Because you can only eat so much tofu...
Did you know... I grew up ALMOST ENTIRELY vegetarian?
You might not have guessed, based on the way I eat now. But, my whole family is Indian Vegetarian. South-Indian style, to be specific. I am half Telugu and half Tamil.
As an Indian vegetarian most of your food is carbs on carbs, with very little protein.
If you are working out and trying to tone up, you will need to make sure you are eating enough protein to shed fat while retaining and building muscle.
I know how tough it can be to meet your protein needs when you're vegetarian. So, I've compiled this list of some of my favorite vegetarian protein sources for you!
BUT BEFORE I GO INTO THIS - two pointS:
There are two important points all vegetarians need to understand:
1. Quinoa does not contain that much protein. It is mostly carbs with a little protein as an accessory. The reason why people say it's a good source of protein is because the protein it does contain is a complete protein: This means it has all the amino acids our body cannot produce on our own. However, it doesn't actually contain THAT much protein. It's still mostly carbs. You'd have to eat a TON of quinoa to have it count as your main protein source, and in that process you'd also be consuming an obscene amount of calories from carbs.... which is not going to be ideal for weight loss.
2. Peanut butter is not a very good source of protein. It is mostly fat. Stop putting peanut butter in your smoothies for protein, because you are likely adding hundreds of extra calories which is impeding your weight loss.... without actually adding that much protein.
Read your nutrition labels!
As a vegetarian, most of your protein is going to come along with a good amount of carbs and fats. If you're trying to lose weight and tone up, it will be important to know how to balance your day and nutrition so you get enough protein without overloading on calories from carbs or fats so you actually lose weight.
ALRIGHT - HERE THEY ARE!
With those two things out of the way, here are some fun vegetarian protein ideas that are not tofu, beans, or weird things like Spirulina that no one actually eats:
1. Protein chips - THESE ARE AMAZING!
2. Protein cereal
It's 2018 and they are putting protein in Cheerios now. You have zero excuses for meeting your protein needs. Try this Special K Protein for your breakfast, and get a protein boost in the morning to keep you full:
3. Banza Lentil Pasta
You can buy lentil pasta at almost all large grocery stores in the pasta aisle these days, or in the health food aisle. It honestly tastes the same as normal pasta--I cannot even tell the difference!
Banza is a great brand. I get mine at Safeway in the pasta aisle. I also like the kind at Trader Joe's.
4. Gardein meatless ground
This stuff is only 80 calories per serving and 12g of protein! Toss it into stir-frys, curries, and more to add some heart and protein to your meal.
5. Greek yogurt & cottage cheese
You probably already know this but I'm going to remind you... Greek Yogurt has a ton of protein in it. If you make Indian food and eat a lot of raitas, etc you can EASILY swap normal yogurt for Greek and add a ton of protein right there.
I like to eat the plain kind, 0%, and sweeten it with Stevia instead of buying the sugary fruit ones.
Sometimes I eat my yogurt savory and add salt + chili powder + black pepper. Delicious!
6. Protein powdeR
If you're serious about getting protein without any carbs or fat... protein powder is the way to go. The "cleanest" brands I found that are actually quite tasty are:
Nuzest Clean Lean Protein: My FAVORITE, plant-based protein. The chocolate flavor is DELICIOUS.
Quest: Whey-based protein. The Cookies n' Creme flavor is SO. GOOD.
Orgain: Another delicious plant-based option. I don’t drink it as often anymore because I have other brands, but I know people who swear by it.
Aloha: You can get this at Target. Never tried it but many of my friends love it!
7. Egg white muffins
These are one of my favorite recipes. If you eat eggs you have got to try these. They are so easy, and super portable as breakfast or a snack. They keep well in the fridge for 4-5 days and are great for meal prep.
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What are YOUR favorite protein-dense vegetarian foods? Leave a comment or send me a DM on Instagram with your suggestions!