Are you caught in the vegetarian dilemma, wondering if your protein intake stacks up against non-veg options?
Let’s debunk some myths and dive deeper to learn some tips and tricks to get optimal protein from a vegetarian diet.
Busting the Myth Once & for All
First things first, the age-old debate: is vegetarian protein enough? Absolutely!
It’s a common misconception that only non-veg proteins like meat, fish, and eggs can fulfil our protein needs. Vegetarian sources, including dairy products, lentils, chickpeas, beans, soy products, and nuts, are not just sufficient; they are also fantastic for your health.
High-protein vegetarian foods are heart-friendly and can even reduce the risk of obesity and certain cancers. Even sports enthusiasts are now embracing veg protein options for their dietary needs owing to their many health benefits. However, this is not to imply that non-vegetarian protein is averse to your health. Both non-vegetarian and vegetarian protein have their own set of benefits and appeal to different groups of people.
One of the main reasons for the popularity of non-vegetarian protein is its bioavailability, because of which it gets readily absorbed. However, guess what? You can also make you veg protein highly bioavailable with just a few tweaks in cooking methods and challenge the people who have been telling you that it isn’t enough.
How to Maximize Vegetarian Protein Absorption – Tips and Tricks
- Pair well with grains: While rice contains low levels of lysine but excellent levels of cysteine and methionine, dal contains just the opposite profile, making them complementary partners for a full amino acid profile. Therefore, start eating khichdi or dal chawal for a high-protein vegetarian diet. But don’t forget to add a dollop of ghee on top of your khichdi or dal chawal.
- Sign up for sprouting: Sprouting legumes such as chana, moong, moth beans, etc., helps enhance their protein quality. You may make a delicious chaat from these sprouted legumes, add them as toppings on top of poha or use them in a salad.
- Incorporate good fats: Good fats, when added with protein, make it more digestible, and one of the best fats is undoubtedly ghee. So start including a dollop of ghee in your protein-rich dal now – not less, not more, just ideally optimal!
- Love your dairy: Dairy is an essential player in the vegetarian protein league. It doesn’t only include milk, paneer, curd and buttermilk but also muscle-building whey water and the extremely nutritious chenna. However, make sure to procure your dairy products from good, reliable sources and prefer desi cow or buffalo milk and milk-derived products.
Use chenna water while cooking dal or kneading dough for an extra protein kick.
- Incorporate protein-rich seasonal foods: There are numerous seasonal foods packed with protein, such as green peas and sattu. Include these foods in your diet in an optimal quantity.
Also, make sure to consume dal according to season. For example, in winter, opt for urad dal or urad dal mixed with arhar dal, as they act as aphrodisiacs. But don’t forget to add tadka to it.
Sattu is a summer food and is best consumed as a drink. However, if you wish to have sattu in winter, you may do so by using it as a filling for your paratha.
- Master your legume cooking: You must soak your dal and other legumes well, and then cook them with digestive spices like ginger, turmeric, hing and cumin. Also, you must ensure that your legumes are fully cooked and don’t remain undercooked.
Make sure to remove water after boiling rajma as it has toxins in it. Doing this can significantly enhance the bioavailability of rajma.
- Consume your nuts & seeds correctly: Nuts and seeds are nature’s protein-packed snacks, but how you eat them is crucial. During winter, you should roast them in ghee, while during summer, you should soak them for a few hours or overnight for enhanced bioavailability.
Are Supplements Still Needed?
If you are following the above-mentioned tips and eating a balanced diet every day, we don’t think you will need supplements for protein. Your gut health also plays a key role in this regard. If your gut health is good, the conversion of nutrients becomes easy, and since protein is a hard-to-break nutrient, having good gut health is essential. However, despite everything, if you still need supplements due to a medical condition or to attain a specific health goal, then whey protein supplements may be beneficial.
But remember that it’s essential to use supplements judiciously. Always take them under the guidance of a dietitian or healthcare provider to avoid excess intake and potential adverse effects.
Bringing it All Together
Navigating the protein world as a vegetarian can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. With a variety of sources and smart cooking methods, you can enjoy a high-protein vegetarian diet that’s both delicious and nutritious.
And if you are looking for tailored advice on vegetarian proteins and more, there are experts out there, like Dt Luna Jaiswal at Addlife, a renowned nutritionist in India, who can guide you through your nutrition journey with ease and expertise.
Remember, the right diet is about balance, variety, and enjoying what you eat while nourishing your body. Here’s to a healthier, protein-rich vegetarian lifestyle!