One of my nutrition goals is to reduce and possibly eliminate my red meat consumption for a variety of health reasons. I already don’t eat much of it because I simply don’t like the taste of it. I know, it’s crazy but a big juicy grilled steak as the ultimate meal just doesn’t appeal to me at all. However, I am aware that reducing my meat consumption means I need to get protein in other ways and lots of foods have protein, not just steaks and hamburgers. I do eat eggs and dairy and minimal chicken and seafood so that helps.
A general guideline is 46g of protein per day for the average woman. This is the recommended dietary allowance set by the USDA but keep in mind that it is a very general guideline. Everybody is different and most active women will need more protein than that per day. If you want to get detailed and track your exact protein intake, the formula to figure out what YOU need is:
Your weight divided by 2.2 then multiply that by .8 for not very active, 1.3 for active or pregnant, 1.8 for extremely active (ex. Training for a marathon).
If you choose to track these kinds of details, please keep in mind that it is all an inexact science and should be viewed as guidelines only and not absolutes. Make adjustments based on your personal goals and how you feel.
There are 20 different amino acids provided by protein sources. Nine are essential meaning we have to eat them because our body can’t make them. It has often been thought that plant-based proteins had to be combined in very specific ways in order to get complete proteins and ensure adequate intake of these essential amino acids. However, current research indicates that it is NOT necessary to combine plant based proteins at every meal. It’s enough to simply get all the amino acids over the course of the day or a couple days.
Ok, enough with the boring stats….
Here are some of my favorite plant based proteins. Let me know in the comments if you have some favorites I can add to my list. I’m always looking for new options.
Quinoa – This grain can be used very similarly to rice. I often fix it with some roasted vegetables or black beans and corn with a little taco seasoning.
Rice and beans – Black beans or lentils and your seasoning of choice.
Hummus and pita chips or veggies – This is one of my all-time favorite snacks.
Nuts and nut butters – Almonds are another one of my all-time favorite snacks along with almond butter.
Chia seeds – I mix these in my smoothies.
Green peas – These don’t have to be the mushy, overcooked side dish from your youth. Toss fresh or frozen peas into a salad or purée into a hummus with a little garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Spinach – I make all my salads with baby spinach and I also blend it into my smoothies.
Broccoli – Steamed or fresh in a salad.
Sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds – Blended into smoothies or sprinkled on salads.
Happy Exercising (and eating!)