Plant Based Protein Sources

So with a new year comes new eating habits. One of my biggest goals for 2019 nutrition wise is to eat a more plant-based diet. You see – I love meat. Primarily, red meat to that effect. It is not uncommon for me to eat 3 burgers in a week while most people don’t eat that many in a month. So I promise you I will not be giving up my burgers or egg-roll-in-a-bowls or anything to that matter! However, I don’t think anyone will argue with me that we can all benefit from eating MORE plants (and for most, myself including) and LESS meat. Health wise it can be of enormous value – not to mention what it can do for our environment. So, rather than focus on what I cannot eat, I will be focusing on all the awesome things I will be adding to my diet.

Some people believe one of the biggest challenges in following a plant-based diet is meeting their daily protein needs. I tend to disagree as it is scarce for me to see ANYONE (plant-based eater or not!) consume a diet that is low in protein. But I digress.

Vegetarians and vegans typically consume 10-14% of their calories from protein compared with non-vegetarians who usually consume 14-18% of their total calories from protein. Dietary protein needs can be adequately met in a plant-based meal plan, but it requires meal planning. Meeting your daily protein goals is very important. A lack of protein in the diet can result in loss of lean body mass, hair loss, skin rashes, decreased immunity, and lethargy. The RDA for protein intake is 0.8g/kg of body weight. If you train regularly – which most of you do – then I would say to raise this requirement to 1.2 – 1.4 g/kg of body weight.

Typical protein sources in a plant-based diet include legumes, soy products, nuts, and nut butter, seeds, eggs, dairy products, and meat analogs. The difference in sources of vegetarian protein and animal protein is that vegetable protein is not as absorbable. This means that a variety of plant foods should be eaten throughout the day to provide adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids. It is not necessary to try to pair together complementary proteins if a variety of plant foods are consumed throughout the day.

Thinking of joining me and eating a more plant-based diet? But overwhelmed? Think you might be missing out on that valuable protein to feed those muscles? I got you covered! Below is a list of common plant-based foods and their respective protein content. Please note while I do include nuts and seeds as a source of protein, I personally tend to consider these foods more of a fat than a protein. That is not to say you cannot consume them to help you hit your protein goals. I just rather you get the bulk from eggs, dairy, and beans. When purchasing soy – ALWAYS buy products labeled as “Organic” to ensure it is not genetically modified.

Plant-Based Protein Sources

Food Amount Grams of Protein

Egg 1 large 6

Milk 1 cup 8

Low-fat cheese 1 ounce 7

Greek yogurt 5.3-ounce container 15

Low-fat cottage cheese 1 cup 25

Tempeh 1 cup 31

Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 29

Lentils, cooked 1 cup 18

Black beans, cooked 1 cup 15

Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 15

Chickpeas, cooked 1 cup 15

Pinto beans, cooked 1 cup 15

Lima beans, cooked 1 cup 15

Black-eyed peas, cooked 1 cup 13

Veggie burger 1 patty 13

Veggie baked beans 1 cup 12

Tofu, firm 4 ounces 11

Tofu, regular 4 ounces 10

Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 8

Peas, cooked 1 cup 8

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), cooked 1/2 cup 8

Peanut butter 2 Tbsp 8

Veggie dog 1 link 8

Almonds 1/4 cup 8

Soy milk, commercial, plain 1 cup 7

Whole wheat bread 2 slices 7

Almond butter 2 Tbsp 7

Soy yogurt, plain 8 ounces 6

Bulgur, cooked 1 cup 6

Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 6

Cashews 1/4 cup 5

Spinach, cooked 1 cup 5

Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 4

Brazil nuts 1 ounce 4

Chia seeds 1 ounce 4

Fava beans, cooked ½ cup 7

Flaxseeds 1 ounce 5

Hazelnuts 1 ounce 4

Hemp seeds, shelled 1 ounce 9

Macadamia nuts 1 ounce 2

Peanuts 1 ounce 7

Pecans 1 ounce 3

Pine nuts 1 ounce 4

Pistachios 1 ounce 6

Pumpkin seeds 1 ounce 7

Sesame seeds 1 ounce 5

Walnuts 1 ounce 4

Whey Protein 1 scoop 24

Walnuts 1 ounce 4


Got questions? All this plant-based talk got you confused? Don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at or better yet head over to to schedule a one-one nutrition visit. Cheers to your healthiest year yet!


Hugs & High Fives,


Amy Plano, Registered Dietitian