But where do you get your protein?
Active, sporty people need it. Non-athletes do too. Growing children, young people as well as breastfeeding mothers need more of it. But absolutely nobody can survive without it. We’re talking about proteins, without which virtually nothing in our body would work: they are the fundamental building blocks for life; the foundation of all our muscles and tissue, organs and blood. Even our hormones and enzymes are built from it. Proteins are made up of 20 amino acids, some of which the human body can produce by itself.
How much protein do we need?
Like fats and carbohydrates, proteins are what is known as a macro nutrient. But how much protein does our body actually need per day to stay fit and productive? Of course, this depends on a variety of factors: physical activity, size and body weight among them. As a guideline, the German Nutrition Society (“Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung”, DGE) recommends a daily intake of 0.8 g protein per kilo of body weight for adults. For someone weighing 60 kilos, this is roughly around 48 g protein per day. In the body, proteins are constantly being broken down and built up, and – unlike carbohydrates and fats – cannot be stored directly.
Nutrition myths and fact checks
A quick look at what proteins do reveals just why they are so vital: for one thing, they are responsible for building up and regenerating muscles, helping to repair them after strenuous exercise and supplying new muscle mass with nutrients. No protein, no muscles – so far, so good. But proteins also take care of keeping our skin, hair and nails healthy, and are involved in cell generation, immune defense and a functioning metabolism. Our brain also needs protein to get into gear: the amino acids act as messengers and are important elements in the flow of information. Clever little things, these proteins!
However, the idea that we absolutely have to get them from animal sources is as erroneous as the idea that you can’t have too much protein. Plant proteins provide all the vital amino acids and are by no means a second-class protein. As these amino acids occur in chia seeds, soy beans, lentils, etc. in different concentrations, a colorful mix of plant foods is highly recommended. With a balanced diet, it’s easy to cover your daily protein requirement. However, be careful not to overdo it with your protein intake: things can turn sour if you eat too much of it, as excess consumption puts a strain on our kidneys.
The best protein sources at a glance
If we’re talking about plant protein power, the first thought in many people’s heads is pulses. But the range of foods with extra protein content is actually much broader than just that:
- Hemp seeds (33 g protein per 100 g)
- Peanut kernels (22 g protein per 100 g)
- Red lentils (25.4 g protein per 100 g)
- Kidney beans (21 g protein per 100 g)
- Almonds (18 g protein per 100 g)
- Quinoa (14.7 g protein per 100 g)
- Amaranth (14.3 g protein per 100 g)
- Spelt flakes (14.2 g protein per 100 g)
So if you want to know whether you can in fact cover your daily protein requirement with a plant-based diet, the answer is: Yes, absolutely!