6 Sources of Protein from Non-Meat Products to Fuel Your Fitness
Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or just wanting to cut down on the amount of saturated fats from eating meat, non-meat substitutes for protein are plentiful. Not just for body builders and bulkers, protein is an essential part of our diet, especially when it comes to fitness and improvement. When we exercise, we are effectively breaking our muscle fibres apart which then require repairs by the body. Protein is the crux of these repairs, plus the maintenance and growth of muscle.
A higher protein consumption as part of a balanced diet is proven to give us stronger and longer-lasting sensations of fullness. This stops us snacking on instantly satisfying but ultimately ineffective junk foods such as crisps and chocolate bars. As a personal trainer, I often give nutritional advice to my clients. When we think about protein, most of us are programmed to think about meat, but I want to share seven of the best non-meat proteins that will keep you full and fuel your day.
Go Nuts for Nuts (and Seeds!)
Naturally packed with well-balanced protein, fibre, and fat, nuts are a perfect snack for at your desk or on-the-go. Similarly seeds like pumpkin, chai, and sunflower are an easy way to pack protein while you’re out and about. Some people will steer clear of nuts because of their relatively high fat content. However, their composition of unsaturated fats are not only essential in our diet, but also help to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol (Low Density Lipoproteins) that in excess cause heart disease.
Each nut comes with its own body-boosting credentials. Almonds, for example are calcium and vitamin E rich improving skin appearance and bone-strengthening; Brazil nuts are a good source of the mineral selenium, ideal for people with low thyroid function; Cashews contribute iron, zinc and magnesium and have a particularly high level of protein.
An Eggcellent Source of Protein
They are a fantastic recovery food after a full workout or exercise class. They don’t need to be eaten raw or taken on 6 at a time. One medium egg contains around 6g of protein in a form that the body can easily digest. Eggs are considered a high-quality protein which means that as well as being highly digestible, they contain all the essential amino acids that your body requires to repair muscles and maintain muscle mass.
An omelette is a great way to get your protein count up.
Dear Dairy – Milk, Cheese, and Yogurt
Whether you have milk, cheese, or yogurt, dairy is a fantastic source of high-quality protein and of calcium. A combination of whey and casein proteins, these dairy products cover both fast and slow release of energy and synthesis of protein when absorbed by the body. The protein content alongside calcium content is associated with better bone strength. For non-vegans, dairy products are an easy way to ensure good protein consumption.
You’re a Bit Quinoa
This grain seems to be popping up in shops and on the menu of every trendy café and restaurant. They are a ‘complete protein’ which is a label referring to amino acids - the foundations of what makes up a protein. Of twenty amino acids, the body cannot synthesise nine. These nine amino acids are called ‘essential amino acids’. In order to qualify as a complete protein, the food source must contain all nine of the essential amino acids in roughly equal amounts. Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich plant foods and is high in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Get keen for quinoa and consider adding quinoa to your lunch so that your post-work-work-out is ready fuelled.
Soy, Where Have You Bean?
Beans are a sort of super food when it comes to vegan and vegetarian diets. They are a great source of protein, calcium, zinc, and fibre amongst an abundance of other components that rightly claim to boost our body in one way or another. With so many varieties of beans including kidney beans, black beans, and butter beans, your dinner options are limitless when it comes to beans.
Soy is source of complete protein. Containing all of the essential amino acids, it is very popular and advised in a vegan diet. It can be used to create butter, milk, cheese, sauces, and cereals. It can help to lower bad cholesterol in our blood – benefiting not only our high physical activity, but also our general health.
Let’s Talk About Lentils
Lentils are protein-packed legumes with high fibre content and complex carbohydrates making them an excellent source of slow burning energy. They are a great ally to keeping up our energy levels, whether you’re working away in the office, running between meetings, or having a sweat-inducing session with your personal trainer. Lentils are also incredibly versatile, soaking up the flavour of whatever soup, stew, or salad dressing. Gram-for-gram, lentils have more protein than beef, so if you want to cut down on your meat consumption, they are a great way to keep protein levels propped up.
A balanced diet with a good measure of complete proteins is just one part of your journey to a full and fit life. To find out how Personal Training Didsbury can help you achieve your optimum fitness level, or to get your body confidence back on track, get in touch.