There are lots of ways for you to get protein without meat!
Some people choose not to eat meat. Other people may not have access to meat products in their local stores. No matter what reason for going meatless, have no fear: there are plenty of ways for you to get the daily protein that your body needs that don’t involve meat!
Why do I need protein?
Protein is one of the three major types of nutrients that our bodies need to grow and function. Protein can be used by the body to produce energy, but it is also needed by the body to build muscle and to keep our body running in tip-top shape. It is important to make sure that you are getting all of the protein your body needs every day, while at the same time, not getting too much. Unlike carbs and fat, your body cannot store protein. If you eat more protein than your body needs, it will use it for energy to get rid of the extra. This can make your kidneys and liver work harder than needed.
How much protein do I need every day?
You only need to eat 0.56 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. For example, a person who weighs 180 pounds only needs to eat 65 grams of protein every day, and a 150 pound person only needs 54 grams of protein per day. Balancing where you are getting your calories from is an important part of managing your blood sugar. About half of your daily calories should come from carbs, about 30% should come from fats, and the last 20% of your calories should come from protein. Some studies have shown that plant based proteins may help you to control your blood sugars more than protein that comes from animal sources.
What other foods (besides meat) contain protein?
|FOOD GROUP||PORTION SIZE||PROTEIN||CARBS||FAT|
|Starches||Usually 1 oz or 1/2 cup||3||15||0-1|
|Beans, Lentils, Pulses, Soy, and Tofu||1/2 cup cooked, drained||6||15||0-1|
|Vegetables||1 cup raw, 1/2 cup cooked||2||5||0|
|Nuts, Almonds, Peanuts, Pistachios, etc||1 oz||6||6||14|
|Milk, Cheese||1 cup, 1 oz||8||12||0-8|
|Meat, Chicken, Fish||1 oz cooked||8||0||3-8|
|Fats, Salad Dressing||1 tsp, 1 tbsp||0||0||5|
|Fruit||About 4 oz||0||15||0|
What if I don’t like beans or these other protein-containing foods?
If you do not like the taste of a food, then you won’t want to eat it. It is important to play around with different recipes so you can find a way to make healthy foods taste good. Adding spices or different sauces to your beans or lentils can make them taste yummy while also giving you the protein you need. Madhu Gadia is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a Certified Diabetes Educator that has a website and a YouTube channel where she shares traditional Indian recipes that are healthy and tasty!
How can I get started?
Changing your diet can be overwhelming. Start small and make little changes first. Add beans or lentils to a salad or eat a handful of nuts as a snack. Pick one day of the week to try to eat plant-based proteins, like having “Meatless Mondays.” Start with things that you are familiar with and then slowly begin to try new things. Little changes that you like are more likely to stick than big changes that you don’t really like. Always talk to your doctor before making any large diet changes, especially if you are taking medications that cause low blood sugars.
The most important thing is to make pleasant lifestyle choices that will last for a lifetime!
When it comes to food, taste trumps everything else. But there are lots of ways to make healthy food tasty! Use the guidance in this blog post to make sure you are getting the protein you need. The important thing is to make pleasant lifestyle choices that will last a lifetime!
Disclaimer Statement: This is for educational purposes only and not intended as medical advice. For individual medical advice, contact your healthcare practitioner.