How to Get Enough Protein on a Raw Vegan Diet
Protein is essential for good health. You need it to build muscle, make hair, blood, connective tissue, antibodies, enzymes, and more. We all need protein to be healthy. This is probably the biggest concern of anyone considering a raw vegan diet. How do I get enough protein? The health and fitness industries are largely to thank for this. They have been touting the importance of ultra-high protein diets for decades. It is a commonly believed myth that you need to consume large amounts of protein in order to be healthy and build muscle. Well, we know from experience that you can get plenty of muscle building protein from a plant based diet. In fact, many people that eat animal products and highly processed foods are getting too much protein. We wanted to dispel the myth that going raw vegan means giving up protein and muscle. So, we have compiled a list of the best plant based protein sources that will keep you strong and healthy.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
It has been suggested that with the traditional Western diet, the average American consumes about double the protein her or his body needs. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. In a sense, it’s the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick — not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day. An easy way for you to determine your RDA for protein is to multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36. So, for a 40 year old female who is 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighing 120 pounds and living a moderately active lifestyle, she would need only 44 grams of protein to meet her RDA. This is not to say that increasing your protein intake to meet your active lifestyle is bad. Muscles need protein in order to grow and maintain their mass. Perhaps, more important than simply increasing your protein intake is to increase the quality of protein.
Raw Vegan Protein Sources
Many people are surprised to find out that fruit actually contains protein. In fact, many fruits contain between 4-8% protein. Also, fruit is a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids. High protein fruits include guavas, avocados, apricots, kiwifruit, blackberries, oranges, bananas, cantaloupe, raspberries, and peaches.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Not only are Leafy greens very nutrient dense they are also a great source of protein. 1 cup of spinach contains about 5 grams of protein. Popeye had the right idea! Leafy greens make a great addition to any smoothie and of course salads!
Nuts make a great heart-healthy snack. They are also packed with protein! A 1 ounce serving of peanuts contains 7 grams of protein. Pepitas have 9 grams of protein in only a 1 ounce serving! A bonus, they even have anti-cancer properties. A recent study showed that eating more nuts could even protect against cancer.
Not only are seeds are rich in protein they are also packed with amino acids and omega 3 fatty acids. Pumpkin seeds are high in iron and magnesium and contain more protein than chia or flax seeds, an incredible 5 grams per ounce. Seeds make a delicious and healthy addition to salads!
Algae is truly a phenomenal superfood. Not only is algae packed with nutrition and protein, it is also a master detoxifier. It removes heavy metals and toxins and strengthens the immune system. Chlorella and Spirulina are the most popular with Spirulina containing the most protein, 70% full protein by biomass. Spirulina is also one of the few plant sources of essential vitamin B12. Algae can also be purchased as a powder and supplement.
Beans are a rich source of protein and vitamins. Sprouting the beans actually increases the bioavailability of the protein. The most common bean sprouts come from mung beans and soybeans. One cup of sprouted mung beans contains about 3.2 grams of protein. Not only are beans sprouts packed with protein but they are also high in fiber and B vitamins, and deliver a boost of vitamins C and K.
This protein packed superfruit contains up to 12 grams of protein in just one cup! They also contain all 8 amino acids making them great for building muscle. These little berries are also a rich source of vitamin A, one cup contains 300% of your daily recommended intake. Goji berries make a great addition to salads, cereal, yogurt or oatmeal.
Raw Vegan Protein Powder
Raw vegan protein powder is a great source of protein for anyone looking to increase their daily intake. One (31 gram) serving contains about 22 grams of protein and all essential amino acids. Fortunately, there are many options of vegan protein powders on the market. Raw vegan protein powder is especially great after workouts to enhance the recovery process and also contains a high percentage of essential amino acids.
Essential Amino Acids
Meeting your daily recommended protein level shouldn’t be a problem, but getting all essential amino acids might be difficult. The two most commonly missed amino acids are lysine and methionine. These two amino acids are found in low amounts in all plant-sourced foods. Fortunately, there are some raw vegan friendly foods that contain lysine and methionine, such as Brazil nuts (methionine) and sprouted fenugreek seeds (lysine).
As you can see there are many raw vegan options when it comes to high protein rich foods. Meeting your daily recommended protein intake is not only possible, it can be easy too. Once you learn what whole foods are high in protein, you can start to incorporate them into your meals. It is important to do your research to make sure the foods you eat are supplying your body with enough protein and all essential amino acids.
What’s your favorite raw vegan protein source? Let us know!