When it comes to the essential nutritents your body needs, protein tops the list. From repairing muscle to supplying energy, it's key to keeping you going strong. As spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Toby Smithson, RD, says, "Protein is the jack of all trades in the body."
Let’s say you’re looking to tone your arms and build some biceps, for instance: Protein is going to be a major player in your diet. Every time you eat a protein-rich meal or snack, your body breaks down the protein into what’s called amino acids. Those amino acids enter your bloodstream and eventually get absorbed by tissues or muscles. Once it’s absorbed into those cells, the amino acids start to form again—building a bigger muscle.
Because it has such an important function in the body, we need a fair share of protein every single day. The current recommendation is .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, but research shows that as much as 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram may be better to stave off age-related muscle loss. Translation: if you’re 130 lbs, you should aim for about 90 grams of protein on a daily basis.
Here’s the issue: The primary sources of protein in a typical American’s diet are common meat products like chicken, beef, and pork. If you’re trying to dial down your daily meat intake or have crossed animal products off your grocery list for good, it can be a struggle finding ways to get all the protein you need. That is, if you don’t know where to look. Try these 10 excellent sources of protein that are 100% vegetarian friendly.