It’s National Vegetarian Week and to celebrate, we asked nutritionist Lily Soutter how those entering the veggie world for the first time can get enough protein in their diet.
Gone are the days when being a vegetarian meant limited menu choices and slightly tasteless recipes.
In a new YouGov survey commissioned by Goodlife, protein was highlighted as one of the most important factors for people in the UK when it comes to their daily diet.
Goodlife’s Home Cooking, Eating Habits and Attitudes report 2021 was conducted on over 2,000 UK adults and found that 56% of those who eat a vegetarian meal every day said that protein content influences the meals that they make.
Many brands have jumped on the protein bandwagon in recent years, with everything from shakes to bars and powders. Providing all the answers to her most asked questions around protein, nutritionist Lily shares smart eating strategies that will help you reach your daily requirements as a veggie.
Keep scrolling for a delicious protein-packed recipe, too. How does a sundried tomato pesto veggie sub sound?
Why do we need protein?
Protein is one of the most essential building blocks of the body. We knew that already, but let’s recap.
Protein is vital for healthy muscles, organs and even hair, skin and nails. It is also essential for our immune system, as well as the regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters including serotonin. So not only does protein help you stay physically strong, it helps keep your mind strong, too.
Is it possible for a veggie to get sufficient protein?
As long as a varied diet is enjoyed and calorie intakes are being met, it shouldn’t be difficult to reach the daily recommendations for protein.
In fact, dairy products like eggs and soy products, as well as beans, pulses, grains, nuts and seeds contain protein. With so many delicious protein-rich plant-based foods on the market, it’s easy to reach our targets.
For example, just one portion of GoodLife’s Vegetable Protein Balls with Kale and Spinach provides a huge 15.2g of veggie protein.
How much protein do we need per day?
In the UK, adults are advised to consume 0.75g of protein per day for each kilogram that they weigh — this equates to around 45g per day for the average female. However, those leading a more active lifestyle may need to consume up to 1g per kg body weight.
When should I eat my protein?
Protein consumption is best spread throughout the day. Little and often is key!
Per meal, our body utilises a maximum of 0.25 to 0.4g of protein per kg of bodyweight for maintaining muscle mass. Surplus protein can be broken down by the body and used as an energy source and alternatively unused protein is excreted or even stored as fat.
This means that on average 20-40g protein per three-hour period is optimal for muscle growth and repair. Furthermore, protein helps us to keep us full therefore including a portion of protein at each meal can help us to feel satiated and satisfied all day long.
What’s the biggest mistake veggies make?
Many following a vegetarian diet over-compensate with dairy to obtain sufficient protein, however, there is a vast range of amazing plant-based protein sources to enjoy. Beans are a good source of protein, and just one GoodLife Spicy Veg Beanburger comes with as much as 6.3g of protein and is high in fibre, too.
Sundried tomato pesto veggie protein sub
For the pesto:
40g pine nuts
280g jar sundried tomato in oil
1 garlic clove
1 lemon, juiced
For the rest:
4 wholegrain ciabatta loaves, rectangles
20 Good Life Vegetable Protein Balls with spinach and kale
4 handfuls rocket
1 red onion, sliced
- Pre heat oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Place Good Life Vegetable Protein Balls onto a non-stick baking tray at the centre of the oven for 12 to 13 minutes. Turn once halfway through cooking.
- Place ciabatta bread in the oven to warm up, until it starts to crisp.
- For the pesto: Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.
- Slice open ciabattas, place five cooked protein balls into each ciabatta.
- Top with sundried tomato pesto.
- Add in a handful of rocket and sliced onion and serve.
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