Great Protein Alternatives If You Can’t Find Meat At The Grocery Store
Whether meat production facilities are closing due to COVID-19 outbreaks, or simply to keep employees safe and healthy, it seems many grocery stores throughout the U.S. are running out or low on meat. So what does that mean if your sole source of protein comes from meat? We decided to do the research and look at some of the best protein alternatives that you can stock up on at the store if you can’t find meat.
A Note On Processed Foods
Remember that the term processed foods includes a wide variety of products, many of which are more convenient and less expensive than other foods. Not all foods that undergo processing are considered unhealthy or harmful.
Learn more about different levels of food processing here.
Using supplements and fortified foods to bridge any nutritional gaps can also minimize your risk of experiencing ill effects from a vegan diet.
Well-planned vegan diets offer several health benefits but may also pose a few risks. To maximize benefits and minimize risks, choose whole plant foods whenever possible, and use supplements and fortified foods if needed.
Its All About The Protein Package
When we eat foods for protein, we also eat everything that comes alongside it: the different fats, fiber, sodium, and more. Its this protein package thats likely to make a difference for health.
The table below shows a sample of food packages sorted by protein content, alongside a range of components that come with it.
To call out a few examples:
- A 4-ounce broiled sirloin steak is a great source of proteinabout 33 grams worth. But it also delivers about 5 grams of saturated fat.
- A 4-ounce ham steak with 22 grams of protein has only 1.6 grams of saturated fat, but its loaded with 1,500 milligrams worth of sodium.
- 4 ounces of grilled sockeye salmon has about 30 grams of protein, naturally low in sodium, and contains just over 1 gram of saturated fat. Salmon and other fatty fish are also excellent sources of omega-3 fats, a type of fat thats especially good for the heart.
- A cup of cooked lentils provides about 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber, and it has virtually no saturated fat or sodium.
What about protein powders?
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How To Get Your Protein Needs
Your daily protein needs can easily be met by following the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The Guidelines group foods into 5 different food groups, each of which provide key nutrients.
The 2 main food groups that contribute to protein are the:
- lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans group
- milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives group.
As part of a healthy diet, the Guidelines recommend particular serves per day from each of the 5 food groups.
The human body cant store protein and will excrete any excess, so the most effective way of meeting your daily protein requirement is to eat small amounts at every meal.
Daily recommended serves of lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans and milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives for adults
|Person||Recommended average daily number of serves of lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans||Recommended average daily number of serves of milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives|
|Men aged 1950 years||3|
So, what is a serve? A standard serving size of lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans is one of:
A serve of milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives could include:
- 250 ml fresh, UHT long life, reconstituted powdered milk or buttermilk
- 120 ml evaporated milk
- 40 g hard cheese such as cheddar
- 120 g ricotta cheese.
Remember Not All Proteins Are Alike
While we did a nifty protein comparison, looking at these protein alternatives compared to meat, you should remember that not all proteins are the sameespecially the difference between complete and incomplete proteins.
“Not all foods that contain protein have equal amounts of protein,” says Paul. “Some foods primarily consist of protein, eggs and chicken, while other plant-based protein sources are comprised of protein and carbohydrates, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. The latter foods have fewer grams of protein per weight, and the protein is often incompletemeaning, it doesn’t contain all the essential amino acids that an animal-based protein would. When trying to meet protein needs with plant-based sources therefore, total calories may increase.”
Paul recommends that if you’re not getting an animal protein source at a certain meal, you should get “at least 2 sources of non-animal protein at your meal, nuts and beans, or lentils and quinoa.”
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A Good Option For People With Soy Allergies
Many plant-based meat substitutes, such as tofu, tempeh, and premade veggie burgers and hot dogs, are made from soy.
But soy is one of the top eight food allergens, along with milk, wheat, fish, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, and peanuts .
Therefore, it can be difficult for those who eat a plant-based diet but have a soy allergy or intolerance to find suitable meat alternatives.
Fortunately, seitan is an excellent soy-free option if you need to avoid the allergen. Just be sure to check the ingredient list on packaged seitan products to make sure no soy-containing ingredients have been added.
Seitan is made with wheat gluten, so its a good soy-free meat alternative for people with soy allergies or intolerances. Just double-check the ingredient list on premade seitan to be sure it doesnt contain soy products.
Top Vegetarian Protein Sources
If you’re eating a vegetarian or vegan diet or just trying to eat less meat and more plants, vegetarian protein sources make it easy to get your protein fill. Protein is a key nutrient for growing and maintaining muscles and keeping your skin and hair strong and healthy. It also helps keep you full.
Even though people wonder where vegetarians get their protein, it isn’t hard to meet the required amount on a vegetarian diet. According to the Dietary Guidelines, women need 46 grams of protein and men need 56 g of protein. However, the amount you need may vary depending on your activity level, age and more.
Yes, the list of vegetarian proteins extends way beyond tofu . Take a look at some of these high-protein vegetarian foods to add to your diet.
Recipe to Try:Homemade Plain Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is delicious added to smoothies, layered with fruit and granola as a parfait and used as a sour cream substitute on tacos or in dips. It also delivers calcium and gut-healthy probiotics. Choose plain yogurt over flavored varieties to save added sugar.
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Vegetarian Choices In The Protein Foods Group
Vegetarians get enough protein from this group as long as the variety and amounts of foods selected are adequate. Protein sources from the Protein Foods Group for vegetarians include eggs , beans, peas, and lentils, nuts and seeds , and soy products . For more information on beans, peas, and lentils, see Beans, Peas, and Lentils are Unique Foods.
Tips To Increase Your Protein Intake
To include more high-quality protein in your diet, try replacing processed carbs with high-quality protein. It can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke, and youll also feel full longer, which can help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Reduce the amount of processed carbohydrates you consumefrom foods such as pastries, cakes, pizza, cookies and chipsand replace them with fish, beans, nuts, seeds, peas, chicken, low-fat dairy, and soy and tofu products.
- Snack on nuts and seeds instead of chips, replace a baked dessert with Greek yogurt, or swap out slices of pizza for a grilled chicken breast and a side of beans.
Not a seafood fan? Make fish more palatable
If youre not a fan of seafood, but want to include more in your diet, there are ways to make fish more palatable.
- Always buy fresh fish. Some say tilapia, cod, or salmon have the least fishy taste.
- Disguise the taste by adding a flavorful sauce.
- Add shell fish or white fish, such as cod or tilapia, to a curry.
- Combine grilled fish with fresh salsa or your favorite chutney
- Mix canned salmon or tuna with low-fat mayonnaise and chopped onion for a tasty sandwich filling.
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Vegan Diets May Support Weight Goals Blood Pressure Heart Health And More
For starters, vegans tend to have lower body mass indexes than non-vegans, which may be associated with lower chronic disease risk in some populations .
In addition, studies suggest that vegan diets are more effective at helping people lose weight than many other diets, including the Mediterranean diet .
A vegan diet has also been linked to a lower risk of cancer. Whats more, it also appears to reduce pain from arthritis and may further reduce your likelihood of experiencing age-related cognitive decline .
Plant-based diets are also linked to several other health benefits, including lower blood pressure, better-regulated blood sugar levels, and a healthier heart .
Learn more about potential benefits of plant-based diets here.
Meatless Protein: 7 Great Sources Of Protein Other Than Meat
Protein is often associated with weight-lifting and building lean muscle, but a diet high in protein can also help us maintain a healthy weight, build and repair muscle tissue, and curb our appetite. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is considered a macronutrient which means we have to consume large amounts to stay healthy. According to the USDAs Recommended Dietary Allowances , we should take in between 10 to 35 percent of our daily calories from protein sources. Now, if you think the only way you can up your protein intake is by eating more steak and chicken, there are more protein sources in your diet other than meat.
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Struggling To Cook Healthy We’ll Help You Prep
Some say Americans get adequate or even too much protein others argue we could safely eat more than whats recommended .
If youre looking to up your protein intake, that doesn’t necessarily translate to eat more meat. Plus, youre likely aware of ways to add meat-based protein to your diet with beef, chicken, turkey, seafood, etc. Though animal-based protein delivers all of the essential amino acids we need, you can absolutely get sufficient protein from plant-based sources.
Why Do We Need Protein
Forget the protein shakes, powders and supplements, let’s get back to basics. Protein is made up of smaller units called amino acids and is essential for repairing damaged cells and building new ones. It’s essential in the building of tissues, muscles and bones, so it’s important to make sure your body has what it needs.
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Mediterranean Vs Vegan Diet: Which Is Better
The Mediterranean diet and vegan diet are two popular eating plans. Both have been well-studied for their many potential health benefits.
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating patterns of people in Mediterranean countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy. Its known for promoting a variety of foods that are both flavorful and nutritious.
Meanwhile, the vegan diet encourages a wide range of plant-based foods and is associated with both health and environmental benefits.
While there are some clear similarities between these two diet plans, you may also wonder how they compare.
This article takes a closer look at the Mediterranean and vegan diets to help you determine which is right for you, if either.
Mushrooms & Other Vegetables
Most vegetables contain a bit of protein, but mushrooms have almost twice the protein amount as other vegetables.
They also have a meaty texture and earthy taste that lends well to turning them into burgers or using them to replace meat in your favorite recipes.
Other sources of protein that are significantly high are kale, spinach, cauliflower, and broccoli. If you follow a vegan diet, try to add these into your meals often.
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Chickpeas And Most Varieties Of Beans
Beans such as kidney, black, pinto, and most other varieties are high in protein. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are another protein-rich legume.
Beans and chickpeas both have about 15 grams of protein per cooked cup .
Most beans, like most plant foods, do not provide complete protein. As previously stated, the exception is soybeans and foods made from them.
Pair beans with foods like grains and dairy to ensure youre getting all of the essential amino acids in your diet. Consuming beans with rice, hummus with pita wedges, or lentil soup with whole-grain bread or a dollop of yogurt will provide you with a complete amino-acid profile.
Protein: Essential For A Healthy Diet
The Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements.
To determine your RDA for protein, you can divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 and multiple by 0.8. For example, a 140-pound woman would require approximately 51 grams of protein per day.
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Vegan Diets May Lead To Nutritional Deficiencies Without Careful Planning
That said, its important to keep in mind that not all vegan diets will be equally beneficial.
While well-planned vegan diets made up of mostly minimally processed foods are considered beneficial for all stages of life, those including large amounts of ultra-processed plant foods are not (
Sprouting, fermenting, and cooking foods in cast-iron cookware can further enhance your bodys ability to absorb the nutrients contained in plant foods .
Minimizing your intake of processed plant foods, while increasing your intake of whole or minimally-processed ones can help reduce the risk of experiencing nutrient deficiencies.
Why Is It Important To Choose A Variety Of Choices From The Protein Foods Group
Foods in the Protein Foods Group including meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts, seeds, and soy products provide nutrients that are vital for the health and maintenance of your body. Many Americans meet the protein recommendations for meat, poultry, and eggs, but do not meet the recommendations for seafood or nuts, seeds, and soy products. Meeting the recommendations for these Protein Foods subgroups can help increase intake of important nutrients, including unsaturated fats, dietary fiber, and vitamin D and help to limit intake of sodium and saturated fats coming from processed meat and poultry.
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How Much Protein Do You Need To Eat Every Day
Protein can be found in almost every body part or tissue, including muscle, bone, skin, and hair. A chain of amino acids is the basic structure of a protein. Protein is required in your diet to assist your body in cell repair and cell formation.
During digestion, protein foods are broken down into components known as amino acids. The human body requires a variety of amino acids in sufficient quantities to maintain good health.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of the body weight or 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That works out to about 54 grams for a 150-pound adult.
The RDA is the amount of a nutrient that is required to meet your basic nutritional needs. In a sense, its the amount you need to avoid getting sick, rather than the amount youre supposed to eat every day. To calculate your daily protein intake, multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.36.
It is not necessary for most people to count or track how much protein they consume on a daily basis. Just make sure you have some with each meal.
If you find yourself feeling weak or fatigued on a regular basis, or if you get hungry soon after eating a meal, these could be signs that youre not getting enough.
Protein is not only about quantity but also about quality.
In general, animal protein provides all essential amino acids in the proper ratio for you to fully utilize them.
The Health Benefits Of Protein
Protein gives you the energy to get up and goand keep going. While too much protein can be harmful to people with kidney disease, diabetes, and some other conditions, eating the right amount of high-quality protein:
- Keeps your immune system functioning properly, maintains heart health and your respiratory system, and speeds recovery after exercise.
- Is vital to the growth and development of children and for maintaining health in your senior years.
- Can help reduce your risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Can help you think clearly and may improve recall.
- Can improve your mood and boost your resistance to stress, anxiety, and depression.
- May help you maintain a healthy weight by curbing appetite, making you feel full longer, and fueling you with extra energy for exercising.
As well as being imperative to feeling healthy and energetic, protein is also important to the way you look. Eating high-quality protein can help you maintain healthy skin, nails, and hair, build muscle, and maintain lean body mass while dieting.
While most people eating a Western diet get a sufficient quantity of protein each day, many of us are not getting the quality of protein we need.
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