Q: What’s the best source of protein for a vegetarian?
A: A vegetarian diet can help you control your weight and lower your cholesterol, but you can’t just drop meat and fish—a key source of protein—without a plan. Your body needs protein to build muscle and maintain a strong immune system. It’s important to get about 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight a day. The good news: There are many vegetarian-friendly foods that are high in protein. Some healthy options include:
- Grains (quinoa, rice, whole grain cereals)
- Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, soybeans)
- Nuts and seeds
- Dairy products (eggs, milk, cheese, Greek yogurt)
Even if you include the foods above in your diet, you may find you’re unable to exercise as hard when following a vegetarian diet. This is likely due to a lack of creatine, an organic compound produced in the body and found in meat and fish, which helps muscles recover and can help build strength. If you find you’re lacking energy, add more protein to your diet and talk to your doctor or dietitian about creatine supplements.
About The Author
– Amanda Carlson-Phillips is the vice president of nutrition and research at EXOS. As a registered dietitian, she has provided educational seminars and individual counseling to a variety of professional and elite sports organizations.
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