Efficient plant-based ways of getting 130g protein

Hi folks

I (f35) am strength training while also aiming to lose fat. Based on multiple calculators, I should be aiming for 130g protein while eating at a modest deficit of 1600 calories.

I am struggling to get to 130g, yet alone 100g, a day while sticking to 1600 calories.

To make matters more complicated, I deal with the following:
  • Can't eat much dairy because it upsets my stomach and makes my skin break out
  • Can't stand canned tuna
  • Don't want to rely on too much meat because of cost/ethical reasons
  • Can't get many turkey products (which I know are high protein and low fat) in my country. Turkey here is uncommon and expensive.

I have tried using tofu instead of meat, but find that meat is the only way I can reach my protein target. I also use vegan protein powder but find I am relying on this too much (and I don't know if it's really good to consume it as much as I have been).

What are your recommendations for dairy-free (and mainly plant-based) ways of hitting 130g without adding too many calories? TIA :)


  • mtaratoot
    mtaratoot Posts: 13,374 Member
    edited January 21
    What are your current weight and height? Is that 1600 calories your goal before you exercise? Your goal will increase with exercise. Is 1600 the right number? How did you get to a goal of 130 grams of protein?

    A wise person has shared THIS RESOURCE here before. Check it out. It lists not only protein content of a bunch of foods, but also protein as a percentage of total calories. Crab would be near the top. Some other fish do too. If you aren't gluten sensitive, seitan might be a good go-to. It's not on that list, but tempeh has 16 grams of protein per 150 calorie serving.

    Canned salmon can be a good option, especially if you get the kind with bones. That means you also get calcium. Same thing with sardines in water. Canned mackerel. All affordable, and again if you get the kind with bones you get more protein and calcium.

  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 32,504 Member
    130g is quite a high protein goal, and I say that as a woman who believes in fairly high protein goals. If you're tall, that may be right, though. Did you by any chance get that estimate from protein calculators that use your current body weight as a basis, and are you currently overweight? If so, it's OK to use a healthy goal weight as the basis for the protein estimate. We don't need bunches of extra protein to maintain our fat mass.

    Tofu, tempeh, seitan, various legumes are plant based things I rely on as a vegetarian for the "big protein" in each meal. Some kinds of fake meat have protein, but I don't like 'em, so I don't eat 'em. If you like them, they can be helpful. Protein powder is fine in the abstract as a supplement, though IMO it's always better to get needful nutrients from foods if possible. Personally, I also eat a lot of dairy and some eggs (not lots), but you mentioned not wanting to eat dairy.

    On top of the "one big protein per meal" idea, think about getting small amounts of protein from almost everything you eat, to the extent possible. There are grains with more protein, bread with more protein, high-protein pasta, higher protein veggies, even some fruits with protein. (You can find some of those via the link mtaratoot posted above).

    Take a look at your food log, looking for foods that contribute quite a few calories but very little protein. If some of those could be reduced without hindering your satiation or nutrition (or happiness), reduce them and replace with things you enjoy eating that have at least a little protein. Those small amounts through the day will add up. Often, those add-ons are not as complete (in essential amino acids) or as bioavailable as animal protein, but varying them through the day will compensate for that somewhat.

    There are even flavoring ingredients you can use that add some protein to your meals. I'm thinking of things like miso, nutritional yeast, peanut butter powder or almond butter powder.

    You don't have to be instantly optimal in protein, and it's fine to use protein powder transitionally while you're working things out. (It's also find to use some longer term, if the alternative is too-low protein.)

    I'd also share the question of whether your weight loss rate is sensibly moderate. Many of us here (I'm one) think that it's good to lose no more than 0.5-1% of current weight per week, with a bias toward the lower end of that range unless severely obese and under close medical supervision for deficiencies or complications. That's extra true for anyone whose goals includes muscle mass maintenance, or gain. Gain is improbable in a calorie deficit, but the odds are slightly better the slower a person loses weight. That assumes a good, progressive strength training program in the picture, too, of course.

    Best wishes!
  • AbbeyDove
    AbbeyDove Posts: 317 Member
    This is just a small suggestion, not a big one, but dry roasted edamame have been helpful for me. I don't know if this brand is available near you, but Eden Foods makes this. It's around 20 grams of protein for 1/3 cup.