When it comes to protein, there’s a common misconception about how much we actually need on a daily basis. And in the fitness world, many people swear by living a high-protein diet to build muscle and aid in weight loss by making you feel fuller. But how much is too much?
The American Dietetic Association says that for the majority of active adults, they only need to consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (1 kg = 2.2 pounds) of body weight per day. So for those that are consuming meat at every meal? They’re ingesting about five times too much of their recommended daily intake. On the other hand, too little protein is a bad thing as well. Protein malnutrition can lead to a condition called kwashiorkor, and can also cause growth failure, loss of muscle mass, decreased immunity, a weakening of the heart and respiratory system, and even death.
Meat is often looked at as being one of the top sources for protein, hence why so many scratch their heads in confusion as to how a vegetarian or vegan will go on without biting off a piece on a regular basis. But there are a lot of misconceptions regarding this ideology that ought to be cleared up. First off, we need to consume foods that provide us with the nine essential amino acids that our bodies are not capable of creating on their own.
While many have argued that meat is the go-to source because it provides the entire pack, there are some plant-based foods that also contain them.
While underconsumption of protein is harmful to the body, overconsumption comes with risks as well. In the United States, the average omnivore gets more than 1.5 times the optimal amount of protein, and most of that protein is from animal sources. This is bad news, because excess protein is turned into waste or turned into fat. This stored animal protein contributes to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation and cancer.
On the other hand, the protein contained in whole plant foods is connected to disease prevention. According to Michelle McMacken, MD, a board-certified internal medicine physician and an assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine:
“[T]he protein found in whole plant foods protects us from many chronic diseases. There is no need to track protein intake or use protein supplements with plant-based diets; if you are meeting your daily calorie needs, you will get plenty of protein. The longest-lived people on Earth, those living in the “Blue Zones,” get about 10% of their calories from protein, compared with the U.S. average of 15-20%.”
There is a lot to love about these powerful seeds. They have 4 grams of protein in every 2 tablespoons, they aid in digestion, and they help to keep you feeling fuller for longer. They also provide you with all of the essential amino acids your body needs. I like to sprinkle them on top of my yogurt for a little added crunch.
This ancient grain is another complete protein that has been making waves in the health world recently as a trending superfood to fill up on. And with 8 grams of protein per cup, it’s no wonder why. It’s also a great alternative to rice with its impressive fiber and iron count.
Speaking of yogurt, it is also a high-protein option. With twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt, a 6-ounce container packs a protein punch with 17 grams. It’s great for either a breakfast item or anytime snack.
The only vegetable that is a complete protein, edamame, or soybeans, are a great alternative to meat. A half-cup of soybeans has about a whopping 34 grams of protein, whereas a half-cup of chicken comes in at roughly 17 grams.
With 18 grams per boiled cup, lentils provide you with 37 percent of your daily recommended iron. If that’s not enough to spike your interest, they also contain more than half of your daily recommended fiber intake, AND they can aid in lowering cholesterol. Lentil soup anyone?
With 10 grams of protein per a 2 tablespoon serving, hempseed provides a generous helping of all nine essential amino acids. If you’re vegan, these should be on your list, as they contain essential fatty acids, like omega-3s. I sprinkle them on my salad for added texture.
For a great protein-filled snack, almonds are your go-to. They provide about 5-7 grams per ounce, are packed wth healthy monosaturated fat and fiber, and you’d be surprised at how much just a handful can curb your appetite.
Avo toast, avocados sliced on a salad, in a sandwich, or eaten straight up with a spoon makes me swoon. This fruit is a melt-in-your-mouth healthy treat. It also has 2.9 grams of protein per one cup, sliced.
“8 Great Sources of Protein That Aren’t Meat” by Collective Evolution.was originally published on