Protein is one of our major macronutrients. Recall, carbohydrates, fats and proteins are macronutrients, this is where the body gets energy from. But why do we even need protein in our diets anyways? While carbohydrates and fats can provide us with energy, proteins are the main building blocks of our bodies. Proteins make up muscles, tissues, organs and cells. Proteins can be enzymes, hormones or even neurotransmitters. Without proteins we wouldn’t be able to breakdown fats or carbohydrates to produce energy. They are just that important!
Some may assume or think that meat is the only source of protein, but alas I am here to tell you about three other options (excluding the dark leafy green vegetables) that are great sources of protein that DO NOT come from animals! In addition, they are all low glycemic index foods, so they won’t spike blood sugar levels.
INTRODUCING: TOFU, TEMPEH & SEITAN
Tofu is made from coagulating or curdling soybeans and then pressing the curds into blocks. It is a great substitute to meat as it takes on the flavours of any dish that is added to. Tofu comes in different varieties, which just adds to its many unique properties. If you are looking to use it in a smoothie or to mimic scrambled eggs, than the silken tofu is best. But if you wanted to use it in a stir fry than a firm texture would be your better bet. The amount of protein in a serving of tofu is dependent on the tofu variety and ranges from 10-20g of protein.
Another non meat protein source derived from soybeans. However, tempeh is not made by curdling soybeans, it is made from fermenting them. Consuming fermented foods actually has many great health benefits such as:
- Helps to maintain the balance of acid production in your stomach.
- Can help the body in the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps to activate skeletal muscles.
- Decreases stress on the pancreas, because the lactic acid in fermented foods already pre-digests foods, therefore placing less demand on your pancreas.
- Fermented foods help to support your natural gut flora.
A one cup serving of tempeh contains 31g of protein and an abundant of vitamins and minerals the body needs.
Seitan is not a soybean product, it is derived from wheat gluten and sometimes even referred to as “wheat meat”. Great for those who are trying to avoid soybean products, but not a good option for those who are gluten intolerant or have gluten sensitivities. Seitan is made by washing wheat flour dough leaving behind an elastic type compound that is cooked before consumption . It has a very similar look and texture to meat and like tofu it can take on the taste of whatever seasonings you are using in your dish. A one ounce serving of seitan contains 21g of protein, 4g of carbohydrates .
Best in Health,