One of the primary benefits of plant-based protein foods for weight loss is that plant based protein foods are low in saturated fats, high in fiber and micronutrients to cleanse the liver and support the body’s various functions.
Plant-based protein sources such as dried beans that store well are inexpensive protein sources compared to animal protein. Unless your hunting for your food which is not very likely these days. Animal protein sources are also high in saturated fats, which increase insulin resistance, making weight loss more difficult.
The fiber found in high protein plant foods such as vegetables, legumes, and whole grains slows down glucose absorption for normal blood sugar levels. Healthy blood sugar levels are crucial for weight loss and preventing type 2 diabetes from developing.
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Protein is an essential part of a nutritious diet for staying healthy. You can find plant-based protein foods in more budget-friendly foods such as lentils, beans, peas, frozen, or fresh vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. These foods are also suitable for lowering blood sugar levels for weight loss.
Some key benefits of plant-based protein include the following:
- Protein is required to maintain and grow body tissues
- Protein is a primary component of our muscles, hair, nails, skin, eyes, and internal organs, such as our heart which is a muscle that pumps blood day in and day out to keep us alive
- Protein makes up hemoglobin which is our oxygen-carrying red blood cell
- Protein also makes up hormones such as the thyroid hormone, which regulates our metabolism, and the hormone insulin, which transports glucose to maintain blood sugar balance.
- Enzymes in the body are made up of protein and are responsible for catalyzing chemical reactions in the body, such as the MTHFR gene, responsible for converting folate into methyl folate, which is passed along the enzymatic chain of other reactions.
As you can see, protein plays a vital role in maintaining optimal health and the function of various systems, so we need to obtain protein through the diet.
When people think of protein, the first things that come to mind are animal protein such as meat, cheese, and eggs. It may surprise people that many vegetables are high in protein and grains, legumes, and beans.
Plant based protein foods vs animal protein for weight loss
Plant based protein foods are better than animal protein sources for weight loss as plant based protein foods are low in saturated fats, unlike animal protein. Saturated fats increase insulin resistance and contribute to the fatty liver.
Reversing and preventing insulin resistance and fatty liver is crucial for weight loss. For this reason, a benefit of plant based protein foods for weight loss is due to plant foods being low in saturated fats.
But, what are proteins exactly, why is protein important, and what are the essential amino acids?
Proteins are complex molecules made up of a combination of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.
The essential amino acids are:
The non-essential amino acids are:
- Aspartic Acid
- Glutamic Acid
The conditionally essential amino acids are:
An essential amino acid means the body cannot make that amino acid, whereas the non-essential and conditionally can be made by the body.
The diet must supply the essential amino acids. However, it is still vital to get the non-essential amino acids through the diet since the body may not be able to make a non-essential amino acid due to another deficiency in the body.
Complete protein sources containing all the essential amino acids include beef, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt, which is why we always think of these as high protein foods. These foods are also high in inflammatory saturated fats that contribute to insulin resistance and thus weight gain. A low saturated fat plant based diet is the best diet to reverse insulin resistance and lose weight.
Vegetables, beans, and some grains also contain many essential amino acids. Still, they may be low in a couple, so a wide variety of plant-based protein foods must be consumed for a vegan or vegetarian looking for plant-based protein sources for weight loss.
The following vegetables are excellent protein sources for weight loss, reversing insulin resistance, and cleansing the liver. Many people are worried that they wont get enough protein if they don’t eat animal foods but the following list of plant based protein foods may surprise you.
Vegetables high in protein include:
- Sprouted alfalfa seeds – 42% protein
- White mushrooms – 37% protein
- Chinese Cabbage – 32% protein
- Asparagus – 27% protein
- Broccoli – 26% protein
- Cauliflower – 20 % protein
- Brussel Sprouts – 19% protein
- Spinach – 26% protein
Grains high in protein include:
- Quinoa – 15% protein
- Spelt – 15%
- Buckwheat – 13%
Legumes, beans, and peas high in protein include:
- Lentils – 29%
- Broadbeans – 27%
- Peanuts – 16%
- Soybeans – 30%
- Kidney Beans – 27%
- Pinto Beans – 25%
- Black Beans – 22%
- Chickpeas – 19%
- Green peas – 23%
(pretty much beans of any type are a great source of protein)
Additional plant-based protein foods include:
- Hemp seeds – 23%
- Spirulina – 48%
- Tofu – 35%
- Tempeh – 33%
There are so many benefits of plant based protein, including:
- low in saturated fats
- high in antioxidants and phytonutrients that are anti-inflammatory
- high in fiber for gut health, normal blood sugar levels, and weight loss
- better for the environment (especially hemp seeds)
A massive benefit of plant based protein foods for weight loss comes from the antioxidants found in plants that help to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is an underlying cause of weight gain and insulin resistance.
Animal protein sources are high in inflammatory saturated fats that promote weight gain and inflammation. Substituting animal protein for plant based protein sources is better for weight loss and reversing insulin resistance. Saturated fats are also high in calories compared to plant sources of protein.
Low calorie foods that are high in micronutrients are the best foods for weight loss. Vegetables, legumes and whole grains provide protein, vitamins, anti-oxidants and phytonutrients that are all beneficial for weight loss.
These homemade veggie burgers are made with black beans, quinoa, and mushrooms as the primary protein source and have been a staple in my life for years now. Make a big batch and freeze the remainder for quick and easy dinners on follow-up nights.
This nutritious creamy broccoli salad is another excellent recipe high in plant-based protein.
Making a homemade chili with beans is a great protein source and will go a long way in times of budgeting.
Adding a tbsp of pea protein powder which is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids, into a smoothie in the morning is another great way to ensure you are getting adequate protein in your diet. This simple smoothie recipe contains hemp seeds and pea protein powder for a delicious smoothie for weight loss with plant based protein foods.
These high-protein pancakes have been my new favorite breakfast recipe that I have been enjoying on cold winter days.
Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson M. Haas
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