When we think of protein, we first think of animal sources such as meat and eggs. Though animal sources are found to be rich in protein, many plant sources contain more protein per calorie as well, making them ideal for weight loss. A balanced diet with a low glycemic index and high protein content is found to be helpful for the prevention and management of obesity.
Multiple veggies, fruits, seeds, legumes, nuts, staple foods, algae, and tofu are high in protein and can help you lose body fat.1 2 Let’s look into 5 of these best plant sources that are high in protein and helpful in reducing body weight.
5 Plant Protein Sources For Weight Loss
1. Vegetables And Fruits
You feel full after eating a meal of veggies and fruits. This is because many of these foods are low in calorie content and high in minerals, vitamins, protein, and fiber. The high fiber content helps in the slow digestion of food and reduces instant sugar spikes in blood. This process prevents the accumulation of fat and thus aids in weight management and weight loss.
Some of the fruits and veggies that are rich in protein are broccoli, potatoes, asparagus, cauliflower, avocado, and apricots. Leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are fairly high in protein, too.3 Spirulina, a natural alga, has 60 percent protein content compared to steak, which is 22 percent protein. It helps to fight against inflammation in the body.4
2. Seeds And Pods
Seeds and pods are the parts of plants that contain more protein than other vegetables as they eventually grow into new plants themselves. They are good energy sources and high in dietary fiber. You can eat a snack of seeds like sunflower, flax, and sesame seeds in between meals to meet the daily requirements of protein for the day. They taste crunchy and can keep you from giving in to the hunger pangs and indulging in unhealthy foods.
Seeds and pods are also rich in fiber, minerals, and healthy fats and can cleanse the colon and improve bowel function. They detoxify and get rid of unwanted body fat. Flax seeds are good fat cholesterol busters, hemp seeds contain all twenty essential amino acids, and quinoa is gluten-free and high in protein.5
Nuts are the healthiest source of proteins, loaded with minerals and numerous health benefits. They are high in calories and keep your tummy full for long. A handful of assorted nuts can be a highly nutritious option even when you skip a meal. However, it is wise to consume them in moderation as eating more than the recommended serving size can trigger weight gain!
Nuts also have omega-3 fatty acids in abundance, which improve heart function. They are rich in unsaturated fats, which can help in weight loss. Some of the nuts high in protein are almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, and pine nuts.6
4. Legumes And Lentils
Legumes and lentils are almost as rich in protein as animal products. They are healthy, delicious to eat, and cost-effective, as well. They are also rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and are considered to be a healthy alternative to meat and dairy products. They are the only plant foods that provide significant amounts of the indispensable amino acid lysine, which helps in calcium absorption and improves immunity.7
5. Nutritional Yeast And Tofu
Nutritional yeast made from molasses is an excellent protein source and full of B complex vitamins. It helps to beat stress, keeps you satiated longer, and has probiotic properties that benefit the digestive system.8
For vegans, there is nothing quite like tofu for protein. Tofu is made from soy milk and has the protein and nutrition content equivalent to animal milk. It is a complete protein source packed with vitamins and minerals, is ideal for weight loss, and contains all essential amino acids. 9
A balanced meal packed with plant sources of protein like legumes, veggies, fruits, tofu, leafy vegetables, and a snack of seeds and nuts can give you that boost of daily protein you need. With these foods, you’re bound to eat less, stay healthy, and shed the pounds.
|↑1||Wolever, Ruth PhD, Reardon, Beth MS, RD, LDN, Hannan, Tania. “The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health.” Simon and Schuster, 2015.|
|↑2||Marshall, Keri. “User’s Guide to Protein and Amino Acids.” Basic Health Publications, Inc., 2005.|
|↑3||Hanif, Rumeza, Zafar Iqbal, Mudassar Iqbal, Shaheena Hanif, and Masooma Rasheed. “Use of vegetables as nutritional food: role in human health.” Journal of Agricultural and Biological Science 1, no. 1 (2006): 18-22.|
|↑4||Kohlstadt, Ingrid. “Food and Nutrients in Disease Management.” CRC Press, 2011.|
|↑5||Tegel, Daniel. “High protein meal and flour compostions and methods.” U.S. Patent Application 14/376,044, filed March 8, 2013.|
|↑6||Brufau, Gemma, Josep Boatella, and Magda Rafecas. “Nuts: source of energy and macronutrients.” British Journal of Nutrition 96, no. S2 (2006): S24-S28.|
|↑7||Boye, Joyce, Fatemeh Zare, and Alison Pletch. “Pulse proteins: Processing, characterization, functional properties and applications in food and feed.” Food research international 43, no. 2 (2010): 414-431.|
|↑8||Faipoux, Rodolphe, Daniel Tomé, Ahmed Bensaid, Céline Morens, Eric Oriol, Laurent Michel Bonnano, and Gilles Fromentin. “Yeast proteins enhance satiety in rats.” The Journal of nutrition 136, no. 9 (2006): 2350-2356.|
|↑9||Messina, Mark. “Soy and health update: evaluation of the clinical and epidemiologic literature.” Nutrients 8, no. 12 (2016): 754.|