6 Vegetarian Protein Tips for Weight Loss
It’s no secret that protein is one of the three critical macronutrients everyone needs to survive. It’s also a fact that protein can be animal based or plant based (i.e., vegetarian protein) and that there are many delicious, nutritious, and environmentally friendly choices in the latter category that can also help you with your weight loss efforts.
Why protein helps with weight loss
Research has shown that protein helps increase energy expenditure; in other words, it helps boost the amount of calories burned. In a study of overweight/obese men, for example, those who consumed 25 percent of their daily calories in protein versus those who consumed only 14 percent experienced greater feelings of fullness, less desire to eat late at night, and were less preoccupied with thoughts of food.
In another study, participants were assigned to eat a diet consisting of either 15 percent protein, 35 percent fat, and 50 percent carbs, or 30 percent protein, 20 percent fat, and 50 percent carbs. The researchers found that compared with the lower intake of protein, when the participants followed the higher protein diet there was:
- A marked increase in satiety (feeling full)
- Reduction in energy (calorie) intake by a mean of 441 calories per day
- A mean reduction in weight of 4.9 kg (nearly 11 lbs)
- A mean reduction in fat mass of 3.7 kg (about 8 lbs)
Vegetarian protein tips
Are you ready to try these vegetarian protein tips? Following these guidelines may help you drop those excess pounds and while cutting back on saturated fats (found in meat and dairy foods) and contributing to a healthier environment as well.
1. Include vegetable protein at every meal. By having protein at every meal, you can help control your hunger, feel full longer, and enjoy a wide variety of protein options throughout the day.
2. Mix up your protein. Too often, individuals who are unfamiliar with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle assume that tofu and beans are the only protein sources, yet that’s far from the truth. Although these two foods are great ways to get vegetarian protein, there are numerous others as well.
Two sources that are very high in protein are tempeh (a fermented soy product with 15 grams of protein in 3 oz) and seitan (aka, wheat meat or wheat gluten, with 21 grams in just 1 oz). Naturally, anyone who is gluten intolerant will need to forego the latter option.
Other excellent to good vegetarian protein sources include:
- Soy milk/beverage (about 8 g per cup)
- Artichokes (4 g per ½ cup)
- Green peas (4 g per ½ cup)
- Lentils (9 g per ½ cup plus fiber)
- Black beans (8 g per ½ cup plus fiber)
- Quinoa (complete protein grain with 9 g per cup)
- Amaranth (another complete protein grain with 8 g per cup)
- Hemp seeds (13 g per 3 tablespoons; great cereal, yogurt, and salad toppers)
- Chia seeds (5 g per 2 tablespoons; also a great topper)
- Spinach (5 g per cup)
- Asparagus (4 g per cup)
- Broccoli (4 g per cup)
- Spirulina (4 g per tablespoon; add to smoothies)
- Tahini (8 g in 2 tablespoons)
- Nut butters (8 g in 2 tablespoons of peanut butter; 7 g in almond butter)
- Wide variety of plant-based alternative meat and cheese products in the form of burgers, hot dogs, nuggets, ground “beef,” sliced and grated “cheeses”
3. Include protein with fiber at least twice a day. Fiber is another substances that help you feel full and less likely to overeat. Vegetarian protein foods that also are a good source of fiber include beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, amaranth, and quinoa.
4. Don’t forget the complete protein grains. Both amaranth and quinoa are grain-like foods that also provide complete protein. Try them in place of rice, noodles, and other grains. Amaranth and quinoa also make great breakfast cereals!
5. Sow your seeds. Hemp, chia, flax, sesame, and other seeds are great vegetarian protein sources that are also great sources of healthy fats. Seeds are a healthy addition to salads, soups, cereals, yogurt, and smoothies. Although they are high in calories, just a few tablespoons go a long way!
6. Be bold. Don’t limit yourself to just a few vegetarian protein options. If you’re unsure about how to enjoy foods that are unfamiliar to you, try them at vegetarian restaurants, take a vegetarian cooking class, hook up with a vegetarian group in your town, and talk with other vegetarians about cooking. You can learn a lot by sharing with others.
Protein is an important part of any weight loss plan, and vegetarian protein sources can be an integral part of your daily eating program. Are you ready to take the vegetarian protein challenge?
Also Read: Fake meat and real change
Does a vegetarian diet promote weight loss?
What should we eat
9 tips on switching to a vegetarian diet and healthy weight loss
Vegetarian weight loss foods: Portobello mushrooms
Vegetarian weight loss foods: avocados
Johnston CS et al. Postprandial thermogenesis is increased 100% on a high-protein, low-fat diet versus a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in healthy, young women. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2002 Feb; 21(1): 55-61
Nutritiondata.self.com. Wheat gluten
Weigle DS et al. A high-protein diet induces sustained reduction sin appetite, ad libitum calorie intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005 Jul; 82(1): 41-48