I'm struggling to get the recommended amount of protein while still staying at my calorie limit.

I'm vegetarian / mostly vegan and according to MFP, you need to calculate your current weight by .72 to determine how many protein grams you need.

In my case, it's 179 grams a day. Even if I were an omnivore and ate nothing but meat, I don't think I could consume that much protein every day and still stay at or under 1500 calories.

How do I make this work? Is your protein consumption just as (or more) important than staying below your calorie limit?

Replies

  • autumnblade75
    autumnblade75 Posts: 1,654 Member
    I think it's possible that you have multiplied by your weight in pounds rather than your weight in kilograms?
  • lorenzo_now
    lorenzo_now Posts: 5 Member
    First and foremost I'm not a dietitian, but I can say that I use orgain plant base protein which is vegan the vanilla has a decent taste. I tried to send the nutrition facts to help. Best of luck
  • Cheesy567
    Cheesy567 Posts: 1,165 Member
    edited January 4
    I'm vegetarian / mostly vegan and according to MFP, you need to calculate your current weight by .72 to determine how many protein grams you need.

    In my case, it's 179 grams a day. Even if I were an omnivore and ate nothing but meat, I don't think I could consume that much protein every day and still stay at or under 1500 calories.

    How do I make this work? Is your protein consumption just as (or more) important than staying below your calorie limit?

    Try using your ideal body weight for the calculation, consider using that for your protein goal. You can always run it by your doctor or friendly dietician if you need ;) Unless you’re lifting heavy weights, have kidney disease, or have other outstanding reasons, it’s a starting place.

    If making the jump all at once is overwhelming, make it incrementally. Bump your protein up by 10g/day each week until you’re at the level you want.
  • PrincessTinyheart
    PrincessTinyheart Posts: 677 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    That's likely more protein than you need. Protein is needed to maintain our lean tissue: We don't need a bunch extra if we have some extra body fat. The problem is that most of us may not know our lean body mass very accurately.

    It's more than the USDA recommendation, but quite a few of us here (me included) think that 0.6-0.8 grams per day per pound of healthy goal weight is a reasonable minimum. If you don't have a definite goal weight, use the middle of the normal BMI range for your height.

    Another option is this evidence based protein needs calculator:

    https://examine.com/nutrition/protein-intake-calculator/

    It's from a site that's generally regarded as neutral (for example, they don't sell supplements!). The background information about their recommendations, including citing relevant research, is here:

    https://examine.com/guides/protein-intake/

    I'm a vegetarian myself, though ovo-lacto, and have been vegetarian for 47+ years. It does take a little thought to get adequate protein on lower calories, as a vegetarian/vegan, but it's possible.

    In case you haven't run across it, this is a good site on vegan nutrition, run by registered dietitians and science-based:

    https://veganhealth.org/

    They have good info for new vegans, how to get some of the nutrients that require extra attention, etc.

    My personal tips are to think in terms not just of "one big protein per meal", which is often the way omnivores plan eating ("what's for dinner?" "chicken"). Of course, one major calorie-efficient protein contributor in every meal is still a good idea (tofu, tempeh, edamame pasta, seitain, other legumes, etc.).

    In addition to that, think in terms of getting a little protein in most things you eat, when possible, rather than choosing things that have no protein at all. For example, for a little crunch and some healthy fats on a salad, I'd use a sprinkle of nuts or seeds rather than croutons or oil (I often use just seasoned vinegar as a dressing, plus the nuts/seeds). Frequently choose veggies that have a little protein (broccoli, spinach, many more) over those that have nearly none. Use calorie-efficient seasonings like nutritional yeast, peanut butter powder or almond butter powder, miso, etc., that add flavor plus a bit of protein. There are snacks with more protein than others (dry-roasted soybeans, crispy broad beans or chickpeas are some examples). Even some fruits have a little protein, like guavas.

    A good place to identify some of those things is this thread, here on MFP:

    http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10247171/carbs-and-fats-are-cheap-heres-a-guide-to-getting-your-proteins-worth-fiber-also

    That lists many, many foods in order by protein efficiency, most protein for fewest calories. You'll need to scroll past the mostly meaty/fishy foods nearest the top of the list, but there are plant sources further down. I found that spreadsheet really helpful when I was trying to get more protein on fewer calories.

    When I was losing weight, I was able to get to the 0.6-0.8 grams per pound of goal weight range quite consistently, eating 1400-1600 base calories plus exercise calories. For me, as a 5'5" woman with a goal weight around 125 pounds (I have a narrow build), that's 75-100 grams. I think most days while losing I was getting grams in the 80s-90s generally.

    Now, in maintenance, I'm eating 1850+exercise most days, targeting 100g minimum, and exceeding that quite routinely. I admit, I do eat quite a lot of dairy (my Northern European genes handle it well, and I like it), but not all that many eggs. However, I eat enough plant foods that I'm pretty sure I could get to that protein level eating fully plant-based. To do it, I'd probably have to eat more soy foods than I really prefer, but that's a taste preference thing, not a health issue for me. I consider traditional soy foods to be nutritious and helpful - also tasty, but maybe not multiple times a day. YMMV.

    It's your calorie level that directly matters for weight loss, though nutrition generally can have an indirect effect through things like energy level or cravings. Getting enough protein is useful as one part of avoiding unnecessarily large amounts of lean-tissue loss while losing fat. It's not something that needs to be perfect immediately, you can work at upping it gradually.

    Unless you object to it for some reason, one option would be to use a vegan protein powder (in smoothies, shakes, or cooked foods, etc.) as one piece of getting the protein level you want, alongside gradually increasing protein from other foods (if you prefer getting protein from food vs. a supplement - I do, but again that's more taste preference than any kind of grand philosophy on my part).

    Best wishes!

    ETA P.S. If you want to see what I eat, for ideas, my diary is open to MFP friends, and you're welcome to send me a friend request if you want to see it. I don't log every single day anymore (I'm in year 6+ of maintaining weight), but do log most days. I'm a sub-par MFP friend, but will answer food questions on my timeline or by PM.

    Thanks so much for this thorough and insightful response. So much useful information here!!
  • PrincessTinyheart
    PrincessTinyheart Posts: 677 Member
    First and foremost I'm not a dietitian, but I can say that I use orgain plant base protein which is vegan the vanilla has a decent taste. I tried to send the nutrition facts to help. Best of luck

    Yes, I have been putting this in my smoothies - I love it!
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,772 Member
    I can assure you that you don't need that much protein.
  • PrincessTinyheart
    PrincessTinyheart Posts: 677 Member
    Cheesy567 wrote: »
    I'm vegetarian / mostly vegan and according to MFP, you need to calculate your current weight by .72 to determine how many protein grams you need.

    In my case, it's 179 grams a day. Even if I were an omnivore and ate nothing but meat, I don't think I could consume that much protein every day and still stay at or under 1500 calories.

    How do I make this work? Is your protein consumption just as (or more) important than staying below your calorie limit?

    Try using your ideal body weight for the calculation, consider using that for your protein goal. You can always run it by your doctor or friendly dietician if you need ;) Unless you’re lifting heavy weights, have kidney disease, or have other outstanding reasons, it’s a starting place.

    If making the jump all at once is overwhelming, make it incrementally. Bump your protein up by 10g/day each week until you’re at the level you want.

    Thanks for the tip... I'll try running the numbers with my ideal weight. I'm also hiring a nutritionist / personal trainer for a few sessions so I will talk with them as well.
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,867 Member
    edited January 4
    I'm vegetarian / mostly vegan and according to MFP, you need to calculate your current weight by .72 to determine how many protein grams you need.

    In my case, it's 179 grams a day. Even if I were an omnivore and ate nothing but meat, I don't think I could consume that much protein every day and still stay at or under 1500 calories.

    How do I make this work? Is your protein consumption just as (or more) important than staying below your calorie limit?

    You've gotten great advice re protein and the goal. I'd also recommend 0.6-0.8 g per lb of your healthy goal weight, whatever your current weight. The 0.72 would work fine if you calculate from a goal weight in the healthy range.

    I'm puzzled by the statement that your prior goal was "according to MFP"--the MFP default is just 20% of your total cals (which can be a reasonable goal, but can be on the low side if someone is trying to do 1200 and not adding in exercise cals, it just depends).

    20% of 1500 is 75 grams, which is sufficient for health, but for someone losing weight and wanting to maintain muscle (and in many cases maximize satiety), more (the formula above) may be preferable, depending on your height, as others have noted (or they may be consistent with each other already).
  • nooshi713
    nooshi713 Posts: 4,834 Member
    You don’t need that much protein.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,475 Member
    edited January 4
    Cheesy567 wrote: »
    I'm vegetarian / mostly vegan and according to MFP, you need to calculate your current weight by .72 to determine how many protein grams you need.

    In my case, it's 179 grams a day. Even if I were an omnivore and ate nothing but meat, I don't think I could consume that much protein every day and still stay at or under 1500 calories.

    How do I make this work? Is your protein consumption just as (or more) important than staying below your calorie limit?

    Try using your ideal body weight for the calculation, consider using that for your protein goal. You can always run it by your doctor or friendly dietician if you need ;) Unless you’re lifting heavy weights, have kidney disease, or have other outstanding reasons, it’s a starting place.

    If making the jump all at once is overwhelming, make it incrementally. Bump your protein up by 10g/day each week until you’re at the level you want.

    Thanks for the tip... I'll try running the numbers with my ideal weight. I'm also hiring a nutritionist / personal trainer for a few sessions so I will talk with them as well.

    Not wanting to be a Negative Nancy, but do check out what that person's education and certifications are, and what the certs mean, if you haven't already.

    In some places, the prerequisites to call oneself a trainer or nutritionist are very minimal.

    Where I am, literally anyone can call themselves a "nutitionist" just by calling themselves that, no formal education or outside certifications at all.

    That said, there exist some great, well-qualified people calling themselves those things.

    It's just that it's a "buyer beware" kind of market. No truly qualified person should resent polite questions about their background and training.
  • PrincessTinyheart
    PrincessTinyheart Posts: 677 Member
    lemurcat2 wrote: »
    I'm vegetarian / mostly vegan and according to MFP, you need to calculate your current weight by .72 to determine how many protein grams you need.

    In my case, it's 179 grams a day. Even if I were an omnivore and ate nothing but meat, I don't think I could consume that much protein every day and still stay at or under 1500 calories.

    How do I make this work? Is your protein consumption just as (or more) important than staying below your calorie limit?

    You've gotten great advice re protein and the goal. I'd also recommend 0.6-0.8 g per lb of your healthy goal weight, whatever your current weight. The 0.72 would work fine if you calculate from a goal weight in the healthy range.

    I'm puzzled by the statement that your prior goal was "according to MFP"--the MFP default is just 20% of your total cals (which can be a reasonable goal, but can be on the low side if someone is trying to do 1200 and not adding in exercise cals, it just depends).

    20% of 1500 is 75 grams, which is sufficient for health, but for someone losing weight and wanting to maintain muscle (and in many cases maximize satiety), more (the formula above) may be preferable, depending on your height, as others have noted (or they may be consistent with each other already).

    Sorry, I should have clarified about the MFP thing... I'm doing the 14 day challenge and day 2 focuses on protein. It said to calculate your protein grams by multiplying your weight in pounds by .72 if you want to lose weight, and this should tell you how many grams you need each day.
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,867 Member
    Ah, a blog thing. I thought it might be that. Unfortunately there can be goofy stuff over there. 0.72 g/lb for protein can be okay, but only if you use a goal weight if you have a good bit still to lose.
  • PrincessTinyheart
    PrincessTinyheart Posts: 677 Member
    lemurcat2 wrote: »
    Ah, a blog thing. I thought it might be that. Unfortunately there can be goofy stuff over there. 0.72 g/lb for protein can be okay, but only if you use a goal weight if you have a good bit still to lose.

    Ok, thank you!
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,475 Member
    Afterthought:

    I don't know whether this will help you, or not, but for me as a quick rule of thumb for evaluating potential protein sources at the store, I figure any individual food with 10 calories or fewer (from all its macros) per gram of protein is a pretty good veg protein source, and a dish (like a frozen meal or something) with 20 or so all-source calories per gram of protein is not too bad.

    I'm sure you're already tuned in to the idea that some things marketed as "meat substitutes" are not particularly high in protein, but rather are meat-like in texture or flavor or usage in recipes. (Some are good protein sources, too, of course - but it pays to read the nutrition details. I've seen people here thinking green jackfruit was a good protein source because people use it to make pseudo-pulled-pork sandwiches, when in fact it has a trivial amount of protein IMO. Tasty, though!)

    As a vegetarian, your almost certainly know this next, but I'm throwing it in for those who may be new to plant-based eating, especially those who may've been swayed by some less than science-based vegan advocacy stuff: We now know that it's not essential to balance essential amino acids (EAA) within a single meal, like we thought back in the 1970s when I first became vegetarian. But there's mythology circulating nowadays that EAA balance doesn't matter at all, which is false.

    Yeah, speaking loosely, the body will hold onto some amino acids for a while to play mix and match across meals, but it's still the better idea to vary plant protein sources within a day and over a small number of days, to prefer EAA-complete sources, to use tasty food combinations from traditionally (near-)vegetarian cultures (that tend to balance EAAs because traditional cultures weren't dumb, even though they were depending more on intuition/experience than research), and that sort of thing.

    I've even seen claims - which I know you don't subscribe to, or you wouldn't be asking the questions you are 😉! - that vegans don't need to worry about protein intake at all, because plant foods are just that good for us. Nope! 😆