We all know that our bodies require plenty of protein in order to maximize our muscle-building and recovery efforts. The usual advice is to buy and eat a ton of meat – simple, right? But what if you don’t want to eat a ton of meat? What if it wreaks havoc with your digestion? What if you’re vegetarian? Or what if you simply can’t afford 200g of meat-based protein every day? Well, look no further, because I’ve got you covered. This article is all about 5 ways to get protein without eating meat.
One of my favorite sources of protein is the simple egg. Not only are they super-versatile and easy to cook, but each medium egg contains about 6 grams of protein. If you have three or four eggs in a meal, you’ve got 18 to 24 grams of high-quality protein right there.
Eggs are also a good source of B vitamins, including vitamin B12, which is essential for non-meat diets as B12 is only available from animal-based protein sources.
Top tip: If you’re cooking a basic stir fry, add 3 or 4 eggs to your rice and stir to make egg fried rice.
2. Protein shakes
An all-time bodybuilder and athlete favorite, protein shakes are one of the simplest, easiest, and cheapest ways to get protein into your diet.
Sources of protein shake powders range from whey (a by-product of the cheese production process) to pea and hemp. This means that both vegetarians and vegans can find a protein shake product to suit their dietary needs.
An average serving of around 30g contains between 18g and 27g of protein depending on the type of protein and the manufacturer.
Protein shakes are also super-convenient because of how flexible they are. If you have the shake with water, it’ll come in at around 100kcal, which is handy if you’re trying to lose weight by keeping calories down. On the other hand, if you have the shake with full-fat milk and throw in a couple of scoops of peanut butter, you can easily get in an extra 500kcal, which is super-handy if you’re trying to build muscle!
Beans are one of the most underrated sources of protein in the world, yet a single can of baked beans (approx. 400g) contains about 24g of protein.
And baked beans are actually one of the lowest-protein beans. Pinto beans, for example, have 21g of protein per 100g! So a can of those would give you 84g of protein.
It’s a similar story for kidney beans, which give you 24g of protein per 100g. Most cans give you about 250g of beans when drained, meaning you get about 65g of protein per can.
Definitely not a great protein option if you’re on a diet, but if you’re trying to gain weight, nuts are a great choice. 100g of mixed nuts will give you about 20g of protein, as well as a whopping 600kcal!
You’ve got the added bonus of various vitamins and minerals – for example, almonds are a good source of vitamin E, Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium, and cashew nuts are a good source of magnesium.
In the past, I’ve eaten them throughout the day as a snack, sometimes with raisins. My top tip is to try to get the unsalted and unroasted versions where possible, as you want to avoid all the extra processed fat and salt (although the occasional bag of roasted nuts won’t be a problem)!
5. Soya-based meat substitutes
Products like Quorn have become increasingly popular, with various other companies and manufacturers getting in on the growing market. It won’t be long before most major supermarkets are stocking their own-brand versions of soya-based meat substitutes.
With options like meat-free chicken, mince, sausages, meatballs, and burgers already available, there’s a huge range for you to try.
100g usually gives you between 10g and 20g of protein depending on the type, plus since pretty much every product can be cooked from frozen they’re super-easy to prepare.
An incredibly high-protein meal suggestion
Eggs on sausages on beans on toast! It works, trust me. Cook up two meat-free sausages and two medium-sized eggs. Heat up a full can of beans in the microwave and serve on top of three or four slices of toasted bread. Boom!
Not only does it only take about 10 minutes to make, but it packs a sneaky 50g of protein. Plus, if you enjoy it with a protein shake you might even get that total up to 70g!
No excuses for not hitting your macros
Don’t be one of those people who complains that they can’t grow muscle but refuses to track their protein intake. Keep a simple diary and record what you’re eating throughout the day.
- Breakfast – 4 eggs on toast. 30g protein
- Snack 1 – mixed nuts and fruit. 10g protein
- Lunch – meat-free chicken salad. 20g protein
- Snack 2 – double serving protein shake. 50g protein
- Dinner – meat-free mince chilli with kidney beans. 50g protein
- Snack 3 – mixed nuts. 10g protein
Total protein for day: 170 grams.
Time to build some meat-free muscle!
There you go. If you’ve stuck with this article all the way through, you now know five different ways to get protein into your diet without eating meat. You also know how to spread those meals out and keep track of them in order to make sure you reach your protein requirements.
Which protein sources have you tried?