This post contains my food diary entry from Sunday.
April 24 Sunday
- 2685 calories total: 92.9% from carbs, 5.2% from protein, 1.9% from fat.
- Breakfast – pack grapes, blueberries, bag pineapple, half an Innocent smoothie.
- My boyfriend and I split a 750ml Innocent smoothie. I love these! I buy smoothies in 750ml cartons. These only contain fruit, no added sugar or artificial stuff. Cronometer doesn’t have Innocent smoothies in their database so I used the closest entry I could find. I also have the option of creating a custom food: simply input the nutritional information of the smoothie into Cronometer and save it into the database. I may do that next time but I figured their ‘smoothie, fruit, made without dairy products’ entry would suffice.
- Lunch – pack grapes.
- We basically skipped lunch since we ate breakfast around noon!
- Dinner – roasted mushrooms, steamed green beans, broccoli, sweet potato.
- Snack – 1.5 packs grapes.
I feel like a broken record here, but protein will never be a problem for me. Most of my protein comes from all the grapes I eat (good thing I’m addicted to them!) and my favourite dinner of steamed sweet potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms. Sometimes we’ll have regular potatoes and/or asparagus, green beans, or sweetheart cabbage for our greens, so our dinner varies but the nutrients (and level of deliciousness) are roughly the same.
So how much protein do we really need?
Based on my research, we need roughly 50 grams of protein per day. This week I ate between 42-68 grams of protein each day, all from fruits and veggies.
The Harvard Health Publications Harvard Medical School health blog explained how we can calculate how much protein we need:
- The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. In a sense, it’s the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick — not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day.
- To determine your RDA for protein, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36, or use this online protein calculator.
- For a relatively active adult, eating enough protein to meet the RDA would supply as little as 10% of his or her total daily calories. In comparison, the average American consumes around 16% of his or her daily calories in the form of protein, from both plant and animal sources.
- As a HCLF vegan, I aim to eat 10% of my daily calories from protein. My protein sources of fruits and veggies are always low in fat and nutrient rich.
Meeting the RDA for protein is easy for vegans and non-vegans alike. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods:
- You can pick a relatively small number of foods and reach the Daily Value (DV) for protein—50 grams—fairly easily. For example, four ounces of cod, four ounces of tofu, and 1.5 cups of green peas will give you the full 50 grams.
- Vegetables can contain more protein than you might guess. Some categories of vegetable, brassicas and greens, for instance, can contain 5-10% of your protein needs per serving. You’ll be getting over 5 grams of protein from a single cup of spinach or collards, and over 7 grams from a single cup of green peas.
- An average American lacto-ovo-vegetarian (a vegetarian who eats dairy and eggs) eats 89 grams of protein per day, almost twice the Daily Value (DV) of 50 grams. Even when we subtract the contributions of dairy and eggs, we still see about 60 grams of protein from purely plant sources.
And for my favourite part of this article:
- It would actually be quite difficult to design a whole foods diet that provided less than 10% of its calories from protein. An 1,800-calorie whole foods diet consisting exclusively of fruit, for example, would typically still provide at least 40 grams of protein. An 1,800 calorie whole foods diet consisting exclusively of broccoli would provide 121 grams! Of course, we would never recommend either of these approaches to a meal plan, but they are helpful in demonstrating just how difficult it is to come up with a highly protein deficiency diet based on a whole foods approach to eating.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind eating grapes or broccoli all day. (Clearly I’m thinking about dinner right now….)
So remember, you will never need to worry about eating enough protein as a vegan, even if you only eat fruits and veggies. If vegan naysayers don’t believe you, bust out your Cronometer food diary.