Protein !!!! Every time someone advises you on anything relating to fitness, you would notice that the word “protein” always pops up. Protein plays a major role in muscle building and recovery and is widely found in chicken, meat, and eggs. But wait, that doesn’t sound very fair to the vegetarians! If you are a vegetarian, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Especially if you are from India, you must be confused about what vegetarian sources to pick to fulfill your body’s daily protein requirement. This article will help you identify a wide variety of vegetarian protein sources from which you can pick to add to your daily nutrition.
- Why is protein so important?
- 8 critical reasons why you need protein in your diet/nutrition
- The science behind how protein is important
- How much protein should I eat in a day?
- protein requirement chart
- The best source of protein for vegetarians in India
- High protein Indian food chart
- A protein-rich vegetarian ending
Why is protein so important?
Protein is one of the most important parts of a healthy diet/nutrition. Scientifically speaking, they are made up of chemical building blocks known as amino acids. These amino acids are what our body uses to build and repair muscles and bones.
8 critical reasons why you need protein in your diet/nutrition
- To help develop and grow the body
- Muscle and bone development
- Forming a protective layer for the skin, hair, and nails
- Managing the wear and tear of cells
- Building immunity
- Regulating metabolic activities like oesterogen, progesterone, testosterone, and digestive enzymes
- Helps circulate oxygen in the body
- Helps improve healthy vision
The science behind how protein is important
If you are above 30 years of age and wondering “ I don’t need to build anymore, my body has stopped growing anyways”, then you might need to reconsider that.
Simply put, your muscles need to break to rebuild and get stronger.
When we exercise, we push our muscle fibers to the extent of breaking. This process teaches our muscles (with the help of our brain) that we need to get stronger to get through the work that we just did so that it doesn’t break again the next time.
As a result of this, the muscles utilize the power of protein to repair their broken parts and build bigger, so that it is ready to support the same amount of work next time.
This is the simple science behind how our muscles get bigger or leaner when we do strength training (or any time of training that targets a specific muscle group) and have a good protein source every day.
Keep in mind, that your muscle builds according to the exercise routine and other factors that you choose.
So if you are doing a lot of strength training with heavy weights, your muscles will get bigger and stronger. At the same time, if you are doing the same strength training, but with lighter weights and more counts, then your muscles get leaner and stronger.
Before we move ahead, also keep in mind that this is not just for strength training but also for endurance training programs like Zumba and HIIT as well.
How much protein should I eat in a day?
Now that we know exactly why protein is so important to our body, Let’s find out exactly how much protein you need to have on a daily basis.
Based on a report by the dietary reference intake, a sedentary adult should have at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight. A sedentary adult refers to a lifestyle that involves mostly lying down or sitting while doing an activity such as socializing, desk jobs, video games, and so on.
If you are an active adult who does work involving moving around or lifting a lot of objects here and there, then you can aim for 1g of protein per kilogram body weight.
All these being said, there are different other factors that can affect the amount of protein your body requires.
For ease, I have added it in the chart below
The best source of protein for vegetarians in India
Vegetarian protein sources are a bit hard to identify as most vegetables are rich in other vitamins and minerals rather than in protein. Hence here is a list of the top handpicked vegetable, pulses, and cereals that you can add to your vegetarian diet/nutrition.
Vegetarian protein options
Protein content: 5g of protein per 100gm of green peas
Green peas are a very popular and widely accessible vegetable. They are seeds that come from a legume plant and have a lot of nutrients and antioxidants. They are tummy-filling and an excellent choice for protein for vegetarians. Eating protein can increase the levels of certain hormones in your body that reduce appetite.
They support healthy blood sugar control, benefits digestion, can help prevent chronic health conditions such as heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes.
According to the USDA, a 1/2-cup serving of green peas contains:
- Calories: 62
- Carbs: 11 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Vitamin A: 34% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 24% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 13% of the RDI
- Thiamine: 15% of the RDI
- Folate: 12% of the RDI
- Manganese: 11% of the RDI
- Iron: 7% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 6% of the RDI
Protein content: 4.4g of protein per 100gm of quinoa
Quinua is a very popular food source and is now easily accessible in almost all supermarkets in India. Not only is quinoa nutrient-dense, but it may offer health benefits, too.
They are highly packed with nutrients, contain anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory plant compounds. High in fiber, gluten-free contain antinutrients such as saponins, tannins, and phytic acid.
According to the USDA, 1 cup of quinua contains:
- Calories: 222
- Protein: 8 grams
- Fat: 3.55 grams
- Carbohydrates: 39 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Folate: 19% of the daily value (DV)
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 8% of the DV
- Copper: 39% of the DV
- Iron: 15% of the DV
- Zinc: 18% of the DV
- Manganese: 51% of the DV
- Magnesium: 28% of the DV
- Potassium: 7% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 22% of the DV
Protein content: 3.3g of protein per 100gm of soy milk
Soy milk is made from soybeans and filtered water. They are completely cholesterol-free as they come from plants and are low in saturated fat. They are also lactose-free.
Soy milk is a good source of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium.
According to the USDA, 1 cup of soy milk contains:
- 80 to 100 calories
- 4 grams of carbohydrates (unsweetened)
- 4 grams of fat
- 7 grams of protein
Protein content: 17g of protein per 100gm of chia seeds
Most people underestimate the power of these tiny little seeds. Chia seeds are high in antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.
They are also very beneficial in fat loss and are a must-have if you are on that journey.
They are also loaded with antioxidants, can lower the risk of heart diseases, contain bone nutrients, and can reduce blood sugar levels.
According to the USDA, 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of chia seeds contains:
- Calories: 138
- Protein: 4.7 grams
- Fat: 8.7 grams
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): 5 grams
- Carbs: 11.9 grams
- Fiber: 9.8 grams
- Calcium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Iron: 12% of the DV
- Magnesium: 23% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 20% of the DV
- Zinc: 12% of the DV
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 15% of the DV
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 16% of the DV
Protein content: 2.9g of protein per 100gm of spinach
Spinach is one of the most widely accessible vegetables and is widely considered to be a superfood. It is nutrient-rich and is very beneficial for your skin, hair, and bone health. They also have protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals.
Raw spinach also supports your immune system and keeps you safe from bacteria and viruses that cause diseases.
According to the USDA, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of spinach contains:
- Calories: 23
- Water: 91%
- Protein: 2.9 grams
- Carbs: 3.6 grams
- Sugar: 0.4 grams
- Fiber: 2.2 grams
- Fat: 0.4 grams
Protein content: 2.8g of protein per 100gm of broccoli
This tree-shaped cute little vegetable is very high in nutrients that include fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium. It is also one of the best clean sources of proteins for vegetarians in India.
Broccoli is mainly known to support eye health and hormonal balance.
According to the USDA, 1 cup (91 grams) of broccoli contains:
- Calories: 31
- Water: 89%
- Protein: 2.5 grams
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Sugar: 1.5 grams
- Fiber: 2.4 grams
- Fat: 0.4 grams
Soya & Tofu
Protein content: 52g of protein per 100gm of Soya & Tofu
Soya and tofu are widely known to be one of the best plant-based alternatives for meat and dairy in the world.
They are high in fiber and keep your colon healthy, as well as aid in brain and memory health.
According to the USDA, soya and tofu contain:
- Calories: 144
- Protein: 17 grams
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Fat: 9 grams
- Calcium: 53% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Manganese: 51% of the DV
- Copper: 42% of the DV
- Selenium: 32% of the DV
- Vitamin A: 18% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 15% of the DV
- Iron: 15% of the DV
- Magnesium: 14% of the DV
- Zinc: 14% of the DV
Protein content: 26g of protein per 100gm of peanuts
Peanuts are one of the best sources of vitamins and nutrients and are rich in protein and fat.
Studies show that peanuts can even be useful for weight loss and have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
According to the USDA, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of peanuts contains:
- Calories: 567
- Water: 7%
- Protein: 25.8 grams
- Carbs: 16.1 grams
- Sugar: 4.7 grams
- Fiber: 8.5 grams
- Fat: 49.2 grams
- Saturated: 6.28 grams
- Monounsaturated: 24.43 grams
- Polyunsaturated: 15.56 grams
- Omega-3: 0 grams
- Omega-6: 15.56 grams
- Trans: 0 grams
Protein content: 21g of protein per 100gm of sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are made from the head of the flower of the sunflower plant. They have a white and tender texture with a nutty flavor and high nutritional value. They have a wide variety of health benefits ranging from reducing inflammation, improving heart health, supporting the immune system, and boosting energy levels.
They are also high in vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, iron, copper, selenium, manganese, zinc, and potassium
Sunflower seed nutrition per serving
According to the USDA, ¼ cup of dry roasted sunflower seeds without salt contains:
- Calories: 207
- Protein: 5.8 grams
- Fat: 19 grams
- Carbohydrates: 7 grams
- Fiber: 3.9 grams
Top 10 tips for healthy eating – Click here to learn more
High protein Indian food chart
vegan protein sources chart
A protein-rich vegetarian ending
It is very hard as a vegetarian to choose the right source of protein to be part of your daily protein needs. Vegan plant-based protein supplements are mostly and widely used to complete the protein requirement by many vegans. But for those who are not interested in supplements or just couldn’t spare the amount for it can definitely choose their needed sources from the listed food items.
As mentioned before, your protein is important in recovering your muscles and so it is one of the main ingredients in achieving your fitness goals.
- Better health – Protein – https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/protein
- SCL Health – How Much Protein Is Simply Too Much? – https://www.sclhealth.org/blog/2019/07/how-much-protein-is-simply-too-much/
- webMD – health benefits of sunflower seeds – https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-sunflower-seeds
- Healthline : Why Green Peas are Healthy and Nutritious : https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/green-peas-are-healthy
- Healthline : 8 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Quinoa : https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-health-benefits-quinoa
- Healthline: Comparing Milks: Almond, Dairy, Soy, Rice, and Coconut : https://www.healthline.com/health/milk-almond-cow-soy-rice#Milk-and-milk-alternatives
- Healthline : 7 Enticing Health Benefits of Chia Seeds : https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds
- Healthlinje: Peanuts 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/peanuts