Ten Vegetarian-Friendly Sources of Protein

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If you're a vegetarian, you probably find yourself fielding questions about protein on a regular basis. While vegetarians are often stereotyped as frail or thin, this simply isn't the case. From tennis legend Martina Navratilova to boxing star Mike Tyson, plenty of world-class athletes serve as absolute proof you can be powerful and fit without eating meat.

Proteins are the building blocks of your entire body, starting on a cellular level. Every cell in your body contains protein, which also makes up a substantial proportion of your muscle, bone, hair and nail tissue. If you're looking for meat-free ways to bolster your protein intake, there are plenty of foods you can add to your diet with ease. Here are ten sources of meatless protein you can integrate into your normal meals and snacks.

  1. Vegetables – Leafy greens like spinach and kale are great sources of protein, with 7 and 5 grams of protein per cup of cooked greens, respectively. A single cup of cooked peas packs about 9 grams of protein into a meal, so don't overlook protein-rich vegetables.

  2. Hemp – While its intoxicating relative gets all the press, hempseed is a great source of protein containing none of the mind-altering substances. Add 30 grams of hempseed to a favorite recipe or smoothie, and you'll increase the protein content by 11 grams.

  3. Milk – With about 8 grams of protein per cup, milk is packed with protein, calcium and a host of other nutrients that ovo-lacto vegetarians can easily integrate into their diets.

  4. Nut Butters – Cashew and almond butter, along with the classic legume-based peanut butter, are rich in proteins and healthy fats. Two tablespoons contain about 8 grams, so look for ways to make nut and peanut butters a regular part of your diet.

  5. Quinoa – Every cup of quinoa offers about 9 grams of nutritionally complete protein, meaning it's one of the few plant-based proteins capable of providing your body with all nine of the essential amino acids it needs to thrive, and cannot create on its own.

  6. Tofu – A soy product, tofu is an inexpensive vegetarian staple for a reason. A 4-ounce serving contains up to 9 grams of protein, depending on the firmness. For the biggest protein payoff, look for extra-firm varieties. The firmer the tofu, the higher the protein content.

  7. Lentils – Often used as a meat substitute for veggie burgers, casseroles and other classic recipes, lentils are a convenient, affordable and valuable source of protein for vegetarians. A single cup of cooked lentils contains approximately 18 grams of protein, making it one of the richest plant-based protein sources.

  8. Beans – Black beans, chickpeas and pintos, oh my! While different varieties bring different amino acids to the table, you can expect to add anywhere from 13 to 15 grams of protein with each cup of beans.

  9. Tempeh – One cup of tempeh contains about 30 grams of protein. That's more than you can expect to find in five medium-sized eggs!

  10. Protein Powder – 25 Grams of Protein per Serving. Perfect for post-workout recovery and on-the-go snacks to curb hunger, a high-quality whey protein isolate supplement like Pinup Girl Protein contains all nine amino acids, 0 grams of carbs or sugar and can even be integrated into many of your favorite recipes for extra protein. While these ten dietary sources of protein can be important parts of a healthy and balanced diet, high-quality protein supplements can also be an invaluable tool. Microfiltered whey protein isolates like Pinup Girl Protein can be ideal for busy vegetarians as meal or snack replacements and are incredibly effective as post-workout recovery drinks. Paired with a protein-rich diet, they can help you meet all your dietary goals without consuming meat products.
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