Protein gets a lot of attention, especially in a plant-based diet where the issue of complete and incomplete protein comes into play, along with protein per amount of weight, which is something else to consider. For instance, we don’t need to combine foods as we once thought to form a complete protein (such as beans and rice). That protein myth died years ago, thankfully when we found out our bodies are capable of using all sources of amino acids to form complete proteins.
Not Just Grams … What to Consider When Measuring Protein
It’s also important to consider that amounts in grams aren’t the only thing that matters when measuring protein in a food. You should also consider what percentage of total calories protein makes up in a food. For instance, beef and animal foods are high in calories and though they contain a good size amount of protein, per amount of calories, beef and animal proteins (even fish) are higher in cholesterol-forming saturated animal fats, where most of their calories come from. Plant-based foods on the other hand, have fewer calories, a variety of sources of amino acids that form complete proteins in the body and per weight, their percentage of protein in the amount of total calories is relatively high.
Some plant-based foods are higher in protein percentage than others, however, so making sure to include a variety of plant-based foods in your diet is important for achieving the amount of protein your body needs. Beef contains 7 grams of protein per ounce for about 75 calories, so let’s compare some better plant-based options that don’t come with the health risks beef and animal proteins do.
Here are five foods with more protein per gram than beef that also come with a higher percentage of protein per amount of calories:
Per gram, Spirulina is 65% protein, the highest amount of protein percentage of all foods. In just 1 teaspoon, you’ll get 4 grams of protein, which is unheard of for all other foods. Spirulina is also a great source of iron, providing 80 % of your daily needs in just 1 teaspoon and at only 30 calories. You can add this blue green algae to your smoothies to mask the taste and know you’re getting in a nice dose of B vitamins, protein, iron and vital trace minerals. Since it’s also alkalizing, spirulina also reduces inflammation, unlike animal foods that contribute to it.
Yes, the humble Spinach contains 51 % protein (about 5 grams per cup at only 30 calories). It’s also a good source of iron and Vitamin C. This much-loved green is also a great source of folate, an important vitamin for women that contributes to strength, brain function and reproductive health. Adding a couple cups of spinach to your smoothie, salad, wrap, soup, or any other way, is an easy way to sneak in 10 grams of protein without the need for a supplement powder whatsoever.
Hemp is one of the best, easy-to-use foods that’s rich in all essential fatty acids and all 20 amino acids. Per ounce (about 2 tablespoons) has 10 grams of protein, is high in fibre and most of its calories come from beneficial proteins and Omega fatty acids. Unlike animal-based proteins and sources of fat, hemp is very alkalizing to the body and also boosts the mood and energy thanks to high amounts of magnesium. It can also increase metabolism due to it containing 45 % of your daily iron requirements in just one ounce. You can also use hemp protein, another fantastic way to get this whole food into your diet. We enjoy it in smoothies, raw treats, but you can even stir it into oatmeal and bake with it in place of flour if you like. Although, it is better to consume hemp raw (not cooked), as heat destroys the fatty acids.
Per calorie, broccoli has more protein than beef, which about 4.5 grams per 30 calories. Broccoli is also packed with amino acids, fibre, Vitamin B6 to improve your mood and is one of the best vegetables linked to fighting cancer.
Almonds and almond butter both provide 7 grams of protein in one ounce, along with heart-healthy fats and Vitamin E. They’re also a good source of calcium and provide high doses of beneficial magnesium.
Peanut butter is another high source of protein, with 8 grams per two tablespoons of peanut butter. While higher in calories than beef per ounce, these nut butters are rich in amino acids per ounce and also recommended as a good source of plant-based protein.
Plant-Based, High Protein Smoothie
Combine all these foods into a smoothie for a crazy, high-protein meal that your body will love and one that will shock you in how great it tastes! You’ll never know it contains good-for-you veggies!
Servings : 1 Large or 2 Smaller
1 Cup baby Spinach
4 Frozen Broccoli Florets (gives it a surprisingly great thick texture and the other ingredients hide the taste)
1/2 Cup Frozen Organic Mixed Berries or Blueberries
1 Tablespoon Cacao Powder (also a great source of protein and more iron than beef)
2-3 Tablespoons Hemptons Shelled Hemp Seeds
1 Tablespoon raw Almond Butter or Peanut Butter
1 Cup Non-Dairy Milk like Almond, Soy, Hemp or Rice Milk
Sweetener of choice – to taste (Stevia, 1/2 A Banana, A Date, A Fig, Raw Honey Or Maple Syrup)
Add all the ingredients to your blender, blend together, decant and enjoy!