superpowers!

Try them on their own, sprinkled on salads or zoodle dishes, or even made into a Sunflower Seed Butter via this recipe from Minimalist Baker.

11) Oatmeal — (1 cup, cooked): 6 grams of plant-based protein

Not just for breakfast anymore, oatmeal can be included in so many recipes (they even make milk with it now!).

Make some overnight oats with this recipe from Cookie and Kate, try this Savory Oatmeal from Forks Over Knives, throw some into your smoothie, or make oat waffles.

12) Broccoli — (1 cup, cooked): 6 grams of plant-based protein

broccoli and mushrooms stir fry

Broccoli is a healthy cruciferous vegetable — and also a surprisingly good source of protein.

Add it to salads, make it into soup, saute it, or add it to quinoa for a protein-packed dish.

13) Chia Seeds — (2 Tablespoons): 6 grams of plant-based protein

Ch-ch-ch-chia! Sound familiar? For many folks, their only experience with chia seeds growing up may have been via the infamous Chia Pets. But these teeny little seeds are now becoming an increasingly popular superfood because of their high protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acid content.

Make a chia seed pudding, use chia seeds in smoothies, or add them to salads and oatmeal. And here’s an important tip: Like flaxseed, it’s best to grind your chia seeds to get the most nutrients possible.

14) Pumpkin Seeds — (1 oz, cooked): 4 grams of plant-based protein

For many people, roasting fresh pumpkin seeds from a jack-o’-lantern is a fun (and delicious) fall activity. But even if it’s off-season, you can buy these hearty seeds (also known as “pepitas”) almost anywhere.

Eat them as a snack when you travel or throw them on top of salads and bowls. You can also whip pumpkin seeds into hummus.

Plant-Based Protein Supplements

It is okay to buy and use plant-based protein supplements. Supplements are to supplement something; in this case, protein...Protein can be obtained from consuming foods, so if you're not getting enough protein in for the day, consider using supplements. It's different because protein supplements only contain certain nutrients, vitamin and minerals whereas a whole food source of plant-based foods provides more vitamins, minerals and nutrients because it's not modified to change the nutrients.

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