As the saying goes, a healthy body starts with sound nutrition. And for many fitness success is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition.

That’s why when our Personal Training Clients ask us how to find effective vegetarian protein sources, we often start by educating them about what protein is. By giving them this foundation they then can make healthier decisions when meal-planning and eating out.

What is Protein?

In short, proteins are utilized by the body for a variety of critical functions (including immune system support), and they are the structural components of muscle and other tissues.

An adequate amount of protein in your diet is crucial for the growth and repair of your body’s cells and the normal functioning of muscles.

Proteins are built out of amino acids. You can think of amino acids as the building blocks of protein (just like lego).

The Importance of Amino Acids

Most foods have a varying amino acid profile. And your goal is to eat the right combinations of amino acids, so your digestive system can effectively assimilate them and use them to build, repair and healthily maintain your body.

There are essential amino acids, meaning your body does not naturally produce them, and non-essential amino acids, one’s which your body can make.

High-quality protein sources include the right combination of essential and non-essential amino acids. And the good news is you don’t have to eat only high-quality protein foods, because you can combine two or more lower-quality protein sources to yield a higher-quality one.

For example, you will want to combine a grain with a legume ie. pumpernickel bread with cashews, because on their own they are weak sources of protein, but together make a highly effective one.

Another combination example can be adding peas to rice, because doing this will complete the amino acid structure. And if it’s more convenient, you can also include a pea protein-enriched smoothie to your meal whenever you eat rice or grains.

Effective Vegetarian Protein Sources

High-quality protein foods:

  • Tofu
  • Lentils
  • Soybeans
  • Edamame
  • Quinoa
  • Chickpeas
  • Soy Milk
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Baked Beans
  • Soy Protein Isolate
  • Whey Protein Isolate
  • Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Pistachios
  • Chia Seeds
  • Black-Eyed Peas
  • Ezekiel Bread

Alternative sources of protein:

  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Amaranth
  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Peanut & Almond Butter
  • Pita Bread
  • Hummus
Learn more about nutrition and healthy living from a Nielsen Fitness certified personal trainer.

Education is Key

In addition to exercise, we are equally passionate about educating our Personal Training clients about nutrition and lifestyle habits.

If you found this information to be helpful and would like to learn more, then feel free to reach us for a complimentary consultation and free first workout.

Updated on January 9, 2023.