Advertorial. You can only get enough protein from meat. If you want to build muscle, you have to eat a lot of meat. If you eat a vegan diet, you lose muscle mass.
Have you also heard this more often? Then we have good news for all those who eat a mainly or even completely plant-based diet: That's not true! It is also possible to get enough protein without meat. In this article we explain what protein is all about and which plant-based foods are particularly rich in protein.
Proteins - what are they good for?
Proteins, or proteins, are long chains composed of individual amino acids. There are 20 amino acids, they all have different structures and fulfil different tasks in our body. The most important task of proteins is the building of body tissue, i.e. cell growth. But they are also relevant for many metabolic processes, for the immune system, indirectly donate energy and act as hormones.
Proteins therefore play a role in a wide variety of functions in our body and therefore form the most important group of nutrients alongside carbohydrates and fats.
The DGE recommends a daily protein intake of 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight. This is based on the ideal weight. This means that people who are overweight should base the calculation of their requirements on their theoretical normal weight and not on their actual weight.
Where do I get the proteins?
Our body can produce some of the building blocks for proteins, the amino acids, but not 8 of them: they are called essential amino acids and are necessary for our survival. So we have to take them in with our food. When it comes to protein, a widespread opinion is that you can only cover your needs with animal sources such as meat or eggs. People who do a lot of sport in particular are keen to cover their protein needs, as this is important for building muscle. However, protein is also found in vegetables, cereals and pulses. If these are combined in different ways so that you eat different amino acids and cover your calorie requirements, you can also get enough protein purely from plants.
Vegetable or animal protein?
Many people believe that animal products contain huge amounts of protein. This is only half true and depends heavily on the product used: cow's milk, for example, contains less than 4 % protein, while meat sausage has just under 11 %. Muscle meat has the highest protein content with approx. 19 - 22 %. As you can read below, some plant sources can easily keep up. Moreover, food is always a total package of nutrients and an evaluation based only on protein content makes only limited sense. In a holistic view, plant-based foods often come out on top: in addition to proteins, they also provide unsaturated fatty acids, fibre, secondary plant compounds and more vitamins. Meat and eggs, on the other hand, contain saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, which in excessive amounts can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In addition, bioavailability plays a role, i.e. how our body can absorb and process the protein it contains. Although this is higher with animal products, there are also some plant protein sources that we can absorb well. Our tip: Sprouted cereals and sprouted legumes. During the germination process, enzymes, secondary plant substances, fatty acids, vitamins and proteins or amino acids are increased. However, the germination process not only increases the protein content, but also significantly improves the usability for our body.
Sprouted protein sources are therefore in no way inferior to animal sources and provide important nutrients in addition to protein!
Plant-based protein sources - the alternatives for protein supply
Whether you're going completely vegan or just want to eat less meat, the following plant-based foods are super healthy sources of protein that are worth incorporating into your diet.
Lentils are a great source of vegetable protein, bringing an average of 23.4 g of protein per 100 g of dry lentils (depending on the variety). Besides protein, they also contain a lot of potassium, iron, manganese, zinc and B vitamins. They are even better when germinated, for example in our Sprouted lentil stew or our Mousse germinated mountain lentil. If you would like to prepare more dishes with sprouted lentils, you can use our germinated lentils good for this purpose. Find out what makes sprouted lentils the ultimate source of protein. here.
Chickpeas have a protein content of 19 g/100g. In addition to protein, chickpeas also provide a lot of potassium, iron, zinc, manganese and B vitamins. You can eat chickpeas either as hummus or as an ingredient in delicious vegetable stews or curries. Or you can try our Germinated chickpea flour and our juicy Falafel out! Or you can try one of our Recipes with our Germinated chickpeas off.
Among the cereals, spelt provides the most protein, and even more when germinated. We had our sprouted spelt analysed and it comes to a full 15.5 g / 100 g protein. So if you want to increase your protein intake, change the oat flakes in your muesli with spelt, for example. Spelt flakes When baking, replace the wheat flour with Spelt flour or try our Pasta from sprouted spelt off. If you're in a hurry, you can use our Sprouted Spelt Bread Mix prepare a delicious loaf of bread.
With oats, the protein content varies between 8 and 12.5 g/100g, depending on the variety. The protein content is somewhat lower here, but oats are easy to integrate into the diet for many: Oatmeal in muesli, topped with a few nuts, make a delicious and protein-rich breakfast.
Other great sources of protein that you can spice up your meals with or snack on are:
- Pumpkin seeds with approx. 35 g protein / 100 g
- Sunflower seeds with approx. 22 g protein / 100 g
- Linseed with approx. 24 g protein / 100 g
- Almonds with approx. 22 g protein / 100 g
As you can see, the seeds and nuts listed here contain much more protein than pulses and grains. However, they also contain a lot of fat and therefore calories. Therefore, we recommend that you do not consider them as a primary source of protein. However, they are a great addition to a complete diet, not only in terms of protein!
Last but not least, we would like to give you the two most important tips:
Combine different cereals and pulses and add a few nuts or seeds as a snack. This way you get different amino acids that complement each other in your body.
Sprouted foods have a positive influence on the absorption of plant proteins. So go for sprouted foods or sprout them yourself. You can find out how this works in this contribution.
Image Plant sources of protein: Adobe Stock, #190778896, marilyn barbone
This information does not constitute medical advice and should not be construed as such. Talk to your doctor before changing your regular, doctor-prescribed treatment regimen.