We all know how much we need protein. Protein is important in growing teens, especially us physically active ones.* But, how much is too much? How much is too little? What happens if I do get too much or too little? What foods can I eat to increase my protein intake?
On my journey to becoming a Healthy Teen, I was having difficulty finding the answers to these questions along with good sources of protein besides those good ol' bean burritos. Through my research, I realized there are plenty of tasty high-protein foods and easy-to-make meals.
A common myth is that vegetarians and vegans can't get enough protein. This just isn't true! As a vegetarian or vegan, you can easily get enough protein by consuming these foods.
Hopefully, the information I found for myself will help you too. Even if you aren't a vegetarian or vegan, you should try these amazing options!
*A quick and easy way to calculate your protein intake is to multiply your average body weight in pounds by 0.8. If you are physically active, just eat your body weight in grams of protein per day.
Beans are super high in protein and can be used in so many different meals. Beans are one of the slowest absorbing carbohydrates because of their high fiber content. Try to substitute high-fat meat for beans. You can also add them to salads, soups, and dips. Of course, there are also numerous kinds of beans: black, pinto, kidney, white, red, etc...
Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
Garbanzo beans are another great thing to put in salads, dips, and soups. They are very high in protein and fiber, and full of nutrients! They have 11 grams of plant-based protein and 10 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving but with only 210 calories.
Tofu is made of compressed soy milk. While it might sound a bit strange, tofu is a great thing to put in soups, salads, and just about anything else. It is high in protein with 8 grams per 3-ounce serving. Tofu also is fortified with lots of calcium boasting 10% of your daily intake per serving!
Another benefit of tofu is its low amount of calories; it only has 80 per serving. It also has very little fat, with 3 grams per serving (0.5 being saturated). All in all, tofu is a very nutritious, tasty, low-calorie food that will help you easily meet your daily protein goals!
Tempeh is fermented soybeans, which may seem weird, but is actually super tasty and good for you. Tempeh has lots of protein with 18 grams per 3-ounce serving along with 6 grams of fiber. Tempeh has fewer calories and fat compared to steak, with 160 calories and 4.5 grams of fat (0.5 saturated) per 3-ounce serving versus 230 calories and 15 grams of fat (6 being saturated-bad fat) in the same serving of steak.
Tempeh and tofu both can be sliced, crumbled, chopped, bbq'd, broiled, baked, souped… well, you get the picture. Tempeh is very versatile and used for a variety of different recipes. One cup chopped (which is about 6 ounces) contains about 320 calories and a ton of nutrients.
Farro is a type of whole grain made from many different types of wheat species. Farro is an excellent source of protein with an amazing 6 grams in a 1/4 cup (1.8 oz) serving! It also has lots of fiber, with 5 grams per 1/4 cup serving. Farro is an extremely nutritious grain with lots of magnesium, zinc, and some B vitamins.
Farro is a much healthier alternative to white rice or other refined grains. The glycemic index of Farro is 45 compared to white rice, which is 89, meaning it affects your blood sugar much less. Overall it is an awesome grain to put in salads, soups, and other healthy recipes.
Here is a chart to compare the nutrition information of the above-mentioned foods. Check out tempeh (P.S. It rocks!).
*A regular serving of these beans would most likely be double.
**The amounts shown are for a regular ¼ cup serving of farro (1.8 oz).
***You would likely have double this amount in a serving of rice.