Maybe you got a smart pet and decided you had to go vegan. Maybe you’re cutting back on eating beef to lighten your environmental footprint. Whatever the reason, when you reduce meat in your diet, getting enough plant-based protein becomes important.
Why? Every meal should include protein since it contributes to satiety (AKA prevents overeating), provides energy, and helps maintain and build muscle (especially if you’re a gym junkie).
The good news: Our food supply is now filled with plant-based protein sources. Hemp and chia seeds weren’t sitting on grocery store shelves five years ago; neither were high-quality vegan protein powders. We can now meet our needs without burgers or wings.
How to do that in the healthiest way possible? Here’s everything you need to know about plant-based protein.
First of all, it’s important to know that it’s a (very widespread!) myth that you need to eat beans and rice together on one plate to form complete proteins (which contain all essential amino acids), like those found in meat.
Frances Moore Lappe proposed the theory of “protein complementing” in a book she published in the 70s. In later editions, she corrected the mistake to reflect the prevailing scientific position: as long as individuals are eating enough calories of varied plant-based food, they’ll almost always get all essential amino acids and meet daily protein requirements. In other words, yes, rice and beans are complementary, but you don’t have to mix them together during the same meal in order to benefit from the protein each offers on its own.
Plus, most Americans are eating more protein than they need, so it is rare to be deficient (although it’s much easier without meat!).
If you’re eating lots of different vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, you may already be getting more protein than you realize. Most veggies contain at least a few grams, for example, from broccoli to spinach and potatoes. But the following whole foods contain some of the highest amounts of plant-based protein:
Ancient grains like quinoa, farro, and amaranth all provide 8–9 grams of protein per cup (cooked) and are filled with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Legumes like lentils, black beans, and chickpeas provide many of the same important nutrients, like antioxidants, and deliver even more protein, with about 15–18 grams per serving.
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews are protein stars, too, and they contain healthy fats. That includes the nut butters you love, like almond and peanut. Just watch your serving sizes as calories can add up fast. And chia and hemp seeds are packed with protein (and many other beneficial nutrients) and can literally be sprinkled on anything—from avocado toast to zucchini noodles.
In general, it’s best to stay away from faux meat, but not all options are awful.
When it comes to soy, avoid faux meats made with highly processed versions, like soy concentrates and textured soy. And choose USDA-certified organic if you can, since soy is one of the most pesticide-soaked crops on the planet. All that being said, a block of organic tofu added to a stir fry instead of chicken is a great source of protein. Even better, try tempeh, which is a fermented version with probiotic benefits.
Seitan, on the other hand, is best avoided, since it’s basically concentrated wheat protein and is usually highly processed.
Finally, when it comes to veggie burgers, read labels carefully, since many are filled with processed soy and other potentially harmful additives. Look for products that list whole vegetables, beans, and other recognizable foods as ingredients. Better yet, make your own!
Finally, if you feel like you’re not getting enough protein, you can always boost your smoothie with a plant-based protein powder. This is a particularly helpful option if you love intense workouts and want to retain and build muscle shortly after a training session.
Skip soy protein since it tends to be super processed. Instead, reach for pea protein or hemp protein, which are both excellent, healthy plant-based protein powders.
Here’s the key: Most companies make powders that blend a mix of plant-based protein sources, combining pea or hemp, for example, with sunflower, flax, chia, or sacha inchi protein. These blends can be super healthy, you just have to pay close attention to the ingredient list to make sure they’re not also blending in preservatives, fillers, and artificial flavors. (P.S. I’m partial to Life’s Abundance Plant Protein Powder, since I just happened to help develop the recipe…so feel free to stock up on that one.)
The bottom line? If you incorporate all (or even some) of these foods into your plant-based diet on a somewhat regular basis, chances are you’ll be getting plenty of protein.
Why Eating Lean Protein Helps You Lose Weight
A: Just like you need carbohydrates and fat, you also need protein in order to live. When you think protein think building–you need it to build muscles (and skin and hair), build hormones and enzymes, and even build antibodies for a healthy immune system.
Protein is used in many bodily functions including cell maintenance and repair and blood clotting.
Ever wonder why your belly rages in hunger shortly after that morning muffin but stays calm and quiet after a hearty omelet? You guessed it: protein.
It aids in satiety by affecting the hormones which control hunger and how fast food empties from our stomachs. It also has the highest thermal effect of food (TEF), meaning it burns the most calories during digestion, versus carbs and fat.
And, we all know that protein helps build muscle and muscle burns more calories (yes, even while you’re asleep) than fat.
The USDA defines lean meat as having less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and fewer than 95 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3.5-ounce portion.
It’s also defined as a 1-ounce serving having 2 to 3 grams of fat.
Lean meat provides less calories for equal amounts of protein than higher fat meat. An example of this would be different cuts of beef.
One ounce of a lower fat cut like a top round offers 52 calories, only 2 grams of fat (.75 grams saturated), and 8 grams of protein.
Comparatively, the same one ounce of a higher fat cut such as a ribeye steak contains a much higher 83 calories, a whopping 6 grams of fat (3 grams saturated), and a comparable 7 grams of protein.
Note that fish such as salmon and certain plant protein like nut butters will have more fat than this but are heart healthy fats and certainly good sources of protein. I always recommend including them in the diet.
So, what exactly do I want you to put on your plate to meet those protein needs to slim your waistline and build your biceps?
It’s recommended that approximately 15% of your daily calories come from this macronutrient to meet your basic needs. I believe a healthy diet may safely have as much as ⅓ of your daily calories from protein.
Don’t forget we need the most protein when we’re growing (kids and pregnancy) and repairing (injured or recovering from intense strength training).
And, yes, lean protein will help you lose weight.
Aim to get it in at every meal, include plant (even you carnivores) and animal (unless of course you’re vegetarian or vegan), choose lean meat when choosing animal or fatty fish and don’t forget variety.NA Challenge: Go Vegan Once a Day!
Day 1: Shop ‘Til You Drop
Don’t be afraid of the word vegan. You already eat a whole lot of vegan foods without realizing – start simple with those foods you already know and love. Create a list of vegan friendly foods you love and plan a trip to the grocery store NOW! I’ll make it easier and start a list for you: almonds, cashews, pecans, chickpeas, lentils, romaine, spinach…
Day 2: Plant a Plant-Based Breakfast in Your Belly
Find a vegan breakfast you love. Mix quinoa (cooked) with chia seeds and almond milk and top with cinnamon, blend a smoothie with plant protein (my fave is unsweetened coconut milk, 1 teaspoon almond butter, ½ banana, ⅓ avocado and a scoop of protein powder), get creative with your oats or even a simple fruit salad with sprinkled coconut and chopped almonds will do.
Day 3: Yes, Salad Can Be A Meal Too
Bulk up a green salad with all of your favorite textured veggies, crunchy nuts and seeds, and herbs and spices. Just remember no cheese. If you are watching your waistline, you won’t want to add nuts and seeds without caution. You do need to think about how much you are adding into to your salad veggie base. If you’ve been feeling good eating a chopped romaine salad with carrots, tomatoes and peppers topped with grilled chicken, feta and vinaigrette, an easy transition would be to go for the same chopped romaine and veggies, swap out chicken for chickpeas (about ½ cup – you can overdo these little guys!), and chopped, toasted walnuts for the feta. The chickpeas will keep you full from the fiber and protein and the nuts will provide satiety from the fat, fiber and protein too. Yes, keep the dressing but remember to keep it to about 1 tablespoon.
Day 4: Expand Your Horizons
Experiment with new, less familiar foods and try a grain you’ve never had like bulgur or farro as the star ingredient of your main course. Instead of orecchiette as a stray from the go-to ziti try spaghetti squash marinara. Or, say buh-bye to your mainstay turkey burger and opt for a black eyed pea salad instead.
Day 5: Get Creative
“Veg” up your fave recipes and swap traditional protein with beans, nuts or tofu. Note: I am not a huge fan of soy but do think there is a place in some people’s diets for real soy such as firm tofu. Replace the beef in burritos with black beans or chopped, tofu and grilled veggies. Instead of bacon on those yummy brussel sprouts try adding chopped, toasted cashews.
Day 6: Avoid Dairy Withdrawal
Missing milk and cheese? Try a dairy alternative like rice or almond milk in your smoothie, cereal and coffee. Top popcorn with nutritional yeast, use flaxseeds instead of eggs when baking your next batch of cookies and top your ezekial toast with coconut butter and cinnamon instead of butter.
Day 7: Be a Smart Meat Head
When eating meat at other meals, opt for lean versions like chicken or turkey and lean grass-fed beef which is loaded with antioxidants and omega-3s. Remember, there’s more to the world than meat and potatoes. Since this is your last day of the challenge, go all out and go vegan for the entire day!
Hit the Books. Do some research and learn the details about what being a vegan means. Did you know that some seemingly vegan ingredients/foods may not be vegan after all? For instance, some brands of peanuts, Worcestershire sauce, oj, veggie patties, etc. actually contain non-vegan ingredients or are processed using non-vegan friendly methods. If you really wanna go vegan, there’s a lot to learn!
A little goes a long way. Research shows eating at least one vegan meal a day can help lower your risk of chronic diseases.
Show your heart some love. Vegan diets are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, which studies have shown cause vegans to be leaner and have lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Fill up on fiber. Eliminating animal products = increased intake of fiber keeping you satisfied and regular!
Be green and help the environment. Meat production has been shown to have a negative environmental impact; limit your intake, limit your impact. I recommend red meat one time per week if you are a meat eater.
Keep on living. Fruits and veggies provide antioxidants that mop up free radicals slowing the aging process, promoting weight loss and improving overall health. Research also shows red and processed meat eaters have a higher overall risk of dying from heart disease and cancer.
Eat the rainbow. Try a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds – experiment with new foods and recipes. Your pantry and fridge will thank you…it was tired of the same ole same ole anyway.
Power up with protein. Vegan diets incorporate a diverse array of protein sources such as beans, lentils, seeds, tofu and tempeh for exciting, and tasty, meals. Branch out from your chickpea salad.
Vegan doesn’t mean processed junk. As tempting as it is, don’t opt for vegan processed unhealthy foods like french fries, potato chips, bagels , and processed soy patties, and try not to replace meat with large amounts of refined carbs. Read labels carefully and of course buy as many whole, real unpackaged foods as possible.
Pump some iron. Red meat is not your only source of iron – get your fill with almonds, apricots, beans and lentils, seeds, broccoli, and spinach; eat them with vitamin C to increase absorption. Think spinach with tomato sauce and lentil soup with a citrus fruit salad for dessert.
Become your own chef. Invest in a vegan cookbook (and of course check out Pinterest) for more ideas on how to expand your meal plans and experiment with new ingredients. Going vegan doesn’t mean you have to eat like a bird, and it definitely doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy tasty meals. Did you know you can make a pizza crust out of cauliflower? Or “cheese” out of cashews?
Find a new local hotspot. Go vegan even when eating out! Investigate restaurants in your area that offer vegan fare, and try a new dish or cuisine – if you like it, challenge yourself and make your own homemade version.
In it for the long haul? If you decide to adopt a vegan diet on a regular basis, consider taking a B12 supplement as it is only found naturally in animal products. If you’re looking for a great vegan protein powder to supplement your diet, try my Life’s Abundance Vanilla Plant Protein.
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My mission in life is to help as many people as possible take their nutrition up as many notches as possible, so they can live their most Nutritious Lives. It’s really that simple.
Everyday I seek opportunities to help me accomplish my mission, and weigh opportunities that are presented to me to help me do this.
When the opportunity arose to partner with Life’s Abundance to create a line of the best supplements you can find that were organic (when necessary), completely GMO free, at a cost that’s accessible to most people, and that I could be 100% involved in choosing the ingredients for, it was a no-brainer.
Yep, you read that right. I helped choose every single ingredient that went into these supplements.
I’m so ridiculously excited about this, and I know you will be too once you finish reading this!
In over a decade of counseling clients in my private practice in NYC, thousands of people have come to me because they’re tired, stressed, overweight, unfocused, unmotivated, and feeling like they aren’t the best version of themselves.
We live in an age with amazing medical breakthroughs that save people’s lives, except we’re sicker, fatter and unhealthier than ever.
We’re overfed and undernourished because we choose convenience over wellness and our habits are shot! I believe that having a solid nutritional foundation (and this doesn’t have to compromise convenience or taste!) combined with the other pillars of a Nutritious Life can help anyone attain and sustain a healthy body, mind and life.
Each of the products I created with Life’s Abundance contributes to building that solid foundation in some way. So, if you or someone you know is trying to take their nutrition up a notch, I’m glad you’re here.
We all know we should eat better and increase the nutritional value we get from food on a daily basis, but many of us either don’t know how or we simply can’t make it happen. Sometimes, it’s just not realistic to get all the vitamins and minerals we need from the food we eat, especially with issues of depleted soil, eating processed and overcooked food, and not eating enough fruits and vegetables.
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There are a handful of supplements that I’ve always recommended to my clients because I think they’re the most important ones for optimal health, so naturally they were the first products we developed, and we focused on formulating them in an easy to digest way.
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Supplements aren’t for everyone, especially those that are already eating an incredibly clean diet or are following a plan that guarantees they’re getting in all the vitamins and minerals they need. But they’re great for anyone that doesn’t fit those categories, no matter how close or far from that end of the healthy eating spectrum they are.
By adding supplements to your daily routine, you may start to feel a little healthier and more motivated, which can slowly make you become more mindful of what you eat. When you learn to make better food choices and feel better in your body, it’s a game changer for your whole your life.
Feeling good comes from the inside (mentally and physically), and creating change in your wellness routine can happen without deprivation.
These products are not a diet – they’re intended to be incorporated into your diet and your life to support your overall health, not just for 30 days, but for a lifetime. This is why I’ve incorporated them into my pillars of a Nutritious Life philosophy.
I’ve had many opportunities to get involved with other companies before, but I never wanted to work with a company that I didn’t believe in or that didn’t share my same values and goals. When I met the team at Life’s Abundance it was clear we shared the same beliefs about health and wellness and our goals were in sync.
They’re an employee-owned company and they take a great deal of pride in doing solid work. They’ve been providing top quality products for pets since the 90s and a select group of dietary supplements for people since 2003. The introduction of these new products we worked on together represents a significant expansion of their dietary supplement line.
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I love, as in L-O-V-E what I do. In over 10 years of counseling clients one on one in my private practice and reaching millions of others via national TV, I know how incredibly difficult it can be to make healthy choices and to change your diet and lifestyle. This is why I lovvvvvve making it easier for people!
I also know that I’m very lucky to earn a living and support my family doing something that I am so uber passionate about. And I want to help others have this opportunity, too.
So many people have jobs that they aren’t passionate about. They’re caught up in the rat race and the daily grind and struggle of working harder and harder and never having enough time left. It’s not easy.
Others may like their job and may be super passionate about what they’re doing but they just can’t seem to make ends meet at the end of the month.
Or worse, some people experience both. Sound familiar?
Through my partnership with Life’s Abundance, I can now provide people with the best supplements I know, give them an opportunity to better financially support themselves and/or their families, and have a little more freedom and a lot more fun.
I truly believe that success comes from making money doing something you’re passionate about and actually enjoying it on a daily basis. Like I said, what’s better than helping people live a healthier life and earning a great income while doing it? In my mind, nothing.
Joining my team and becoming an affiliate is such an easy way to expand your wellness business. If you’re a health coach, registered dietitian, doctor, yoga teacher, nutritionist, personal trainer, massage therapist, pilates instructor, chiropractor, healthy chef, or overall health nut (like me!), chances are you already recommend supplements to people.
Yep, you tell them exactly what to take, which brands you love, where to buy them, and then you send them on their way to a better life and make no money in the process.
There’s a better way for everyone.
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Learn more about joining my team! We’d love to have you, and we’ll help you every step of the way!!
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