Meat sources aren’t the only protein sources that can serve as high-protein dishes on their own. Sticking to a plant-based or vegan diet doesn’t have to mean filling up on protein shakes to make up for the protein you’re missing from animal sources. Anyone who is focusing on their health and fitness for weight loss or bodybuilding should be eating a clean and high-protein diet, including lots of vegetables. The best way to increase your vegetable intake is to incorporate them into every meal, even breakfast, which isn’t hard to do if you know exactly which vegetables you should be eating. High protein foods promote weight loss and muscle building at the same time, the perfect recipe for getting a toned look. Eating more vegetables and vegan protein sources will also help increase your energy levels and make you feel better naturally.
Vegetables might not usually be considered a good protein source, but combined with healthy amino acids from whole grains, you’ll eating a well balanced and complete diet. You can eat your vegetables a variety of ways, from roasted vegetables to raw vegetables, any way you like them as long as you’re eating them. Low carb vegetables are always the best option, like all of the high protein vegetables on this list to help promote weight loss.
Here are 10 High Protein Vegetables for Bodybuilding and Weight Loss
Soybeans contain the highest level of protein compared to other beans, with 28 grams of protein per cooked cup. That’s equivalent to the protein found in 150 grams of chicken. There are two complete sources of plant protein, soybeans, and quinoa, so soybeans are an important staple in plant-based diets. Soybeans also have several other healthy nutrients including 17 grams of carbs and 15 grams of fats. They also provide a source of insoluble fiber to promote digestive health, and unsaturated fat to promote cardiovascular health.
Tiny edamame pods pack a hearty protein punch. You’ve probably eaten them as a side at a Japanese restaurant without realizing their protein-rich benefits. Edamame is actually immature soybeans that have been cooked in their pod. They contain 22 grams of protein per cup, and paired with your main protein dish will provide you with almost all of the 30 recommended grams of protein at every meal.
All legumes provide a great vegan protein source, but lentils are the best of the bunch. Containing 18 grams of protein per cup cooked at only 230 calories per serving, lentils make a great side dish for anyone trying to cut back on calories. Lentils also provide a good source of dietary fiber and high amounts of micronutrients folate, phosphorus, iron, and thiamin. They can be eaten on a cold salad, throw into soup, and molded into protein-rich, meat-free patties.
This popular superfood is also a great source of protein. Green vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and this dark leafy green is a healthy protein-rich vegetable that should be included in every athlete’s diet. With 3 grams of protein per half cup of spinach, it makes a great addition to smoothies or as a side dish for lunch and dinner.
Kale is an even better superfood choice than spinach, and it can be added to almost anything. Add kale to your diet for its fiber, protein, thiamin, folate, iron, magnesium, and vitamin contents, amongst a number of other beneficial micronutrients. Containing 3 grams of protein per cup, kale is a great option for throwing into soups, salads, casseroles, smoothies, etc. as a major protein and nutrient boost.
These mini tree-looking cruciferous vegetables provide an excellent source of fat-free protein for muscle gains. One cup of broccoli contains 2.6 grams of protein and 100 percent of the daily recommended vitamin C and K intake. Broccoli is also a good source of folate, a vitamin shown to decrease the risk of certain cancers. No matter how it’s prepared, cooked or raw, broccoli makes a great main menu item. Add it to salads, soups, or simply steam it and add a squeeze of lemon juice on top.
With 9 grams of protein per cup and 5.5 grams of fiber, peas also provide a good source of vitamin A, C, phosphorus, thiamin, and iron. Peas also contain high amounts of folate and B vitamins to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Add peas to your salads, as a side with chicken, or toss them into a pasta dish on high-carb days.
Asparagus is a major dietary staple for its diuretic properties that help decrease water retention to aid in weight loss, and it’s also a protein-rich vegetable with 2.4 grams of protein per 100 grams of asparagus. The high fiber content in asparagus will fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied long after eating. It is the number one plant source of vitamin K, and a good source of antioxidants and potassium.
One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains more than 5 grams of protein, which is more than half of the protein found in one egg. Pumpkin seeds are also associated with lower levels of gastric, lung, breast, and colorectal cancer. Pumpkin seeds are antioxidant-rich to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and contain L-tryptophan which is a great sleep aid. Load up on pumpkin seeds alone as a snack, added into granola, or on top of salads.
There are 2.5 grams of protein in one cup of cooked bean sprouts, and they are also packed with lecithin (for lowering cholesterol) and zinc (a mineral for optimizing physical performance). Add bean sprouts into your veggie stir fry, as a topping on sandwiches, or to give a little crunch to your salads. There are a wide variety of sprouts you can try, all high in protein and healthy minerals. Mix whatever variety is available for a delicious addition to any meal.