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Best Vegetarian Protein Sources for a Healthier Diet

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Building muscle on a vegetarian diet seems a tough challenge. Even if you are not trying to build muscles, sticking to a high protein diet has many health benefits.

 

It is highly effective in maintaining your weight as it reduces appetite and hunger levels. To digest proteins, your body burns more calories that help you in losing fat.

 

For more: Top 60 Foods That Burn Belly Fat

 

Vegetarian protein sources are equally significant as eating chicken breasts and meat. In addition, they can be a great way to care for your health while achieving your fitness goals.

 

We bring you the best vegetarian protein sources for a healthier diet, and that can help you build muscle effectively.

 

Misconception That Vegetarians Can’t Build Muscle

In the sport of bodybuilding, the conventional belief that vegetarians can’t build muscles has ruled for years.

 

When it comes to building muscle, there is no such thing as ‘the effectiveness of a non-vegetarian diet over a vegetarian diet.’

 

Building a muscular physique only demands two elements;

  • Exercises stimulating the need for building muscles, as the muscles undergo hypertrophy.

  • A high-protein diet for recovery and building new muscle.

 

Yes, a chicken breast or beef steak will provide more protein per gram than vegetarian food. But you can never conclude that building muscles through a vegetarian diet is not possible.

 

How Much Protein Do You Need?

How Much Protein Do You Need

If you are hitting the gym regularly and are doing weight training exercises, then your aim should be to take around 0.5g - 0.8g per kg of your body weight.

 

In other words, if you weigh around 180lbs and are doing weight training 3-4 days a week, then you must take around 130 grams of protein per day.

 

Always remember that you should not take more protein than required. It will only end up disturbing your digestive system.

 

Types of Vegetarian Diets

People often think that a vegetarian diet does not include meat. It’s right up to some extent, but there are a total of 4 vegetarian diets:

 

  • Lacto-vegetarian: Exclude meat, fish, eggs, and poultry. All dairy products are included.

  • Ovo-vegetarian: Exclude meat, seafood, and dairy products. Eggs are included.

  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: Exclude meat and fish. Eggs and dairy products are included.

  • Vegan: Exclude meat, poultry, eggs, fish, dairy products, and all the foods that contain these products.

 

Vegetarian Protein Sources

We have found some of the best vegetarian protein sources for you. To get the best out of a vegetarian diet, you should choose a variety of foods including vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans.

 

Quinoa

Quinoa

Quinoa is a plant that is grown primarily for its edible seeds. The seeds are rich in protein, fiber, and dietary minerals.

 

A full cup of Quinoa (180) grams provides:

 

  • 8 grams of high-quality protein

  • 5 grams of dietary fiber that is more than white or brown rice

  • 39 grams of carbohydrates, which is good if you are on a caloric deficit diet.

  • 5 grams of fat.

 

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free so you don’t have to worry if you are gluten intolerant.

 

As it is high in fiber so it can help in reducing blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, give you a feeling of fullness which helps you in weight loss.

 

 

Amaranth

 Amaranth

Amaranth is an ancient plant found mostly in Central America. The leaves and seeds of this plant are edible.

 

A cup of Amaranth provides:

 

  • 9 grams of protein, which is the highest among all the grains.

  • 46 grams of carbohydrates

  • 4 grams of fat

 

Amaranth is also a gluten-free grain. It also has other health benefits such as reduced inflammation, lowering of cholesterol that helps in regulating blood pressure levels.

 

It’s also full of fiber, and vitamin C which is essential for the body’s healing process and maintaining collagen.

 

Greek Yogurt

 Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt differs from our regular yogurt due to the difference in nutrients. Although both have the same ingredients, Greek yogurt is healthier.

 

100 grams of Greek yogurt provides these nutrients:

 
  • 7-10 grams of protein, depending on the formulation.

  • 6 grams of carbohydrates

  • 4 grams of fat

 

Greek yogurt has almost twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt. Moreover, it has a very less amount of fat.

 

It provides healthy bacteria for the digestive system. It aids in the digestion of food and boosts your metabolism.

 

Incorporating Greek yogurt into your diet improves bone health because it has a high source of calcium. And, also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

 

Lentils

 Lentils

Lentil is an edible legume mostly produced in India and Canada. They have around 25% of protein content that makes them a good alternative to poultry.

 

100 grams of lentils contain:

 

  • 9 grams of protein

  • 20 grams of carbohydrates

  • 38 grams of fat

  • 5 grams of fiber

 

They are a healthy substitute for meat because of their high content of protein and dietary fiber.

 

Lentils also contain potassium folate and iron; it is good for cardiovascular health and also supports the formation of red blood cells.

 

Eating lentils instead of red meat is healthier for your heart. It can also help to curb your appetite for a long period.

 

Tempeh

 Tempeh

Tempeh is overshadowed by tofu because they both are processed soy products. As soybeans have high protein content, we can realize that tempeh also has a high protein value.

 

100 grams of tempeh contain:

 

  • 20 grams of protein

  • 5 grams of carbohydrates

  • 5 grams of fat

 

Traditionally, Tempeh is Indonesian food. It has different recipes which can introduce a variety of flavors to it.

 

It is the best choice of bodybuilders for gaining muscle mass because of the high protein value.

 

Tempeh is good for your heart as it regulates the cholesterol levels in the body.  It also improves insulin resistance, helping in preventing diabetes.

 

If you are allergic to soya then you should avoid eating tempeh.

 

Buckwheat

 Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a grain similar to other cereals. It is a highly nutritious whole grain that contains rich nutrients. It’s an excellent source of protein, fiber, and energy.

 

100 grams of buckwheat contain:

 

  • 5 grams of protein

  • 27 grams of carbohydrates

  • 5 grams fat

 

Due to its benefits, buckwheat is also known as a superfood. It boosts the immune system, having a strong immune system is very important during COVID-19.

 

It has a very low glycemic index so it helps in reducing blood sugar levels. Buckwheat is also a gluten-free grain which makes it a good choice for people with celiac disease.

 

Pistachios

 Pistachios

Pistachio is a dry fruit, mostly produced in Central and Middle East. They have a high protein content and are enriched with good fats.

 

100 grams of pistachios contain:

 

  • 21 grams of protein

  • 27 grams of carbohydrates

  • 45 grams of fat

  • 11 grams of fiber

 

They are enriched with healthy fats, they are important for losing weight as they help in the burning of fat cells especially from the belly.

 

They can also act as your pocket snacks as they can be consumed directly. Pistachios are also full of antioxidants that help in preventing cancer.

 

Cottage Cheese

 Cottage Cheese

If you can include dairy products in your vegetarian diet then cottage cheese is one of the best protein sources.

 

100 grams of cottage cheese contain:

 

  • 11 grams of protein

  • 5 grams of carbohydrates

  • 5 grams of fat

 

Processed cheese might make you fat because of the high number of calories, cottage cheese has low calories so it helps regulate weight.

 

Because of the high content and low-calorie content, cottage cheese is being used widely by athletes.

 

Eggs

 Eggs

Eggs are the favorite food of every bodybuilder because of the rich protein content in a single egg. They are also enriched with all eight amino acids that help in building muscle mass and strength.

 

One large egg contains:

 

  • 6-7 grams of high-quality protein

  • 5 grams of fat

  • 75 grams of calories

 

They are a rich source of vitamins and essentials minerals. Eggs can also be classified under the category of superfoods.

 

Eggs can improve your cholesterol profile and decrease the risk of heart diseases. They also help in maintaining the health of your eyes and brain.

 

The best part is that they can be carried anywhere easily, just boil them, pack them in a bag and you can eat them whenever you want.

 

Takeaway

If you want to build muscle by sticking to a vegetarian diet then don’ worry. You can easily try out a variety of protein alternatives to meat.

 

Choosing vegetarian substitutes for meat could help you in staying healthy and safe from heart-related diseases.

 

For achieving fast results, aim to eat five to six small meals per day that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.

 

These are some of the best vegetarian protein sources to build muscle according to research. Include them in your diet and you will be surprised to see the results.