Are you looking for high-protein plant-based foods? If so then you should consider foods with the most abundant amino acid.
Fun Fact: Soy products offer the highest protein source for vegans. When we think of high-protein foods we usually think of options like meat, eggs, and dairy. These foods are nutrient-dense and are high-protein. However, there are also several plant-based foods like tofu, peas, and chickpeas that are also high in protein. If you’re on the vegan diet there are many options if you want to get your protein from plant-based foods. They also provide a wide range of amino acids and some like soybeans, peas, and quinoa have all 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) we must consume through food/supplements.
In recent years certain plant proteins have been trending. They include almonds, chia seeds, and tofu. Some of them are very low-carb when the fiber is subtracted from the total carbs. However, if you’re not on a low-carb diet like Keto or Atkins you can still get lots of protein/aminos from options like quinoa, soybeans, and chickpeas. There’s even Ezekiel bread that’s made from 4 grains and 2 sprouted beans. The bottom line is while animal-sourced protein offers some good options they’re not the only ones.
What Exactly Are Amino Acids?
This is the first big question to take up. It’s important when talking about high-protein foods because those proteins break down into aminos. In fact, amino acids are known as the building blocks of protein. Their chains form peptides, then those peptide chains form protein.
Some of the best food sources of protein include animal-sourced ones. Some examples are beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy. These are all “complete” proteins. In other words, you get all 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) that people must get from food. They also contain enough for the whole day.
However, you can also get good protein sources from plant-based foods. Most of these are “incomplete” proteins. You’ll have to combine them to get the same nutritional value as complete proteins. There are many options like beans and brown rice, bean soup and crackers, and peanut butter on whole-wheat bread.
You can add both protein sources to maximize the nutritional value of your food. The key is to make sure you’re getting enough protein during the day. That usually works out to 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight.
There are 2 main kinds of amino acids. The EAAs are ones that we have to consume through foods. That’s because the human body doesn’t produce them. However, there are also non-essential amino acids (NEAAs). The body produces them but sometimes it doesn’t make enough.
The key is to make sure you’re getting enough protein and amino acids during the day. If you’re on a vegan diet then the sources should be plant-based and no include any animal products. This reduces your food sources since you won’t be consuming meat, dairy, etc.
However, it’s still possible to get all the protein you need. The key is to consume a wide range of plant-based sources to get the best results.
Vegan Diet: Most Abundant Amino Acid Foods
This includes beans/peas. They’re loaded with protein. You 18g of protein/cup. There’s also other stuff like fiber and vitamins/minerals. Try to go with fresh beans versus canned/frozen ones.
This is a whole grain that’s high in good carbs. You also get 11g of protein/cup. You can also add fresh fruit, seeds, and other tasty ingredients for taste/texture.
This is the highest protein option for vegans. In fact, it’s also one of the few plant-based complete proteins. There are different options like soy milk, fried tofu, and miso soup.
It’s not just high in Vitamin C and calcium. You also get 4g of protein in 1 cup. The protein content is higher than some beef options.
This seed/cereal has been trending lately but it’s been around for thousands of years. It’s a complete protein with 8g of protein/cup. This makes it an outstanding option.
You can go with peanut butter or peanut butter powder. The powder is higher-protein but loses most of the healthy fat so there’s some give and take with this option.
These seeds have been trending on low-carb diets. They’re rock-bottom in net carbs. Chia seeds are high in protein and other nutrients like iron, zinc, and calcium.
Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
Sprouted grains provide more nutrients than regular grains. Each slice of bread has about 6g of protein, which is about 25% of what you need for the day.
These nutty flakes are plant-based and high-nutrition. You get 8g of protein in 2 TBSP. You also get Vitamin Bs and iron for more nutrients for better health.
These provide 6.5g of protein from 2 TBSP. They can be added easily to smoothies, salads, and bowls. These boost the protein content and adds some munchy-crunchy goodness as well.
Top Benefits of Protein/Amino Acids
These are signal-senders in the brain that need amino acids to function properly. For example, certain aminos are critical for things like appetite control, fatigue delay, and anti-anxiety/depression.
Not all aminos are involved in these processes. So it’s not only important to consume enough protein but also to get enough of all amino acids. This will help to keep the neurotransmitters working properly as they send/receive messages.
2. Cell/Tissue Structure
Here’s another key function of amino acids and proteins. Certain proteins have a structure that helps to make cells/tissues stronger. These include proteins like collagen, elastin, and keratin. For example, collagen makes up to 80% of human skin. Meanwhile, keratin helps to make fingernails/toenails strong. Aminos are critical to help protect your body from damage/injury.
This is another key function of proteins. These are proteins that are involved in thousands of chemical reactions in the human body. This is important for your body’s cells and for everything to function properly.
Enzymes’ structures let them team up with other molecules in cells. This is an important process that’s critical for the process of metabolism that turns food into energy.
4. Muscle Building/Repair
These are some of the best-known functions of the protein. For example, we need enough of all 20 amino acids for building lean muscle mass. If the body doesn’t have enough of certain ones this can prevent “protein synthesis” even if you’re doing tough workouts. It’s critical to feed your muscles with the nutrients needed like protein.
Protein is also important for muscle repair. After hitting the gym your muscles might feel sore. This is normal and tends to last up to three days. You can speed up the healing process by getting enough sleep and boosting your protein. In fact, one of the best post-workout drinks is chocolate milk (sugar-free) for one of the most abundant amino acid foods.