Society enrollment is now open! | Click to join the Society

Plant-based Protein Q&A, part I

Advice, Bare Basics, Nutrition Topics

plant-based-protein-qa

Sources of plant-based protein is one of the most common areas many of my vegan/vegetarian clients ask about; whether it’s consuming enough or what types. Today, I’m here to tackle some of the most common questions asked related to protein in a plant-based diet. I also want to leave this an open ended blog post for you all to ask your own “Q’s” that you want to hear my “A” to! Here’s part 1 of my Q&A series, with more to come.

What is a plant-based lifestyle?

A plant-based lifestyle can encompass a wide variety of diets and foods eaten, but have one thing in common amongst all of these diets. The foundation of the diet/lifestyle is rooted in whole, fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, and other foods than come from plants. Being plant-based doesn’t confine you to titles of vegan, vegetarian, raw, etc.; they can be a template from which you build your own diet from- breaking it down, it means a diet based in plants. You all know I’m not a fan of labeling eating style and creating an entire identity around being “vegan”, “raw”, “paleo”, etc.; it creates a dogma a too strict of guidelines to fit into. I truly believe all of us can take what we like from certain diets and leave behind what doesn’t nourish our individual bodies, to create our own perfect template of what works for us!

Here are a couple of the most common plant-based lifestyles. Note all of these diets will have similarities such as eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains/gluten free grains, healthy fats, plenty of water, etc.

  1. lacto-ovo vegetarianism = eggs + dairy products
  2.  lacto-vegetarianism = dairy products – no eggs
  3. ovo-vegeterianism = egg products – no dairy
  4. pesca-vegetarianism = fish – no other animal flesh ( may include dairy/eggs)
  5. vegan (abstains from all animal flesh foods and products including animal based products, i.e. honey, dairy, eggs, fish. This can also be extended into lifestyle such as avoiding leather, shoes, or other materials made from animals)

 Q

Is it really true that vegetarians and vegans don’t consume enough protein?

A

No…and yes. First let’s start off with the first part of this answer, no. Vegetarian diets and even vegan diets which are a bit more restrictive, can contain more than enough protein for your body to thrive and overall maintain a healthy lifestyle when thought out and planned properly. One of the biggest problems I encounter with my clients who practice plant-based diets is the lack of overall protein in their diet including plant-based sources. Getting adequate amounts of protein is extremely important as protein is the building block of our cells, muscles, tissues, and so much more. Protein plays many roles in the human body, which are responsible for a myriad of functions some of them include, roles in transporting/storage, as a structural component (collagen, muscle tissues, etc.), messengers (hormones, etc.), enzymes, and antibodies.

Protein should be high priority in all diets, but especially in plant-based diets. Making sure you have enough protein throughout the day is key to long-term success. My tip is to consciously include a vegetarian protein source at every meal- this will help round out your overall intake of amino acids throughout the day (which again are the building blocks of protein). Check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position paper on vegetarian diets to help give you more insight on the benefits, but also nutrients of concern (that often get overlooked).

Q

How much protein do I need to eat daily?

A

Great question, with a many answers. This greatly depends on the individuals’ lifestyle, goals, digestion, diet practiced, etc. In general (very general terms), 0.8g of protein per kg of your bodyweight is a RDA/guideline recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I would actually go a bit higher as vegetarian and vegan proteins are digested a bit differently and are not as bioavailable as animal proteins. For example, a 140lb woman would need: 140lbs / 2.2 (conversion from lbs. to kg) = 64kg. 64kg x 0.8g protein = 51g of protein per day. Let’s say this female was eating 2000 calories/day, protein would make up roughly 10% of her intake- this is fairly low in my opinion. Again I highly recommend meeting with a qualified practitioner or (me) to figure out what your ideal protein intake is for your goals.

Q

What are the best sources of protein for vegetarians?

A

There are plenty of great sources of plant-based proteins for vegans and vegetarians. First, remember the different types of vegetarianism? Well, the proteins consumed will be dictated by which “lifestyle” someone is practicing. Also note, in plant-based lifestyles many proteins also contain carbohydrates or healthy fats, for this reason I call these either (protein + carbohydrate) or (protein + healthy fat). This should be accounted for when you’re thinking about your overall intake of carbohydrates and healthy fats throughout the day. Also, it makes for an easy balanced meal!

Plant-based protein sources

Starchy proteins (protein + carbohydrate)

Fatty proteins (protein + healthy fats)

Mostly protein

  • Spirulina
  • Nutritional yeast (contains little carbohydrate)
  • Quality protein powder supplements: brown rice, pea, sprouted rice, hemp protein, some of my favorites include Vega and Sunwarrior.
  • Vegetarian food products (including vegetarian burgers, soy hot dogs, “cheese” etc.).
    • These should be used in limited quantities, as they’re highly processed and typically very high in sodium. Focus on whole food sources as much as possible.
  • Eggs & yogurts, etc.
    • Addition of eggs for ovo- and lacto-ovo, addition of dairy products for those practicing lacto- or lacto-ovo, and addition of fish and shellfish for those practicing pesca-.

Also note, many vegetables, carbohydrates, and some fruits naturally contain trace amounts of protein as well (2-5g per serving depending on the vegetable)- these shouldn’t be “reliable” sources of protein unless you’re eating incredibly large amounts of these, which I also wouldn’t recommend due to the extremely high fiber content overtime.

Q

What about combining proteins to make it complete, is this still true?

A

No. Combining vegetarian proteins to make a “complete protein” or “complementary protein” is a theory of the past. We now know that our bodies store amounts of amino acids (i.e. the building blocks of protein) in our body and can be utilized to “make up” for any limiting amino acid in a vegetarian food. It is important however to have a wide variety of vegetarian proteins and foods rich in nutrients throughout the entire day. On the other hand, some foods such as vitamin C rich foods do help your body absorb the plant-based iron sources (non-heme iron)- for example, think of eating red bell peppers with beans or an orange with nuts/seeds.

Q

Do I have to eat protein powder all day long?

A

Possibly. If you’re an athlete, active, or engaging in fitness training it may be a smart idea to “supplement” your diet with good quality vegetarian based proteins to make up for your demanding needs. Notice the word supplement– this is not meant to be the bulk of your protein intake in your diet, protein powders are used to supplement (i.e. make up the deficit) the diet overall.

Even if you’re not very active, protein powder still may be a great option to incorporate into your diet to make sure you’re meeting your needs. There are great quality brands out there that can easily be mixed in with water, almond milk, coconut milk, smoothies, etc. Vega, Sunwarrior, Garden of Life Raw Protein, Plant Fusion, Perfect Fit, are some of my current favorites I enjoy using.

Protein-rich Nutrition Stripped recipes to try! 

  • Cinnamon Tahini Protein Smoothie
  • Pumped up Plant-protein Power Smoothie
  • Spirulina Energy Globes
  • Baked Eggs with Garlic Kale and Sun-dried Tomatoes
  • Nourish Bowl
  • Nourishing Muesli
  • Simply and Savory Oat Pancakes
  • Kale Hemp Tabbouleh
  • Maple Tempeh with Herbed Quinoa
  • Peanut Tempeh Stir-fry

 

I hope that answers some of your initial questions about plant-based protein. Let me know how you like these Q&A’s, I’d love to do more to answer your questions. Also, what other “nutrition” related topics would you like me to start covering on Nutrition Stripped? I want to hear from you, comment below! Also, if you’re wondering how much protein you should be eating especially as a new plant-based dieter, check out my services and we’ll chat about it!

xx McKel

p.s. stay tuned later this week for a plant-based protein rich snack AND a protein powder review of my favorites!

Share your thoughts

  • Vanessa

    Hi McKel,
    Great, comprehensive article, thank you! I’d love to hear more about ‘complete’ proteins vs ‘incomplete’ and how to get complete proteins from a vegetarian/vegan diet. And how important it is to consume complete proteins/which ones are the most important etc. Sorry if that’s a long-winded question requiring a long-winded answer!
    Thanks for your advice and help.
    Vanessa

  • Shawn

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the new “high fat, low carb” and Paleo diet crazes. It’s really confusing with all the conflicting nutrition advice out there. On one side grains/legumes/carbs are demonized and on the other they’re healthy and important foods in our diets. Are we truly not evolved to eat certain types of foods? Is heavy reliance on animal products not dangerous as well?

    The other topic would be soy. Is it healthy or not? So confusing ….

    Thanks so much! Look forward to your answers 🙂

    • Hi Shawn,
      Great questions- I’ll try to incorporate these into another blog post/topic! If you personally have questions about how those foods fit with your lifestyle or any specifics I’d be more than happy to chat with you one-on-one from my services page.

      • I have the exact same question as Shawn! I am currently trying to research how/what to eat, food combining, HFLC/paleo, etc. I am very confused on what to eat all of the sudden by conflicting arguments and am left confused. Can you help!?

        • Hi Jane,
          I will answer some of these questions in a part 2! Also, have you thought about having a quick Q&A session with me? I would also love to speak with you to answer some of your more individualized questions. Simply email me or make a reservation and let’s get started – mh

  • Timmy

    Loved VEGA before they switched to VEGA one.

    • They still have Vega sport, which is my favorite! I’ll be posting Friday a protein review you might enjoy!

  • Misty

    Thank you for this post! I think protein is so important. I didn’t think I needed it until pregnancy and nursing. My body was begging me for protein! I ditched dairy a few years ago and will never go back! I love that you don’t label diets! Everyone is so different! Hoping to meet with you soon! My husband says maybe for my Birthday! 😉 thank you!!!

  • So great to have this laid out like this. Next time someone asks me where I get my protein from, I’ll send them here instead of bursting out into laughter like I did! I thought it was a bit of an old wives tale that people asked that…. 🙂

  • Betsy

    First of all truly amazing site!!
    It’s quite different to get information on plant-based nutrition from someone with actual medical education rather than just food blogs however good they may be.
    Now about the article: Could you please elaborate on the subject of complete/complementary protein? As I understand trying to form complete protein in one meal has been a common principle among vegetarians for decades. Is that only recently proven to be false? Should this newest development be trusted? You know how medical researches say one thing one day only to say the opposite the next (saturated fat hello?)
    On the other hand I often read that protein unlike carbs or fat CANNOT be stored in the body, that’s why you have to distribute protein intake throughout the day; doesn’t that contradict what you are saying that “We now know that our bodies store amino acids”? If however they can be stored what time span are we talking about? 24 hours? Maybe you could present a model plan of one day (but if you do please do not include protein powders, the hard way).
    By the way a suggestion for future article: What are your thoughts on food pairing for max absorption of nutrients. For example protein should not be eaten with starches: then nuts is a no no with grains?
    Thanks a lot and sorry for the long post

    • Hi Betsy,
      Thank you so much for your kind words and support of my blog- I truly appreciate that! I’ll elaborate much more on this in part 2- but yes, you do not need to eat “complete proteins” at each meal (it can be trusted). These are all great topics to discuss in future posts!

  • Great post! So many people are protein obsessed and seem to eat, sleep, and breathe protein when they eat. As a vegetarian working in health and fitness I am constantly asked about my diet and protein. So many people are so surprised by the number of plant based protein options (both natural whole foods and powders). Love your site!

  • As a non-vegetarian, this was a really interesting post for me. I never actually knew that people used to assume you could combine proteins to ‘make it complete’. Really interesting read, thanks for writing this, McKel!

  • Hannah Hudson

    First off, I just want to thank you for all of your blog posts! They are so informative and helpful! One thing im confused on though is how to consider fatty proteins and starchy proteins in my breakdown of fats, carbs, and protein servings in a day. If you were to eat 2 tbsp of a nut butter would you count that towards a protein serving for your day or a fat serving? Or both?

    Thank you so much!

    • McKel Hill

      Great question! I count a nut butter as both fat and protein- it’s not fully protein and not fully fat 😉

cookbook-footer

See what wellness looks like #IRL

follow @nutritionstripped

Looking for something? Let's find it!

Terms & Conditions

Photography, recipe, and content Policy

Content
All content is copyright of Nutrition Stripped and shall not be copied, replicated, or duplicated. Please be courteous, respectful, and refrain from using it as your own. You may share a recipe or image only by contacting, referring, or directly linking back to Nutrition Stripped.

Photography and Recipe Policy 
We’re extremely flattered when asked to publish NS photography on a website or blog. We ask that if you’d like to share a recipe, photography, or content, you must get permission from the team first. Please keep in mind that all written content, photography, recipes, and general writing are copyrighted materials which have been a labor of love in the production of and have worked very hard to produce it.

Nutrition Stripped policy is as follows if you want to do the following:
To promote a recipe or photograph from my site You may post one photo as long as you give a direct link back to the post where you found the photograph/material including in the content a mention of McKel Hill, MS, RD from Nutrition Stripped. You may not republish the recipe itself. To use my photography for promotion other than sharing my original works you must request permission beforehand, a simple email will do. You may not republish my recipe or multiple recipes without direct permission. We occasionally allow other websites to post my recipes; which is decided at my discretion on a case-by-case basis and mostly with those we have an agreement with for example with my blog writing contributions. Please uphold the standards of the U.S. copyright laws for recipes and mycopyright policy.

 

Nutrition Stripped © 2016

Privacy Policy

Personal identification information
We may collect personal identification information from Users in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, when Users visit our site, subscribe to the newsletter, and in connection with other activities, services, features or resources we make available on our Site. Users may be asked for, as appropriate, name, email address. Users may, however, visit our Site anonymously. We will collect personal identification information from Users only if they voluntarily submit such information to us. Users can always refuse to supply personally identification information, except that it may prevent them from engaging in certain Site related activities.

Non-personal identification information
We may collect non-personal identification information about Users whenever they interact with our Site. Non-personal identification information may include the browser name, the type of computer and technical information about Users means of connection to our Site, such as the operating system and the Internet service providers utilized and other similar information.

Web browser cookies
Our Site may use “cookies” to enhance User experience. User’s web browser places cookies on their hard drive for record-keeping purposes and sometimes to track information about them. User may choose to set their web browser to refuse cookies, or to alert you when cookies are being sent. If they do so, note that some parts of the Site may not function properly.

How we use collected information
Nutrition Stripped may collect and use Users personal information for the following purposes: To improve customer service, information you provide helps us respond to your customer service requests and support needs more efficiently. To personalize user experience, we may use information in the aggregate to understand how our Users as a group use the services and resources provided on our Site. To improve our Site, we may use feedback you provide to improve our products and services. To run a promotion, contest, survey or other Site feature. To send Users information they agreed to receive about topics we think will be of interest to them. To send periodic emails, we may use the email address to respond to their inquiries, questions, and/or other requests. If User decides to opt-in to our mailing list, they will receive emails that may include company news, updates, related product or service information, etc. If at any time the User would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.

How we protect your information
We adopt appropriate data collection, storage and processing practices and security measures to protect against unauthorized access, alteration, disclosure or destruction of your personal information, username, password, transaction information and data stored on our Site. Sensitive and private data exchange between the Site and its Users happens over a SSL secured communication channel and is encrypted and protected with digital signatures.

Sharing your personal information
We do not sell, trade, or rent Users personal identification information to others. We may share generic aggregated demographic information not linked to any personal identification information regarding visitors and users with our business partners, trusted affiliates and advertisers for the purposes outlined above. We may use third party service providers to help us operate our business and the Site or administer activities on our behalf, such as sending out newsletters or surveys. We may share your information with these third parties for those limited purposes provided that you have given us your permission.

Changes to this privacy policy
Nutrition Stripped has the discretion to update this privacy policy at any time. When we do, we will revise the updated date at the bottom of this page and send you an email. We encourage Users to frequently check this page for any changes to stay informed about how we are helping to protect the personal information we collect. You acknowledge and agree that it is your responsibility to review this privacy policy periodically and become aware of modifications.

Third party links
Occasionally, at our discretion, we may include or offer third party products or services on our website. These companies may use non-personally identifiable information (e.g. click stream information, browser type, time and date, subject of advertisements clicked or scrolled over) during your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services likely to be of greater interest to you.  These companies typically use a cookie or third party web beacon to collect this information.  To learn more about this behavioral advertising practice visit the NAI at http://www.networkadvertising.org. To opt-out of this type of advertising, you can visit http://www.aboutads.info/choices.

By using this Site, you signify your acceptance of this policy and terms of service. If you do not agree to this policy, please do not use our Site. Your continued use of the Site following the posting of changes to this policy will be deemed your acceptance of those changes. Privacy policy created by http://www.generateprivacypolicy.com last modified on 7/31/13

We allow third party companies to serve ads and/or collect certain anonymous information when you visit our Web site.  These companies may use non-personally identifiable information (e.g. click stream information, browser type, time and date, subject of advertisements clicked or scrolled over) during your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services likely to be of greater interest to you.  These companies typically use a cookie or third party web beacon to collect this information.  To learn more about this behavioral advertising practice visit the NAI at http://www.networkadvertising.org. To opt-out of this type of advertising, you can visit http://www.aboutads.info/choices.

Disclosure Policy

Nutrition Stripped works with brands all over the globe that we can stand behind and that we know you’ll love too! Companies and brands will send me products to try or develop recipes with. Whenever I review or refer to a product that was provided to me, I will make it clear in the post, otherwise it is a product that I have purchased and will not necessarily mention in that post. 

Disclosure Policy
This policy is valid starting from 16 June 2013. This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Nutrition Stripped. For questions about this blog, please contact Support [at] nutritirionstripped [dot] com.

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

While this blog may be compensated for a review of a product or service, such compensation will never have an effect on the honest opinion that I present on this blog. If we claim or appear to be experts on a certain topic or product or service area, we will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. This blog does contain content which might present a conflict of interest. This content will always be identified.

Questions? Please e-mail Support [at] nutritionstripped [dot] com or refer to the FTC’s ruling on blogger disclosure: FTC Rules on Sponsored Conversations

Release of Liability
Any item promoted/advertised/sponsored on this site that you choose to partake in is your decision and I am not liable for any problems that arise including, but not limited to: not receiving products, receiving broken or damaged goods, seeing an item you bought go on sale after you buy it, technical difficulties with sites that I link to. Furthermore, any information you submit to any external site is at your own risk.

Affiliate Discretion Notice

Nutrition Stripped is a participant of several affiliate programs which is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking directly to sources that Nutrition Stripped genuinely likes. If you click on any of those links, which are known as “affiliate links”, and make a purchase within a certain time frame, I’ll get a small commission. The commission is paid by the third parties, not by you! Affiliate links and resources earned help support my efforts here at Nutrition Stripped, thank you!

Need help? Support

T-shirt Size Chart

Size US Sizes UK Sizes AUS Sizes
Small (S) 2-4 32-34 6-8
Medium (M) 6-10 36-40 9-13
Large (L) 10-14 40-44 13-17

DON’T SEE YOUR SIZE LISTED?

No worries, just shoot us a quick email at [email protected] with SHOP in the subject and let us know what size you’re looking for and we’ll set you up!

Avocado Love t-shirt is made with super soft blend of 65% poly 35% viscose; it’s lightweight, flowy, hangs off the body and runs true to size. The boxy crop tee doesn’t show the tummy, just slightly when you raise your hands.

Matcha Matcha Matcha t-shirt is made with a durable 100% cotton blend. It runs a bit on the larger side, but shrinks an entire size due to the cotton.

Kale Made Me Do It t-shirt is made with super soft blend of 65% poly 35% viscose; it’s lightweight, flowy, hangs off the body and runs true to size. The sleeves are purposefully a little loose, hanging off the shoulders giving room to move.

Good Food Good Vibes t-shirt is made with super soft blend of 65% poly 35% viscose; it’s lightweight, flowy, hangs off the body and runs true to size. The sleeves have a deep scoop showing your side body more than a normal tank, great to show off a touch of your sports bra, lacy bra, or any tank underneath.

Each t-shirt is individually hand screen printed here in Nashville, TN by our friends Grand Palace Printing. Each design is printed multiple times to ensure quality color. A lot of love goes into making every single t-shirt, here’s how to take care of it when it gets to you:

+ Wash cold
+ Line dry or lay flat to dry to retain best color and size

Follow me on Snapchat

Hello. Add your message here.
Enrollment is closing soon! CLICK TO JOIN THE SOCIETY

Send this to friend