Can I get enough protein eating a plant-based diet?
DO YOU EAT A SUPER HEALTHY DIET, LIKE PRITIKIN, THAT IS MOSTLY PLANT FOODS LIKE FRUITS, VEGETABLES, WHOLE GRAINS, AND BEANS? CONGRATULATIONS!
But are you wondering about your protein requirements, and if you’re getting enough protein? Here’s guidance from the physicians and dietitians at the Pritikin Longevity Center, experts in nutrition and healthy living.
Absolutely. First of all, keep in mind that the protein requirement for humans is highest in infancy. Adults need a much smaller percentage of their calories from protein than infants do, and even infants don’t need that much.
“Most people are surprised to learn that human breast milk, certainly ideal for infants, is actually lower in protein (only about 6 to 7% of calories) than most whole grains, vegetables, and even some fruits,” notes Jay Kenney, PhD, RD, Nutrition Research Specialist at the Pritikin Longevity Center.
“If a higher protein intake is desired, there are plenty of excellent protein sources in the vegetable world, including legumes, such as edamame [young soybeans], lentils, and all other beans like pinto, garbanzo, and black beans, as well as peas. Also, tofu works as a great protein source,” recommends Tom Rifai, MD, FACP, member of the Pritikin Scientific Advisory Board and Medical Director of Metabolic Nutrition & Weight Management at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Michigan.
Protein and Satiety
Protein is vital. Recent evidence, including the OmniHeart Trial,1 shows that including more healthier sources of protein – vegetable as well as animal sources – may help provide more satiety per calorie, which means that healthy, protein-rich foods can help us curb appetite and feel full, but at a low calorie cost. That’s important because it can help people, particularly those with the metabolic syndrome, lose excess weight, better control their cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve insulin sensitivity.