Stories from Eating Vegan

This Underrated Plant-Based Food Has Almost the Same Amount of Protein As a Steak

Kells McPhillips

Kells McPhillipsJune 12, 2020

You have a lot of questions about lentils, right? Here’s everything you need to know about the legume

Shelf-stable protein sources are hard to come by (unless you’re, like, weirdly into canned chicken). That’s why the lentil—a legume that comes in all the colors of the rainbow—can really round out your quarantine haul. As dietitian and host Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, points out on the most recent episode of You Versus Foodlentils contain almost as much protein as a sirloin steak.

“Being in quarantine is hard, and it may cause you to rely on pantry staples. That’s why I’m here today, to talk about one of my favorites—lentils,” says Beckerman, who knows plant-based proteins like the back of her hand. She goes on to report that you’ll get about 18 grams of protein in a one-cup serving of lentils. Not too shabby, right? Meanwhile, a steak will give you about 22 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, but nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, CN, previously told Well+Good that—generally speaking—women should consume about 46 grams of the energy-boosting nutrient each day. So just to put that in perspective, one cup of lentils will get you well over one-third of the protein you need for the day. Winning.

Of course, it’s important to remember that lentils, unlike steak, are not considered complete proteins—meaning that they don’t contain the full complement of essential amino acids that the body can’t make on its own. Basically, lentils shouldn’t be your only source of protein if you’re plant-based. But mixing them with other plant-based protein sources, like brown rice, soy, or other legumes, ensures that you get the proper mix of amino acids that your body needs to thrive.

Apart from the impressive protein content, one cup of lentils contains about 16 grams of satiating fiber per cup and three grams of iron, which will help you double down on your quest to conquer the afternoon slump. To learn even more about the nutritional punch found in each teeny-tiny lentil, watch the entire video from start to finish. Then go forth and make your stews, salads, and vegan meat loaf.

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