I am totally guilty of recommending chicken, chicken and chicken to people as a way to get in more protein. It’s not wrong but I get that not every likes chicken or if you do, you probably get tired of it from time to time.
I am a meat eater but I go through this phase occasionally where I have what I call a chicken/meat aversion, where I can’t stand the thought of eating a bite. Then the next day I am back to my normal ways. With that in mind I decided to share with you 5 meat free foods you can eat to meet your protein needs.
But first lets break down protein. Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids which our responsible for everything from muscle repair to a strong immune system. They also help keep you full, stabilize blood sugar levels and manage cravings.
Foods highest in protein are usually animal based and include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese. These are usually referred to as essential protein sources because they contain all 9 amino acids, which the body can be obtained through diet only, not created on their own. Their macronutrient count is highest in protein.
Secondary protein sources include foods like beans, seeds, quinoa, and nuts. It is important to note that the macronutrient count is usually higher in fat or carbs and less in protein for these foods. For example, while nuts do have some protein they are considered a fat. And while beans are also a good source of protein they are considered a carb.
The best way to meet your needs to get a mix of both sources. If you follow more of a plant based diet your best bet is to include protein from a variety of sources like beans, nuts, seeds and vegetables and less processed foods like cereals, which have less amino acids and little nutrient value.
How much protein?
The recommended amount of protein is controversial but generally is .08g per kg of body weight. For example an 150 lb person would require about 55 grams of protein, minimum. Precision Nutrition notes that this requirement is to prevent protein deficiency and that for those who are more active may require 1.0 to 2.0g per pound kg of body weight and that, “we need a small amount of protein to survive, but we need a lot more to thrive.”
Here are a few ways to get a solid amount of protein in your diet without eat meat or chicken. I also tracked down some delicious recipes for you.
Greek Yogurt (1 cup).
Mix with berries. Add into oatmeal. Eat plain or add a drizzle of honey. This is a convenient, easy post workout snack.
Check out one of my favorite, unconventional ways to use greek yogurt here.
Beans (1/2-1 cup).
Make vegetarian tacos, bean salads, or use as a side to your meal.
Quinoa (1/2-1 cup).
Cook and dice up veggies to add variety and flavor.
2 large eggs.
Scramble, make an omelet, or shred a sweet potato, mix with egg and cook like a pancake.
2 egg whites (or 1/2 cup of liquid egg whites).
Add to oatmeal and cook, use in scrambles and omelets in addition to whole eggs.
Fish (3-4 ounces Tuna, Salmon, Halibut).
Bake in the oven, make salmon cakes (my recipes will be posted soon), add to salads.
Veggies that contain higher protein.
Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Spinach and Peas 5-10 grams per half cup. Roast Brussel Sprouts and broccoli in the oven. Add spinach to omelets, smoothies, or sauté in garlic and olive oil and add to rice and quinoa mixtures.