The Top 5 Sources of Plant-Based Protein (& Why Your Body Wants You to Eat Them)

I have achieved top-level athletic performance and sustained huge health gains by switching to a plant-based diet — but still get asked frequently about plant-based proteins and how to get enough. Here’s why you should and how you can consume more plant-based proteins.

Top 3 Benefits of Plant-Based Proteins

1. Alkaline-forming
The typical North American diet is acid-forming (meat, bread, etc…), while the body naturally has an alkaline pH. Your body will always have an alkaline pH, but when inundated with acid-forming foods, it has to pull minerals from your bones to maintain an alkaline pH. Adding more alkaline-forming foods from a clean, plant-based diet can help you combat inflammation, reduce stress, and protect bone health. A good indicator of whether a food is alkaline-forming is the presence of chlorophyll — the greener the food, the better.

2. Low in saturated fat
High levels of saturated fat in your blood raise cholesterol and contribute to clogged arteries. If your diet is rich in saturated fats (found mostly in meat, dairy and eggs), you are more likely to suffer from heart disease in the years to come. Unsaturated fats (found in nuts and seeds) are the alternative and help to keep your heart healthy. Note that the saturated fat in coconut oil is not metabolized like saturated fats from animal products, so it is fine to consume small amounts of coconut products.

3. Better for the environment
Did you know that diet affects the environment even more than your commute? Because it takes more water, energy and fuel to produce animal products, switching to plant-based foods saves water, reduces carbon emissions, protects arable land — all of which have a huge environmental impact.

Even if you’re not 100 percent plant-based, everyone can benefit from adding even just one or two more servings of plant-based protein into their daily life. Variety is key to optimal health, so switch out several of your go-to proteins with one of the options below. You’ll benefit from the addition of a variety of amino acids, vitamins and minerals—and they taste good, too.

My Top 5 Plant-Based Proteins

1. Quinoa
While it tastes like a grain, quinoa is actually a seed. This gluten-free alternative to couscous or bulgur is a complete plant-based protein. Quinoa only takes 15 to 20 minutes to prepare and actually freezes very well. Serve it hot or cold as a base for a stir-fry or salad, or a hot side to a meals.

2. Sea Vegetables
Seaweed, kelp, and other algaes have been a source of complete protein for coastal civilizations for thousands of years. Try swapping kelp noodles for regular pasta, and adding wakame to soups and salads. You can also add chlorella or spirulina to smoothies. If you’re trying to cut down on your salt intake, swap our dulse granules for salt in any savory recipe.

3. Lentils
Red, green and yellow lentils are all excellent sources of protein, fiber, and iron. Depending on how you choose to flavor them, they can transport your taste buds around the globe to the Middle East, India or the Mediterranean. You can find a guide to flavor profiles around the world — and how to use them to transform your basic lentil dish — in my free Thrive Forward program.

4. Plant-Based Protein Powder
When choosing a protein supplement, whether female or male, look for one that is multisource — meaning it contains more than one plant-based protein source.  I formulated Vega Sport Performance Protein to be a complete multi-sourced, alkaline forming plant-based protein powder derived from sanchi inci seeds, pea and sprouted whole grain brown rice.

5. Hemp Seed
Though tiny, hemp seeds are a source of complete protein—containing all 10 essential amino acids. With a creamy, nutty taste, these seeds are also high in plant-based Omega-3s. Add hemp seeds to salads, smoothies or even to your favorite muffin recipe.

Plant-based proteins form the foundation of health and are easy to incorporate into your everyday life. I created Thrive Forward to help guide you through all the principles of clean, plant-based eating, as well as to bust protein myths. Register today for free access to this personalized, online education program.

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