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Protein is the building block of life, and when it comes to fitness and strength training, protein intake becomes even more crucial. Protein-rich foods are essential for developing, maintaining and replenishing muscles, aiding in recovery, and boosting energy levels after workouts. Whether you’re a dedicated athlete or simply looking to improve your overall health, incorporating plant-based protein sources into your diet can provide the necessary nutrients to support muscle growth and endurance.
When it comes to sustaining energy levels, supporting muscle health, and maintaining overall well-being, plant-based protein sources are indispensable. These foods not only offer essential nutrients but also provide sustainable options that are beneficial for both our bodies and the planet. Let’s delve into five such plant-based protein powerhouses, recommended by experts for their taste and exceptional nutritional benefits.
Pulses and Lentils
Pulses and lentils are not only a protein-rich food but also boast an impressive array of essential nutrients. Their high protein content, combined with their abundance of fiber, iron, and folate, makes them an ideal choice for supporting muscle repair, energy production, and overall well-being. Be it simple dals, soups, salads or the main course, lentils provide a satisfying and nutritious addition to any meal plan, making them a staple in vegetarian diets and a versatile ingredient for those seeking to boost their protein intake through plant-based sources.
Soya Chunks
Soya chunks emerge as a plant-based protein powerhouse, perfect for revitalizing the body, supporting muscle health and sustainable to planet also. Created with high quality complete protein with PDCAAS equal to animal sources, and fiber content and minimal fat, they make an excellent choice for vegetarians. The use of Super Soft and Tasty Soya Chunks ensures a tender and juicy texture, elevating the overall taste. Integrating Soya Chunks into your meals not only makes them delicious but also boosts quality protein content which helps in enhancing muscle strength and increasing energy levels. They are also good source of phytochemicals acting as anti-inflammatory agents.
Chickpeas
Chickpeas, renowned for their versatility and nutritional benefits, are not only a protein-rich food but also a valuable source of fiber. This combination aids in muscle strength and recovery while promoting a feeling of fullness, making chickpeas a satisfying addition to any meal. Beyond traditional dishes like hummus, chickpeas can be enjoyed in various recipes, such as curries or savoury bowls, often paired with grains or nuts to provide a complete array of essential amino acids for optimal health. Additionally, high soluble fiber content aids digestion and regulates blood sugar levels, ensuring sustained energy throughout the day.
Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a nutritious spread that serves as an excellent source of protein. It provides 31% of daily protein when consumed an appropriate amount. Including this in your daily diet can help meet your protein needs. Choosing peanut butter that is without any added sugars and is rich in beneficial fats, such as Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs) and fiber, is crucial. There are options available that are made with ingredients like jaggery instead of refined sugars, providing a subtle sweetness while maintaining a relatively low sugar content. Incorporating moderate amounts of peanut butter into your meals or snacks can be a convenient and tasty way to boost protein intake and enjoy its nutritional benefits.
Millets
Varieties such as Ragi and Jowar stand out as valuable sources of protein when integrated into a regular diet. Offering approximately 7-12 grams of protein per 100-gram serving, these grains are excellent choices for individuals seeking plant-based protein options. Adding millets to your meals not only enhances protein intake but also provides essential nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. For personalized guidance on the optimal amount based on individual dietary requirements, consulting with a nutritionist is recommended.
Incorporating protein-rich foods into your diet is essential for boosting energy levels, supporting muscle strength, and aiding in recovery after workouts. By including plant-based protein sources like lentils, soya, chickpeas, peanut butter, and millets, in your meals and snacks, you can ensure that your body receives the nutrients it needs to thrive. Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or simply looking to add more plant-based foods to your diet, these protein-packed options offer a delicious and nutritious way to enhance your fitness journey.
By Dr. Shilpa Vora, Chief R&D Officer at Marico Ltd
(Images courtesy: Canva)



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