Protein - Ideas and advice please!



  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 29,518 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    I'm vegetarian (ovo lacto), 5'5", 125-ish pounds (in weight maintenance now). I have a protein minimum of 100g, which I hit the overwhelming majority of days, and exceed very often. I'm a believer in the "0.6-0.8g per pound of healthy goal bodyweight" rule of thumb for protein minimum, which is roughly equivalent to 0.8-1g per pound of lean body mass, for quite a range of people (but most of us don't have a good body fat/lean mass estimate, so it's easier to math out based on healthy goal bodyweight).

    The link @Lietchi gave you is super-helpful: You'll just want to scroll down past the meat/fish heavy top of the list, to find more plant-based options. They're there.

    For protein amounts, here's some more food for thought, from a source generally considered neutral, evidence based (they don't sell supplements; they sell research, but offer some for free):

    My guidance to newer vegetarians (from my perspective of having been veg for 47+ years now) is to continue getting that "one big protein per meal" thing that omnivores do. That'd be your tofu, tempeh, seitan, legumes, bean/pea/soy pasta, some faux meats (watch out: not all are protein/calorie efficient!), etc. . . . or calorie-efficient dairy (nonfat Greek yogurt, lowfat cottage cheese, a few other cheeses, nonfat milk, etc.) , or eggs.

    In addition to that, think about getting at least a little bit of protein in almost any other thing you eat. There are veggies with more protein, even fruits with a little protein, nuts/seeds to add crunch instead of croutons, snack foods with protein (dry-roasted soybeans, crispy chickpeas or broad beans, bean chips, frozen Greek yogurt bars, etc.), and so forth.

    Look at your food diary, note foods that have quite a few calories, but not much protein. Are they foods you could reduce or eliminate and still get other good nutrition, feel full and happy? If so, cut some calories there, add in something you enjoy eating that has a little more protein. Across the day, those small amounts add up. Keep reviewing, keep tweaking your eating, before you know it, you'll have your protein levels where you want them, eating vegetarian foods primarily, if that's what you prefer.

    Based on your method, I should aim for 170g of protein a day. It feels like quite a lot but it's something that I could try and work up to, although I'm not sure I'd get quite that high as that's around 35-40% of my calorie intake. I've set it at 30% for now, which is 143g which is still going to take a bit of planning and working up to.

    I think my issue is a bit like you've said, I don't know that I always have a big protein thing per meal. Some meals, at least my main evening meal, but not always and I could do with working on those and additional sources of protein a bit more.

    Your tips are really helpful, thank you.

    A couple of specific things I like, that are reasonably high protein meals (or a big chunk of a meal):

    Smoked tofu, lowfat mozzarella, thin-sliced onions, mustard on small Ezekiel tortilla, heated in microwave to melt the cheese a bit, then add raw sauerkraut. (Around 350 calories, 26g protein.)

    Edamame pasta, peanut sauce (PB2 + soy sauce + a mild vinegar, optionally other spices/seasonings or some chile sauce), stir-fried or stir-steamed veggies of choice. (Calories depend on the the veggies, but excluding veggies, it's about 260 calories, 31g protein. Something like bok choi would add volume with few calories; green beans or peas would add a bit more protein.)

    Both of the above are pretty high-sodium, which isn't a problem for me. If it is for you, then something like a vinaigrette coleslaw on the tortilla instead of sauerkraut, and a swap-out of the soy sauce on the pasta, would take it down a lot.

    I mentioned bean pastas in passing in my PP, but if you haven't explored those, you may find them helpful. The chickpea and red lentil pastas I've tried have a flavor/texture more like wheat pasta (especially the red lentil ones), but around 13g protein per 2 oz dry portion, substantially more than wheat pasta. There's also chickpea "rice" (really an orzo-shape pasta, but labelled "rice"). The edamame or black bean pastas I've tried are either chewier than wheat, or (in the case of larger black bean shapes like penne) kind of mushier textured. I don't care for the larger black bean types, except in soup/stew, but you might like them better than I do. While I enjoy the chickpea or lentil pastas in Italian-like sauces/preparations, or in mac'n'cheese, I don't enjoy the edamame or black bean ones that way. IMO, though, the chewier edamame or black bean pastas in thin shapes (spaghetti, fettuccine) are good in pseudo-Asian-styled dishes, like the peanut sauce idea above.

    I don't like protein powder or protein bars, so don't use them. (I don't think there's anything wrong with them in theory, I just don't personally find them tasty/satisfying). I also don't much care for faux meats, so don't usually eat those, either.

    I do eat a lot of dairy (some regular cheese, but also some reduced fat types in certain contexts, like lowfat string cheese as a snack; nonfat milk; lowfat cottage cheese; some of the more calorie-efficient cheeses like chevre, parmesan (not genuine parmesan if avoiding animal rennet, but there are some parmesan-style cheeses made with vegetarian enzymes instead); and in my case really a lot of nonfat Greek yogurt.) Greek yogurt can be used as a sour cream sub in some cases (like a dab on a taco, tostada, bowl of hearty soup/stew), as a basis for a cold soup (fruit or cucumber are especially good IMO), as a component of home-made salad dressing, mixed into smoothies, used to top oatmeal or protein pancakes, etc. I don't personally eat lots of eggs, though I like them. As a generality, it seems like goat cheeses are a little more calorie/protein efficient than cow cheeses.

    I'm not a big pancake person, but the Kodiak mixes are tasty and high protein, if you like pancakes or waffles. (They have protein powder in them). A serving of those with nonfat Greek yogurt and some fruit is protein-rich and tasty. For a little more sweetness, I might mix some blackstrap molasses with the yogurt - it's an added sugar, but a good brand also adds a meaningful amount of micronutrients like potassium and iron.
  • penguinmama87
    penguinmama87 Posts: 1,158 Member
    Most things I would say have already been said, so I won't go on at length. But, if you like the idea of hardboiled eggs but find yourself getting tired of them...try pickling them. I like to with beets so they turn nice and pink. There's a million recipes out there but this one is pretty close to what I do, just adding the beets:

    The beets themselves are a nice addition to sandwiches in place of sliced tomato. :)
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,147 Member
    I'm a self-proclaimed "Goddess of Seitan"--my bbq "fibs" have made confirmed omnivores moan in delight. But it's not necessarily a low cal option, so be careful :-)

    @AnnPT77 has a great tip about "one big protein" and finding ways to add "little proteins" other ways.

    One of my faves is making salad dressing or "creamy" simmer sauces with hummus or silken tofu as a base (I don't dairy so yogurt is out for me).

    I'm also big on nutritional yeast, which adds a cheesiness to oatmeal and veggie casseroles, and can produce a passable queso with plenty of tomatoes, serrano peppers and cilantro.

    And like @ehju0901, I keep PB2 peanut butter powder on hand-- which I add to veggie stirfries and salads with soy sauce and maybe some ginger garlic paste for a southeast Asian satay vibe.

    @rosebarnalice: recipe, please!
  • westrich20940
    westrich20940 Posts: 849 Member
    Canned beans are my go-to - and often I just chuck a cup or so into whatever I'm eating whether it's soup, salad, or rice dish ... whatever. I've never had them ruin a dish. I also love keeping quinoa around and I also add that in with my steel cut oats when I make oatmeal. Could cut your rice with it as well for some cool texture along with the rice (which also has protein). Hempseed hearts I also add to my oatmeal or rice, or salads. I use Banza (surely other brands are available) which is chickpea pasta. There are many other pasta brands made with legumes too (like lentils)..but I think the Banza brand is the most 'like regular pasta' as far as flavor and texture. Lentils are also great.

    Seitan is good, if you want to make it - you can find lots of recipes. Tofu would also be good to add in.
  • JennBona
    JennBona Posts: 254 Member
    I find it hard to get in alot of protein too and Im not vegetarian lol My goal is 130g I usually have a shake a day post workout and I like mixing greek yogurt and cottage cheese for my afternoon snack and sometimes ill have a protein bar if im low on protein. Try protein cereal and theres protein granola you can add to your greek yogurt.
  • Salt4Stone
    Salt4Stone Posts: 63 Member
    Cover Everything in Peanut Butter!!
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 29,518 Member
    Salt4Stone wrote: »
    Cover Everything in Peanut Butter!!

    Great fat source, lackluster protein source, in calorie efficiency terms, IMVO** . . . unfortunately, because it's yummy.

    My fave peanut butter: 190 calories, 8g protein, so 23.75 calories per protein gram.

    I figure 10 calories (from all macros) is a calorie-efficient vegetarian protein source, 20-30ish calories per protein gram may be reasonable for a complete food/meal (sandwich, stir-fry, soup, casserole, whatever).

    That's just a personal rule of thumb . . . but I'll assert that there are darned few food (not supplement) sources much better than 10 total calories per protein gram.

    ** In my vegetarian opinion
  • jenstress
    jenstress Posts: 19 Member
    Great tips here. I like Orgain pea protein powder vanilla.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,147 Member
    JennBona wrote: »
    I find it hard to get in alot of protein too and Im not vegetarian lol My goal is 130g I usually have a shake a day post workout and I like mixing greek yogurt and cottage cheese for my afternoon snack and sometimes ill have a protein bar if im low on protein. Try protein cereal and theres protein granola you can add to your greek yogurt.

    I see no mention of lean meat, which is a more efficient source of protein for omnivores :)
  • jessica2021624
    jessica2021624 Posts: 18 Member
    JennBona wrote: »
    I find it hard to get in alot of protein too and Im not vegetarian lol My goal is 130g I usually have a shake a day post workout and I like mixing greek yogurt and cottage cheese for my afternoon snack and sometimes ill have a protein bar if im low on protein. Try protein cereal and theres protein granola you can add to your greek yogurt.

    I struggle getting protein in too! My goal is 137 g and I’m not used to eating so much. It feels overwhelming. My body naturally only wants like 50-60 g.

    I talked to my trainer and she suggested Quest protein powder and snacks but they contain milk. Even though I’m sensitive to dairy and trying to avoid inflammatory food, I did try the choco chip cookies and they’re actually decent tasting. Trainer also suggested sprinkling protein powder in foods like oatmeal, yogurt, baked snacks, coffee, etc.