With the recommended daily intake of protein at 0.8 grams per kilo of body weight you can see why people may be worrying about where they might get this amount from while at the sme time cutting back their meat consumption. I get asked a lot where they can get their protein from. And it’s tough, if you’ve been used to your chicken breast and beef mince for the last decade trying to reduce your meat consumption and keep your protein intake healthy or up there for muscle gain/performance etc is something that you really need to consider. Where can you get enough protein to directly substitute the meat you’ve been chowing down on.
Let’s make its simple; If I weigh 68 kilos I should be eating around 55 grams of protein and from meat products this would be easy…
Here’s a quick reminder/lesson on what I’m chatting on about
-An average sized chicken breast (around 130 grams) contains 35-38 grams of protein
-One 175g rump steak contains 60-65 grams of protein
-A pork chop (170g) contains around 28 grams of protein
-Salmon fillet weighing 120 grams contain 25 grams of protein
-One 100 gram beef burger contains 20 grams of protein
So as you can see all these foods contain decent amount of protein but what if you’ve decided that you want to cut down on all the meat you consume. I won’t lie, for a while I was eating eggs for breakfast and then both lunch and dinner every day was based around a meat product of some kind. I decided about a year ago to make the change and reduce the amount I was eating. So I started with some research.
-Chick peas contain around 9 grams of protein per half a can (200 gram serving)
-A 200 gram serving of red lentils will pump you up with around 14 grams of protein
-Black beans contain around 18 grams of protein per 200 gram serving
-1 cup of edamame beans packs a whopping 18 grams of protein and let’s be honest they’re delicious!
- Chia seeds also pack some decent protein; 6 grams of protein for every two table spoons
So you can already see that some maths and serious thought had to come into play. Now I’m not super serious about calories and macros but as I do go to the gym and enjoy lifting weights and gaining muscle this was something I thought I’d better look into.
There is also protein in nuts and seeds and with adding these to my diet I was able to roughly… well most days reach the 50 gram mark. I tracked my protein intake for about a week when I first made the change to see what it was like. And to be honest, it wasn’t hard to hit the target. Sprinkling chia seeds on my cereal and peanut butter on toast was lovely! I added falafel to my weekly menu and although I thought I would be hungry, I’m pleasantly surprised and feel mostly satiated. There’s always room for chocolate.
(All numbers from fatsecrets app. It’s a great and simple way to get to know what you’re eating and become more aware of how many calories and macros you’re consuming in your favourite foods.)
This is what an average day looks like for me. On this day I made up 53 grams of protein.
Two slices of wholemeal toast with peanut butter and chia seeds
A giant mug of coffee with oat milk
Banana and a handful of pumpkin seeds, cashews or almonds
Avocado and hummus and baby leaf spinach salad, sprinkled with sunflower seeds, hemp seeds
Falafel, pitta and salad with raw broccoli (left over hummus if any)
So I've learned that it’s totally doable and I’ve actually really enjoyed getting creative with some recipes and foods I would otherwise have not tried. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had some pretty shocking mishaps but got there with the recipe in the end.