So together with Lightlife, we tapped registered dietitian Vanessa Rissetto MS, RD, CDN to fill us in on everything you need to know about protein and veggie-forward eating. Besides contributing to your health overall, she says eating plant-based also has some major benefits in the protein category specifically.
Here's how to get enough protein on a plant-based diet, according to Rissetto.
Meal prep (but, like, actually)
Sounds basic, but for anyone on a meatless diet, meal prepping is super important—especially when it comes to getting enough protein. "I think people shy away [from plant-based eating] because it’s easier to grab a piece of chicken than to prep your food," Rissetto says. "If you’re plant-based it might be difficult to just grab and go."
To make sure you're getting enough protein (and prevent any hangry situations), prep a few weekly meals and snacks that check off the protein box. Try throwing together a snack like homemade trail mix with protein-rich nuts. And stocking your freezer with Lightlife plant-based proteins (they're packed with up to 20 grams of pea protein and recognizable ingredients), makes veggie-forward cooking just as easy as throwing a chicken breast on the grill.
Do the math
The amount of protein you need per day doesn't change whether you're a carnivore, omnivore, or herbivore, Rissetto says, so no matter your eating style, you've still got to be intentional about how much you're getting. "It’s not about being on the plant-based diet, it’s about how much protein you need based on your weight," she says.
For example, a 30-year-old active woman who's 5'5" and 150 pounds needs roughly 55 grams of protein a day, according to this calculator from the USDA. How you're getting that protein is up to you, which brings us to...
Mix it up
Fruits and veggies should be the base of any healthy diet, but loading your BBQ plate with half potatoes and half watermelon isn't going to get you much protein. Focus on varying your protein sources; tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, and plant-based proteins are all great options.
That said, it's important to know the signs of protein deficiency. Fatigue, hair loss, brittle nails, mood changes, and hunger can all be signs you're not getting enough protein, according to Rissetto. But now that you're armed with all that info, and the endless handy menu swaps (plant-based tacos, meatless meatballs, plant-based nachos—there really is no limit), you're set.
Sponsored by Lightlife
Photo by Getty Images/jeffbergen
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