There is certainly an misconception that if you don’t eat meat, than you can’t get enough protein – but this is so far from the truth!
I’m going to show you how I get over 100 grams of protein, without eating any meat!
*Note that everyone’s protein needs are different. I usually try to aim for around 80-90 grams of protein a day, based on my weight and physical activity level. More on your protein needs below.
This post is sponsored by my favourite new way to add protein to my breakfast meal: Allo Protein Powder for Hot Coffee! Out of all my meals, I struggle to get enough protein at breakfast the most, as I try to aim for 20-30 g of protein per meal. I have been using the Allo Nutrition Protein powder in my morning coffee to give me 10 grams of protein – and it mixes in so seamlessly while maintaining the integrity of your black coffee! Watch me mix it into my coffee during this during this TikTok video. The flavours are sugar free, gluten-free and clump free. A really great option for busy people on the go, who may need a protein boost! They are from my home city, Toronto, which makes me love them even more. Check them out at @alloyourcoffee on social!
Function of Protein
Why do we care about protein anyways?
Let’s first discuss what protein is. Protein is made of amino acids, which your body uses for basic functions like maintaining hair, skin, nails, and bones, and producing hormones, enzymes, and other chemicals. Protein is involved in basically every bodily process.
It’s also a necessary macronutrient for the building and repair of muscles. Not getting enough protein can lead to muscle wasting, fractures, and susceptibility to infection. Protein deficiency is extremely rare, as long as you’re consuming enough calories. Protein also helps us feel fuller for longer by releasing GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1) and CCK (cholecystokinin) – both proteins that play a role in satiety. Protein also decreases levels of a hormone called neuropeptide Y, which can increase hunger.
Before we get into talking about the building blocks of protein, let’s touch on how our body uses protein. When we eat protein – whether it’s a chicken breast or tofu – amino acids are coiled into chains in the shape of helixes. During digestion, these helixes are uncoiled in the stomach, and the chains that make up that protein are broken up into smaller chains by enzymes in the stomach. These chains are then broken up further into individual amino acids in the small intestine by enzymes called proteases. The amino acids are then absorbed into the bloodstream and transported around the body to be used in various functions (as listed above).
So how much protein do we need in a day?
Protein requirements depend on factors such as body composition, activity level, weight, disease state, etc. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that people should have around 0.8 to one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, research has evolved since then. A study done in 2012 by Bray et al. in a metabolic ward found that 1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight was the sweet spot for protein intake – meaning that a lower protein intake resulted in more lean body mass loss and protein intake over 1.8 g per kg didn’t make much of a difference in composition.
In a 2018 review of studies by Schoenfeld & Aragon, the consensus was 0.4 grams of protein per kilogram per meal, which works out to about 20 to 30 grams – but this was also recommended four times a day. If you like to eat three meals a day, you can make up the rest of your protein needs in snacks.
For athletes, the latest recommendations from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) are that athletes should be getting between 1.4 to 2.0 grams per kilogram bodyweight of protein. This also depends on the type and intensity of training. It’s also best to consume protein throughout the day, especially within 30 minutes following a workout, to optimize its benefit on recovery, repair, and muscle growth. You can read more about the ISSN’s recommendations about protein in the required readings below.
Another important thing to note is that it’s not just the total amount of protein in a day that matters, but it’s also the protein timing. Several researches have found that consuming a minimum of 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal promotes fullness and preserve muscle mass, better than smaller amounts of protein eaten throughout the day (Deutz & Wolfe, 2013).
What I Eat To Get My Protein Needs Met
Alright, that being said, this is how I meet my protein needs in a day!
Breakfast (50 g of protein)
- Allo Protein Powder In Coffee (10 g of Protein)
- Tofu Scramble + High Protein Bread (40 g of Protein)
- 1 package Allo Protein Powder For Hot Coffee
- 240 ml Coffee
- Make your coffee then stir in the package of Allo Protein Powder. Stir and enjoy!
- 16 Oz Extra Firm Tofu
- 1/2 Red Onion
- 1 Red Pepper Sliced
- 4 Cup Kale
- 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
- 0.5 Tsp Chili Powder
- 0.5 Tsp Turmeric
- Pat tofu dry and roll in a clean, absorbent towel with something heavy on top, such as a cast-iron skillet, for 15 minutes.
- While tofu is draining, prepare sauce by adding dry spices to a small bowl and adding enough water to make a pourable sauce. Set aside.
- Prep veggies and warm a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil and the onion and red pepper. Season with a pinch each salt and pepper and stir. Cook until softened – about 5 minutes.
- Add kale, season with a bit more salt and pepper, and cover to steam for 2 minutes.
- In the meantime, crumble the tofu with a fork into bite-sized pieces.
- Use a spatula to move the veggies to one side of the pan and add tofu. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add sauce, pouring it mostly over the tofu and a little over the veggies. Stir immediately, evenly distributing the sauce. Cook for another 5-7 minutes until tofu is slightly browned.
- Serve with high protein bread and enjoy!
Snacks (12 grams of Protein)
- 1/2 Cup Roasted Chickpeas (6 g of Protein)
- 1/4 Cup of Pistachios + 1 Apple (6 g of Protein )
Lunch (27 g of protein)
Baked Chickpea Pasta
- 3-4 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1 red pepper sliced
- 8 oz chickpea pasta dried
- 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup hummus
- 1 tsp dried basil
- Preheat the oven to 400F, then in a large baking dish, add in your cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and 1 tsp of olive oil and toss to combine.
- Make a well in the center of your baking dish and add in your hummus. Top the hummus with the dry basil, oregano and the remaining olive oil, then place in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes or until tomatoes are blistered and juicy.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.
- Once the veggies and hummus are cooked, carefully with a fork mash your tomatoes and garlic to fully release all of their juices, then mix into the hummus to get a thicker sauce. Mix in cooked pasta and enjoy.
Dinner (25 g of protein)
Tempeh Quinoa Stir Fry
- 1.5 cup Quinoa cooked
- 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
- 1/4 cup Veggie Broth
- 1 tbsp Garlic powder
- 1 tbsp Basil
- 18 oz Tempeh
- 1/2 Onion sliced
- 3 cups Broccoli Florets
- 1 cup Edamame
- 1/2 head Cauliflower chopped
- Mix together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, vegetable broth, garlic and oregano in a bowl. Add the tempeh/tofu and marinate for at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Add the prepared veggies to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once the tempeh is done marinating, add it to the parchment-lined baking sheet as well. Add the extra marinade to the veggies.
- Roast for about 24 to 26 minutes, turning the tempeh and stirring the vegetables halfway through. Top quinoa with roasted tempeh and veggies. Enjoy!