In a previous post about carbs, I talked about how ever since I made the decision to get serious about leading a healthier lifestyle, I’ve been obsessed with protein. And after becoming a vegetarian, that obsession only intensified.
It’s no secret that protein is vitally important to our bodies. After all, it provides the building blocks to every single cell. But I also believed a lot of things about protein that wasn’t necessarily true.
So here’s what I’ve learned about protein since becoming a vegetarian!
You Don’t Need More Protein Than Carnivores
After I became a vegetarian, I automatically assumed that I would need to consume more protein than my carnivore counterparts. But that’s totally false!
My protein needs are exactly the same as they’ve always been, it simply just takes more food to get there.
Based on my height, weight and activity level, I need about 50 grams of protein a day. Being on a plant based diet means I need to consume more vegetarian protein-rich foods to reach my goal, it doesn’t mean I suddenly need more protein!
Vegetarian Protein Is Easy To Find
Whether you want to buy faux meat (which I sometimes buy and I think is actually very tasty) or stick to basics, protein-rich food is everywhere! As long as you’re aware of what is in your food, finding vegetarian protein options becomes less of a hassle!
There’s More To Your Diet Than Protein!
The very first thing people ask me when I tell them I’m a vegetarian is, “where do you get your protein from then?” Honestly, I think carnivores obsess about protein more than vegetarians do!
But here’s the deal, there’s more to a healthy diet than just protein! According to my wonderful doctor, only about 30% of your daily calories should come from protein. That leaves 70% of your diet that needs to be made up of other nutrients!
So the next time somebody obsesses about your protein intake, remind them that a healthy diet also consists of things like calcium, iron, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals and, in case they’re wondering, you’re getting plenty of those, too.
Not All Proteins Are Created Equal
Being aware of what’s in your food is essential; but so is knowing that all proteins aren’t created equal. You need to know the difference between complete and incomplete vegetarian protein.
Unfortunately, the majority of vegetarian protein (with a few exceptions like soy, dairy and quinoa) are incomplete proteins. This means that these protein sources are lacking some of the essential amino acids that would make it a complete protein.
Luckily, with a little planning, a diet of vegetarian protein can be just as healthy as a carnivorous one. Knowing which foods to pair with each other to build a complete protein will help ensure your body is utilizing all of the protein you give it properly.
Track Your Protein
A successful vegetarian diet really comes down to tracking and planning. And as I mentioned before, vegetarian protein often needs to be paired with other food sources to make it a complete protein so tracking your protein sources and intake helps you fill in the gaps you’re missing.
Don’t Waste Your Money On Protein Shakes
Trust me. Just don’t.
If you’re planning and tracking your food intake like you ought to, you really shouldn’t need protein shakes! Try getting your protein through food first, and use shakes as a last resort if you’re finding you really just can’t hit your protein needs.
Unless you’re planning on hitting the weights hard and bulking up, there’s really no need for you to have so much protein.
Don’t Let People Make You Think It’s Not Possible To Get All Your Protein
As most vegetarians will tell you, there are so many options for vegetarian protein out there. So when people (carnivores) tell you that it’s not possible to get all your protein needs, just remember that’s completely false!
Just keep planning your meals and making sure you’re hitting all your nutritional needs. Your doctor will tell you if you’re not getting all your protein needs, not your family, friends and random people who will try and insert themselves into your dietary business.