Ever wondered where a vegetarian or vegan gets their protein? Despite common belief, there’s a load of plant-based protein sources to help you build muscle if you want to avoid animal products. This list isn’t exhaustive, but here’s our top 10 plant-based protein sources to get you started
Protein powder – 52g protein per 100g
It's an obvious place to start, but a protein shake really is a great way to bump up your protein intake.
Fortunately, the days of 'whey is the only option' are long gone. There's plenty of plant-based protein powders out there that do the trick, though many come with added sugars and sweeteners. It’s with a little toot of our own trumpet that we’d encourage you to give our Premium Protein a go - 100% natural, plant-based and downright delicious with zero additives.
Beans and legumes - 15g protein per 100g
These are great because they’re roughly 20% protein and can easily be added to so many meals. They also contain a good helping of fibre which contributes to a reduction in visceral fat.
Chickpeas – 20g protein per 100g
You can go for the whole pea in a curry, stew or chilli or the paste version – hummus – and lather it in a pitta, on rice cakes or dip raw fruit in it.
Chickpeas are also high in fibre, iron folate, potassium and a manganese and provide a source of complex carbs. What a rockstar.
Tofu, tempeh and edamame - 17g protein per 100g
Soybeans form the base for all these foods and, like quinoa, is also classed as a complete protein: meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids we need to consume in our diet. They’re also high in other nutrients such as iron, calcium, folate, fibre and vitamin K.
Tofu is nutritious, high in protein and hugely versatile
Tofu sits high on our list due to its versatility – it can be cooked to take on almost any flavour, compared to tempeh which is slightly nutty and so a little harder to use. Edamame has little taste, which is a positive really because like tofu means you can use other parts of the meal to flavour your dish.
One important caveat with soy and all soy products , be sure to only use certified non-GMO and organic sources.
Quinoa – 17g protein per 100g
While meat-eating bodybuilders claim only animal-based protein sources contain all nine essential amino acids needed for rapid development, this simply isn’t true. Many plant-based sources contain all nine, and quinoa is one of them.
It looks and behaves a lot like rice (but is actually a seed), so simply swap out white rice a couple of nights per week and you’ll be adding not just protein but also fibre, iron, magnesium and a source of complex carbs to your daily intake. Winner.
Oats – 13g protein per 100g
Ah the humble oat. While they’re first and foremost a great source of healthy carbs, you wouldn’t know they pack a solid protein punch too! Alongside a healthy dose of copper, manganese, magnesium, iron and zinc, the oat really is a nutritional powerhouse.
Peanut butter – 25g protein per 100g
It doesn’t get much better than that. Peanut butter is the best!
Who can’t resist a dollop of peanut butter on toast, in a smoothie, on yoghurt, in porridge, on rice cakes, drizzled over fruit…heck, it’s a great addition almost everything.
As well as a hefty dose of protein, peanut butter is high in healthy polyunsaturated fats – great for heart health.
Seeds – 25g protein per 100g
Hemp, pumpkin, sesame and chia seeds contain between 20 to 30 grams of protein per 100g. They’re also high in iron, calcium, zinc and the all-important Omega-3 fatty acids which contribute to heart health. Chuck them on your morning oats or porridge, in your smoothie or over yoghurt.
Spirulina – 60g protein per 100g
Perhaps not what you'd expect to find on a protein-packed list, but spirulina is a genuine supremo when it comes to building muscle. This algae (don’t let that put you off) is a whopping 60% protein and is possibly the most nutrient-dense food on earth.
Buy it in a powder form (as per our Ultimate Daily Greens) and chuck it in a smoothie or sprinkle over yoghurt for the ultimate protein boost.
Ultimate Daily Greens – loaded with spirulina for a protein boost