Friday, January 24, 2014

Getting Enough Protein as a Vegetarian

One of the top questions people ask when they find out I'm vegetarian is how I get enough protein (among other things). It's not really something I worry about or track, but I am conscious of it, and try to eat something high in protein at least once a day. Hannah recently recorded everything she ate to see how she fares, and I'm copying. :) So here for the curious, are a typical day's worth of eats. A woman my age is supposed to get at least 45 grams (as stated here). Do you think I'll get enough?

I used Calorie Count to determine my protein numbers. :)

Breakfast: 

Dark chocolate almond granola with milk = 12 grams

Morning Snack:

Salad + 1/4 cup pistachios = 6 grams

Lunch: 

Vegetable stir fry = 22 grams

Dinner:

Vegetable wrap with cheese and french fries = 19 grams

Evening Snack:

2 squares of chocolate + popcorn = 7 grams

Total: 66 grams protein  


I'm honestly surprised by how far over the recommended amount I was! 

Do you track what you eat?

20 comments:

  1. I tracked my nutrition info for a long time as part of a diet. I was always well over the 15% recommended protein level, too. Dietary associations tend to recommend 15% of calories from protein, but that builds in an extra allowance and is "guaranteed" to prevent deficiencies. A lot of people believe you need far more, and think that if they are slightly active, they should eat "like an athlete," although in real life, athletes still tend to do carb-loading! Now if people just said, "I personally feel better when I have more protein," that's fine. It's too bad they sometimes project it onto everyone else.

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    1. I have to admit, it was fun to input recipes on that calorie tracking site and have it make a little nutrition label for me! :) And it even complimented me on each one, "this dish is high in manganese" etc. :)

      Yeah, I know someone who got caught up in the protein shakes for a little while because some of his friends had that mindset. Some people might really benefit from the extra protein, but like you said, that doesn't mean everyone else should follow suit.

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  2. Wow... I think I'm in the "I personally feel better when I have more protein" category. I just couldn't eat a diet that looked like that because carbs just send my blood sugar soaring and then crashing, which gives me headaches, makes me hungry, and just generally makes me feel crummy - not to mention all the weight that I gain if I eat like that.

    Of course, I was a vegetarian for 20 years - but a very high protein vegetarian. I never gave up eggs or fish, and every meal had a hefty dose of soy, legumes, dairy or nuts. Alas... since food allergies and sensitivities forced me to give up most soy, legumes, dairy and nuts... well, it just got too hard to keep trying to be a vegetarian!

    But I find it really interesting how different people react so differently to different diets. I often wonder if we're really built so differently on a physiologic level, or if things like lifestyle and emotions play some role in it.

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    1. When I was an omnivore, I preferred small portions of meat at any one meal, but sometimes I had to eat a whole cheeseburger or whatever and I would feel SO full, uncomfortably full. Maybe it does vary by person?

      And this particular day probably wasn't the healthiest day ever, but I do eat a lot of carbs. And maybe part of it is how you're raised? We had to eat dinner early (like 4pm) because of my parents' schedules, so we always had a small snack around 7:30-8:00ish so we wouldn't be hungry at bedtime (9pm). And even now, when we eat dinner late and I don't have my evening snack, I feel off. I don't need the snack that night, but my body's like "hey, that's our routine!"

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  3. To be honest, I worry about iron more (I ate a largely vego diet when a student). But it was surpringly you came in over the recommended daily levels.

    I track my calories since the start of the year (hoping for 1200 base per day), through MyFitnessPal which kindly synches with RunKeeper, so I can 'earn' calories to eat more (well that's how I play it!!). I am interested in the sugar numbers, with a full fat milk coffee and milk in porridge with berries, I'm over!! I've moved to oats with yoghurt and it's a bit better.

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    1. Good point! I ran my numbers again for iron levels. It looks like a woman my age should consume about 15-18 mg of iron daily (too many conflicting sources). Using all these same foods, I got 16.4 mg + my daily vitamin contains 4 mg so a total of 20.4 mg. Not bad, but I definitely need to keep taking my vitamin!

      My cousin did a no sugar diet once and he was shocked by how many things contained sugar - milk especially! Have you considered almond milk? You can buy it unsweetened here, and if you like the taste of almonds, it might work for you. It's a bit thinner than cow's milk, but I like the unsweetened's nutty flavor.

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    2. Actually, I have investigated all the milks we have here. 4-5% is the natural lactose sugars found in natural milk. I also used to have oat milk for porridge as it's got no added sugar, and the taste works well together. Now I have lactose free milk that's normal milk, treated in some way (heat or something). It works for me. Actually I don't care re:fat content of milk, which is now coming up against the calorie argument in food - never know what's best!!!

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    3. haha, everyone has their own theory on what's best. I use whole cow's milk in my cereal, which has 8g of fat and 11g of sugar per 8 oz serving (237 mL) and I'm fine with that. As long as you're happy with your milk, it's all good :)

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  4. Wow, never realised there was so much protein in non-meat food. I sometimes worry I am not getting enough calcium and Omega-3s, but don't think at all about my protein. We have meat with nearly every dinner, so I just think it is OK.

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    1. Some things (like vegetables) don't have much protein, but the milk, pistachios, edamame, and cheese were my biggest sources. Even the little things (each chocolate square had 1 gram) added up over the course of the day! I think if you're eating meat almost every day, you'll be fine as far as protein goes. Just a half pound cheeseburger - a very common main course here - has 50 grams of protein.

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  5. This is very interesting. I'm trying to lose weight and change the way we eat, so I'm taking it one day at a time. At the moment I'm trying to rid our cupboards of HFS.
    I rarely eat meat and would in the long run like to cut it from my diet totally.
    I'm also taking iron supplements because I'm anemic, but would like to be able to stop taking them too.....gosh I have a lot of work to do lol!
    Anyway I'm rambling! Thank you for highlighting this :)

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    1. That's awesome! I gave up HFCS a few years ago and it's extremely annoying to read all those ingredients lists, so good for you! (And I'm still reading them because things that were HFCS-free change their ingredients.) I think if you go slow, you'll be able to cut out meat and stop taking supplements. When I was googling about the iron intake, there were tons of lists of high-iron foods for vegetarians. Now that I know, I have to work those in more :)

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  6. Love it!! Isn't it so awesome to see that veg/vegan diets are QUITE high in protein? Nice job at proving people wrong ;).

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  7. That looks like such a tasty day's food. I'd love to cut more meat from my diet, but I worry about things like protein and iron. Glad to see the myths being busted - that's a great day's nutrition with these meals. I also run out of ideas for vegetarian meals, so I love seeing pics and meal ideas like this!

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    1. That's awesome! You might want to try a vegetarian blog (I read OhMyVeggies) and it really helps me find new ideas so I'm not eating the same thing over and over.

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  8. I've been a vegetarian for a long time now, and I've never had a problem with getting enough protein. As long as your diet is varied, most people are probably getting more than enough.

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    1. Agreed :) It was nice to add it up so I can confidently say I get plenty!

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  9. many people get far more protein than they need.

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    1. Agreed! (especially after seeing how much I get without trying!)

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