High Protein Vegetarian Foods to include in your Indian diet
If you are an Indian and want to start eating a high protein diet, what usually comes to mind is having chicken and eggs all day, every day. This is definitely not true as there are plenty of protein-rich vegetarian food options available year-round.
This is great news for vegetarians as they don’t need to stress whether they are getting sufficient protein on a daily basis.
Why Protein is important in your diet?
Proteins are the building blocks of life as every cell in the human body contains protein. They help your body repair cells, muscle tissue and make new ones.
You should include protein-rich foods in your diet if you want to maintain a healthy amount of muscle mass and especially if you are serious about gaining muscle and reducing fat from your body.
How much protein should I have in my daily diet?
If you’re at a healthy weight, don’t lift weights, and don’t exercise much, aiming for 0.8–1.3 gram per kg is a reasonable estimate.
This amounts to:
56–91 grams per day for the average male
46–75 grams per day for the average female
For building and gaining muscle mass, a common recommendation is 0.8 gram of protein per pound (1.8 grams per kg) of body weight.
Protein-rich vegetarian foods to include in your diet
As a vegetarian in India, getting sufficient protein intake through your diet can be a challenging task.
By including the below list of vegetarian foods in to your daily nutrition, you can definitely increase your protein intake.
Keep in mind that the protein content changes depending on how you prepare each food. The values below match the cooking method indicated for each food.
Being an excellent source of protein, a 240 ml cup of cooked lentils provides about 18g of protein and 15g-30g of dietary fiber which amounts to 50% of the daily recommended fiber intake,
It has virtually no saturated fat or sodium and contains good amounts of slowly digested complex carbohydrates.
You can include lentils in a variety of dishes including salads, soups and the quintessential Indian dish Dal & Rice.
1 cup of cooked chickpeas offers 14-16 grams of protein besides fibre, carbohydrates, iron, vitamins and minerals.
Chickpeas are best eaten when boiled and can be included in your favourite curries, soups, and vegetable bowls.
Red Kidney Beans
1 cup (177g) of cooked red kidney beans or ‘Rajma’ offers 15 grams of protein and comes packed with antioxidants.
Black Eyed Beans
1 cup (177g) of cooked black-eyed beans or ‘Rongi’ offers 14 grams of protein plus iron, vitamin-B, magnesium and potassium.
1 cup (202g) of boiled mung beans contain 14 grams of protein.
Mung beans are part of the legume family and offer plenty of protein per serving. They’re also a good source of iron and fiber.
Almonds, Peanuts, and Other Nuts
Nuts are a powerhouse of protein and unsaturated fat (the good kind).
Almonds offer 16.5 g of protein per ½ cup and Peanuts offer 13 g of protein per ½ cup.
If you are buying almond or peanut butter then 2 tablespoons of almond and peanut butter offer 7-8 grams of protein depending on the brand you choose.
They fill you up faster and for longer, help you with a healthy BMI, higher life expectancy and help to stabilize blood sugar.
Cashews, almonds, pistachios and peanuts harbor higher amounts of proteins than other nuts like hazelnuts.
Most of the dark-colored, green leafy vegetables are considered to be high in protein. Some of these include:
1 cup of broccoli offers 4 grams protein but also makes up for calcium, vitamin-B, vitamin-C and fiber.
This crunchy vegetable, which might not be to everyone’s taste, is the go-to healthy snack.
Spinach is rich not only in iron but in protein too. 1 cup of spinach offers 5 grams protein.
1 cup of Green Peas offers 8 grams protein and brings in the goodness of a not-so-common amino acid – leucine that aids weight loss.
Green peas are quite versatile and can be added to several recipes.
Paneer and Dairy Products
Being a vegetarian, dairy should be your primary source of animal protein, as animal protein is a complete protein (contains 9 essential amino acids).
And in dairy, other than whey protein, paneer is your best source of protein. 100 grams of paneer has around 14 grams of protein.
Other dairy products to include in your diet are whole milk (3.4 g protein per 100 g),
Curd (Plain Curd – 3.1 g protein per 100 g and Hung Curd 9.25 g protein per 100 g)
When talking about protein, a vegetarian can never rule out the goodness of oats.
½ cup of whole dry oats provides 6.75 grams protein while ½ cup instant oats offer 4.75 grams protein for the same amount.
Cooked oats could be eaten with milk, added to fruit or vegetable salads, and a variety of dishes.
All-in-all Oats should definitely be part of a protein-rich diet.
Difference between Plant and Animal Protein
It is important for people to understand the difference between plant and animal protein.
Animal protein tends to contain a good balance of all the amino acids that we need, whereas some plant proteins are low in certain amino acids.
For example, some key plant proteins are often low in methionine, tryptophan, lycine and isoleucine.
Animal protein sources, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy, are similar to the protein found in your body and contain all of the essential amino acids that your body needs to function effectively.
Therefore, animal proteins are considered complete sources of protein.
On the other hand, plant protein sources, such as lentils, beans, nuts, are incomplete since they lack one or more of the essential amino acids that your body needs.
It is therefore important for vegetarians to diversify and combine several plant-based food groups in their meals so as to ensure that you are getting all the essential amino acids.
Supplement with Whey Protein
Another important point to mention is supplementing your daily protein intake with whey protein.
It can be difficult for vegetarians and non-meat eaters to get sufficient daily protein since most vegetarian sources of protein are incomplete i.e., they don’t contain all 9 essential amino acids.