Move Over Meat! Here’s 18 Sources of Protein from Plants

Plant Protein Sources
By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

“Protein can only be found in animal based sources, right?” Nope! Plants contain protein too! This question is one of the most common questions I get from both Rebooters and clients regarding where to find protein in plant-based sources—simply, it’s everywhere! Protein is found in animal-based sources (roughly 20-25 grams per 3 oz) but it’s also found in plant-based sources too in ranging amounts; therefore, almost everything we eat (including grains and vegetables) contribute to total amount of protein we need every day.

If you’re someone who aims to get most of their protein from plants, it can sometimes be overwhelming to think of the places to find it and also to know how much you’ll be getting. So to help you out, here are some of my top picks for plant-based protein sources:

  1. Edamame – 8 g per ½ cup
  2. Tempeh – 18 g per 3.5 oz cooked
  3. Cashews – 5 g per ¼ cup (18 pieces)
  4. Lentils – 9 g per ½ cup
  5. Seitan – 18 g per 3 oz cooked
  6. Spinach – 5 g per 1 cup cooked
  7. Green peas – 8 g per 1 cup
  8. Quinoa – 8 g per 1 cup cooked
  9. Almonds – 6 g per ¼ cup serving
  10. Chickpeas – 7 g per ½ cup boiled
  11. Tofu – 15-16 g per ½ cup
  12. Broccoli – 4 g per 1 cup (chopped)
  13. Hemp seeds – 10 g per 3 Tablespoons
  14. Chia seeds – 5 g per 2 Tablespoons
  15. Seeds: Sunflower, sesame – 7 g per ¼ cup

Plant-based protein powders: These are great sources of protein too and can be added to smoothies, juices, and even to oatmeal! You want to make sure you purchase an unflavored, unsweetened, plain protein to avoid getting extra additives and chemicals. Here’s a few to keep an eye out for:

  1. Sprouted rice protein: 17 g per 1 scoop (21 g)
  2. Hemp hearts or protein: 10-15 g per 3 Tablespoons
  3. Pea protein: 24 g per 1 scoop

The Reboot with Joe Protein Powder is a great option and was designed to blend well in juices but it’s also great for smoothies. blends nicely with juices, check it out here.

What about complementary proteins?

For some time it’s been thought that in order to create a complete protein source in our bodies (that means all 9 essential amino acids are present in one meal), complimentary proteins (foods with a few of those 9 amino acids with another food containing the missing amino acids) needed to be consumed within the same meal; however, we’re finding that’s not the case. In fact, they really only have to be consumed within the same day or so (~24-48 hours) and that alone can help to ensure complete protein source.

The Take-Home

If you’re someone who eats mostly plant-based sources of protein, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting enough to properly fuel your body. You want to make sure you’re conscious of where you’re getting your protein and that you’re including dishes and food items that have some of these richer sources of plant-based protein on a regular basis.

Here are a few tips for adding more plant-based protein sources into your everyday:

  • Swap in quinoa for brown rice
  • Have a snack of almonds or other nuts or nut-butter
  • Add a scoop of plant-based protein powder to your juice or smoothie
  • Choose edmame as a snack
  • Make a dark-green juice
  • Add hemp seeds to oatmeal or to a smoothie

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Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

Isabel is a Registered Dietitian, wellness expert and fitness coach. Isabel has her own nutrition and wellness practice based in New York City, Isabel Smith Nutrition, but she works with clients and corporations both nationwide and worldwide in a variety of areas including skin health, weight loss, gastrointestinal issues and allergies, sports nutrition, general wellness and more. As a Guided Reboot coach, Isabel has helped hundreds juice their way to better health. When she isn’t helping clients achieve optimal nutrition and wellness, she can be found trying and creating new juices and making other healthy recipes, running, cooking, spinning, practicing yoga, and enjoying time with her two Yorkshire terriers. Isabel is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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