I use to eat, on average, roughly 8ish meals of meat per week (if you average 3 meals a day over 7 days) – and that varied depending on my days – sometimes I eat 2 meals a day, others my intake will be with 5-7 smaller meals. In a traditional sense that would mean out of those 21 meals per week, I ate meat 38% of the time. This varied from chicken to beef to turkey. I figured aside from my lentils and beans and a few other sources I regularly eat, that I would compile a list of various protein-rich sources that are non-meat related and I wanted to do this for two reasons.
- Celebrate! My wife and I have cut down our meat intake to 1-2 meals per week (Less than 5% a week). We set a goal and we stuck with it. We are now over 20 months in. We are not fully vegetarian and probably (most probably) never will be, however, one large step to potentially being healthier, and eating more consciously.
- Share my knowledge with all of you, so that this may benefit you as well.
That being said, let’s get down to the facts – and this post is purely about alternatives and nothing else, so here are 10 surprising sources of protein. Whether you are vegetarian or from time to time enjoy throwing in a slab of meat on the grill, the list below contains 10 various protein-rich sources that are plant-based and on my list of alternatives to meat.
Note: I mention 1 cup which is a custom American/British unit of measurement. For us Europeans, it would be a coffee cup (1/4 of a liter).
1 cup of guava is roughly 4.20 grams of protein.
This tropical fruit is probably one you are not eating, at least not regularly. In a cup, you will find 4 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber including three times the vitamin C of a large orange! Guavas are also rich in lycopene a phytonutrient that is linked to the reduction of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The perfect guava is determined if you can easily slide through the skin with your fingernail. To prepare guava, just wash it off and eat. The skin and even seeds are edible. They make a great addition to fruit salads, etc.
1 cup of cooked pasta contains roughly 10 grams of protein.
I just had to add it to my list considering that pasta is one of my favorite dishes, albeit cutting down on my carbohydrates as well. They are known for being rich in complex carbohydrates and providing energy to muscles, but many people also forget that pasta is a good source of protein. I love Barilla if I go for grain-based pasta and these bad boys have a whopping 10 grams of protein per cup. They also contain omega 3 fatty acids and a few grams of fiber.
1 cup is roughly 8 grams of protein.
My wife initially introduced me to quinoa a few years ago and I fell in love with it. It looks like a grain but isn’t. It actually belongs to the same group of vegetables as spinach and swiss chard. It has fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. A half-cup of cooked quinoa is probably the most protein-rich whole carb you can eat. It also provides all essential amino acids.
1 cup is roughly 3 grams.
This vegetable provides folic acid and important B vitamin as well as vitamin C, iron, and ca. 2 grams of fiber per cup.
1 cup is roughly 2.5 grams of protein.
I like seaweed, despite not liking all types of sushi. Seaweed offers key nutrients including magnesium and manganese. A cup of raw seaweed (wakame type) has a bit more than 2 grams of protein.
1 cup contains roughly 2.8 grams of protein.
This member of the cabbage family is packed with nutrients and is low in calories. It is known as the “queen of greens” because of this. Kale has fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and antioxidants.
Dried Chia Seeds
2 Teaspoons are roughly 3 grams of protein.
Chia seeds contain omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids making them quite known especially among those of us who are health conscious. They are also a good source of protein adding roughly 3 grams to any meal. They have a mild, nutty flavor and you can toss them into just about anything.
1 large potato is roughly 6.5 grams of protein.
Potatoes contain not just carbs but protein as well. A medium potato contains more vitamin C than a tomato and more potassium than a banana – did you know that? Eating the skin of a baked potato is also good because it contains fiber and B vitamins.
Half a cup is roughly 5.9 grams of protein.
Garbanzo beans as they are also known as are a Middle Eastern legume that provides nearly 6 grams of protein per half-cup! They are also loaded with fiber and apparently help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The most famous dish out of chickpeas is probably hummus however you can use these guy’s in a multitude of ways.
28 grams contain roughly 6 grams of protein.
With 6 grams of protein per 28 grams of pistachios, these nuts contain more protein per serving than most other tree nuts. They also are good in fiber. Eat them in portions. A handful of pistachios will help satisfy the craving for something savory and crunchy.
It does not always have to be meat – but again, everyone is different and if you prefer so, then please do so. This is something I have learned over the years, and albeit still loving a good steak and burger, incorporating protein-rich alternative sources has also contributed to my overall well-being. Therefore I encourage you to try it out as well. Set a goal for a 1 week. Sit down, plan your meals and see if you can cut down to 2 meals a in that week.
So whether you are a vegetarian or even vegan, or someone like myself focused on eating less meat then this should hopefully help you know where to go in your local supermarket so that you can add alternate protein sources to your diet.
My question to you then is, how much protein do you consume per day? Do you track it? What other sources of protein do you have? Comment below or reach out on twitter!
Make it happen.