The Institute of Medicine advises that adults consume a minimum of 8 grams of protein per 20 pounds of body weight daily. In addition to being present in nearly every part of the body, protein-based enzymes are essential for fueling many crucial chemical processes. While the body is capable of making some amino acids "from scratch," essential amino acids must be obtained through food. Meat provides a natural source of essential amino acids, but recent research shows that choosing the right plant-based meals can get you all the protein you need--without the extra saturated fat and sodium. Here are some of the best high protein foods to look to incorporate into your vegetarian or vegan breakfast:
Great Whole Grains
From whole grain pastas to whole wheat breads and brown rice, dieticians and nutritionists alike have taken a renewed interest in the value of consuming these essential staple foods. Minimal processing preserves the high fiber and natural protein content without adding extra fats, sodium, or sugars. In addition to whole-grained oatmeal, consider breakfast grains such as:
- Wheat berries
- Bulgur wheat
- Bran-based cold cereals
Dress up your cereals with a few almonds, some fruit, and some soy milk to enjoy increased protein without going overboard on calories. In addition to a high protein content, the extra fiber in these whole grains can also help you to feel full longer--perfect for getting a lasting energy boost in the mornings.
Soy-Based Meatless Products
While most everyone is familiar by now with veggie burgers and tofu dogs, the increasing awareness of the value of plant-based proteins has created something of a soy revolution in the grocery isle. Soy beans make a particularly excellent meat replacement because they are one of the only plants that provide a complete protein profile--containing high amounts of essential amino acids as well as extra calcium, iron, folic acid, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Consider some of these vegan breakfast options when prepping your next protein-packed breakfast:
- Soy-based breakfast sausages and patties
- Extra-firm tofu for scrambles and breakfast burritos
- Tofu eggs
- Ground meatless meats
- Silken tofu as a naturally low-fat yogurt substitute in smoothies
As with whole grains, soy-based products also help you to feel fuller for longer than many foods with a less impressive nutritional profile.
Protein-Packed Nut Butters
Nuts have gotten a lot of attention recently for being a healthful source of protein and good-for-your poly-and monounsaturated fats. While nuts are quite high in calories, it only takes a small serving of these protein-packed snacks to get a great source of lasting energy. The following seed and nuts provide especially good nutrition:
- Sunflower seeds
In addition to pre-made nut and seed butters that taste great on a little toast or mixed in with your oatmeal, some quick toasting and a high-speed food processor is all you need to start making your own healthy spreads at home.
Starting Your Day With a Heart-Healthy Breakfast
As current research continues to focus on the health benefits of plant-based proteins, more and more individuals are looking to boosting their breakfast with whole grains, power-packed nuts, and protein-rich meatless products to get their essential daily nutrients.