We have the freedom to choose what to eat and not to eat. For one, many people love their meat, whether it’s pork, chicken, beef, or fish. While others prefer eating vegetables and greens.
Vegetarians may seem to have limited protein due to lack of meat. But, infact there are many protein sources that are plant-based. As much as possible, they abhor meat due to animal welfare, religious beliefs and ethical issues. As for vegans, they are more extreme than vegetarians. While vegetarians can eat dairy products such as milk and eggs in their diet, vegans primarily consume only plant-based foods and products.
Pros and Cons of a High-Protein Diet
Regardless of whatever diet you are following, one thing is certain: protein is essential to our diet. One reason is because protein aids in our muscle development, as well as repairs tissues and create enzymes, hormones, and other important chemicals in our bodies.
With that said, we cannot live without protein, regardless of the source. Protein is considered a “macronutrient”, a type of nutrient that should be consumed in large amounts. In fact, a high-protein diet can lead to ketosis that converts fat into energy. The state of ketosis also causes appetite suppression that can lead to weight loss. However, this does not mean we can binge on protein any time of the day.
According to experts, high-protein diets can result to calcium excretion along with urine. In effect, calcium loss can lead to bone problems such as osteoporosis. Moreover, high-protein diets also tend to have higher saturated fat and cholesterol levels which can cause cardiovascular problems. It can also cause higher salt levels in our bodies that can cause kidney problems and bloating.
Vegetarianism and Muscle Development
Meanwhile, vegetarian diets should be carefully planned due to the absence of meat as the main protein source. On the other hand, a vegan diet is more challenging because they exclude any animal-based foods in their meals – which even includes eggs and dairy products such as milk.
So, how can vegetarians and vegans get their protein source? There are surprisingly many alternative protein sources available more than you think of. Among these protein alternatives include:
Nuts. Not only it is a great source of protein, but calcium as well. With that said, nuts are a must-have in every vegan or vegetarian meal. These include different types of nuts such as peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and many more.
Beans. Another great source of protein is through beans. Bean varieties such as kidney, pinto, and black beans have an average of 15g of protein. Plus, beans are low-fat, high-fiber, and affordable.
Legumes. They are kind of related to beans, only that they grow in pods. Among those under the legumes, the family includes peas, chickpeas, lentils, and soybeans. Legumes are low-fat, cholesterol-free, and a great source of protein. In fact, cooked lentils have about 18g of protein.
Green leafy and cruciferous veggies. You may be surprised, but green leafy vegetables are actually another great source of protein. These include spinach, kale, broccoli, and mustard greens. In fact, 2 cups of kale have around 4g of protein. You can add these greens to your smoothies or salads and you can get enough required daily protein you need.
Non-dairy milk. You can make your own non-dairy milk from other sources such as hemp, soy, oatmeal, nuts, and even quinoa. These milk alternatives boast a considerable amount of protein. You can drink it on its own, or add it to your smoothies or morning cereals.
At the end of the day, where you get your protein source depends on the diet you are following. Naturally, you would turn to plant-based alternatives as protein source if you are vegetarian. On the other hand, meat-lovers can continue enjoying their roast pork or steamed fish – make sure to eat moderately or risk having health problems as mentioned earlier.
More importantly, all of us will benefit if we eat fresh foods rather than relying on processed or canned goods. Regardless of what your diet is, it is still crucial to watch what you are eating so you can enjoy the benefits of your foods and the nutrients and other health benefits it provides.