Many athletes and bodybuilders choose to eat a high protein diet for its muscle-building benefits. But with more and more people choosing to follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle for health or ethical reasons, the question is, can still eat a high protein diet while avoiding animal products? The answer is a resounding yes - there are many plants that provide more protein than meat. Read on to discover our favorite high protein vegetables and fruits for building muscle.
Beans and pulses are excellent sources of protein. The added benefit is that they also contain fiber and are free from saturated fat and cholesterol.
Lentils contain 18g of protein per cup, 3g more than a hamburger. Chickpeas contain 39g protein, 2.5 times the amount of a cooked chicken breast! Soybeans and their products (edamame, tempeh, and tofu) contain 31g protein per cup, 9g more than a turkey burger.
Additionally, nuts and seeds are excellent vegan protein sources. One cup of mixed nuts contains 27g protein, 5g more than a serving of salmon fillet. Hemp seeds are super high in protein, 1 cup provides a whopping 57g, 9g more than a 6oz steak.
And don't be fooled into thinking that it's just beans and nuts that pack a punch in the protein department. Broccoli contains more protein per calorie than steak, and spinach is equal to chicken on a protein-per-calorie basis. Other high-protein plants include spirulina (4g protein per tablespoon), chia seeds (3g protein per tablespoon), and peanut butter (3.5g protein per tablespoon).
While fruits don't contain as much protein per cup as many of the vegetable sources mentioned above, some fruits do provide a decent serving. When added to your diet, they will count toward topping up your daily protein quota. Plus, fruits are the best source of vitamins, and they contain fiber, water, and phytochemicals.
Guavas contain 4.2g protein per cup. One avocado will provide you with 4g plant protein. Apricots, kiwi fruit, blackberries, and grapefruit will each give you 2g protein per cup.
You can get all the protein you need and more on a plant-based diet, with the added benefit of avoiding saturated animal fats, hormones, medicines, and cholesterol that come with eating animal products. Many vegan athletes and bodybuilders attribute their success to their plant-based diet, so you can rest assured that by being 100% powered by plants, you can build muscle and achieve outstanding performance.
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