Protein is a very long-established and well-researched part of successful weight loss.
Studies showed greater weight loss, fat mass loss, and preservation of lean mass after higher-protein calorie-restriction diets than after lower-protein calorie-restriction diets. Reductions in triglycerides, blood pressure, and waist circumference were also reported. In addition, more satiety effect, including greater perceived fullness and elevated satiety hormones after higher-protein meals. The satiety effect of protein is partly mediated by a synergistic effect of the satiety hormones GLP-1 and PYY released from the small intestine.
During weight loss, higher protein diets preserve lean body tissue, another key factor in long term optimal fat to muscle ratio. This was true with meals that contained at least 25 grams or more of protein at one serving but also had the same results for protein replacement meals.
Getting the weight loss and muscle preserving and building benefits of protein is possible on a vegetarian diet. Here are your 10 best options.
- High protein white beans, white beans contain almost 18 grams of protein per serving where other beans can range from 9 grams to 17 grams.
- Quinoa, Teff, and Amaranth are protein powerhouses averaging 8 to 10 grams of protein per serving with largely a complete protein profile similar to meat. Make sure to soak and cook these naturally gluten-free “seed” grains well to unlock their macro and micronutrient potential and render them easy to digest.
- Pumpkin seeds yield around 9 grams of protein per serving and pumpkin seed protein powder yields 19 grams of protein! Pumpkin seeds are also rich in zinc and omega 3’s which are also often only found in fish and meat sources.
- Lentils have 9 grams of protein per serving, which is less than white beans but still, more than 1 egg, which has 5 grams per one egg and many people find lentils easier to digest than beans, especially sprouted lentils.
- Hemp seeds have 6 grams of protein per serving and are easy to throw into a smoothie or onto a salad. They are also rich in omega 3’s, which becomes even more valuable if you are not eating fish.
Other tips for maximizing protein through plant-based foods are buying and preparing veggie burgers than combine beans, quinoa. Eating complete protein sprouted bread as your only bread source. Even your serving of broccoli gives nearly 5 grams of protein, so protein can add up and get you to your minimum of 25 grams per meal. If you are not vegan I recommend high protein greek yogurt, pasture eggs, and grass-fed whey protein, these will get you between 10 to 24 grams of protein per serving.
My favorite plant-based morning protein smoothie recipe:
- 2 scoops of pumpkin seed protein (19 grams protein)
- 2 TB of hemp seeds (6 grams protein)
- 1 TB of almond butter (7 grams of protein)
- 1 cup berries (1 gram protein)
- Filtered water, ice or your favorite seed, nut or oat milk
This yields a whopping 33 grams of protein, lots of healthy “fat-burning” fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber while also staying low glycemic.