Protein is a building material for our body so when you start your plant-based diet you face many questions. “How to replenish protein for a vegetarian? How to get the amount of amino acids necessary for our body? Are they contained in sufficient quantities in legumes? How to properly cook and consume legumes?” In this article you will find answers to these questions.
How to replenish protein for a vegetarian
About 20% of a person’s body weight is made up of proteins, and half of this percentage is accounted for by muscles.
The protein consists of twenty amino acids, nine of which the body is not able to synthesize independently. Protein is found in large quantities in meat, but for those who have switched to a plant-based diet, the question of replenishing protein and the necessary amino acids is quite acute.
So, what are the sources of protein for vegetarians and how to replenish the reserves in our body? There are two ways to replenish protein in the body: natural and with the addition of various food additives.
The first involves the consumption of foods rich in plant-based protein, for example: tofu cheese, nuts, legumes, seeds and sesame seeds. The second involves the use of so-called protein shakes.
Today there are a huge number of powdered cocktails, and they are really able to replenish the protein content in the body. There are separate lines for vegetarians.
We suggest returning to natural products, in particular to legumes, and considering their useful properties.
Legumes – main source of plant-based protein
We should immediately note that the culture of consumption of legumes is rooted in the deep past. In Rome and Greece, as well as in ancient Egypt, legumes were considered sacred plants.
The main useful property of legumes is the high protein content — in 100 grams of legumes it reaches 25 %.
In addition, the composition of legumes includes potassium, iron, phosphorus and magnesium. These minerals are responsible not only for the work of the heart, but also for the condition of bone tissues. Legumes are also rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 acids, which have a beneficial effect on many systems of our body.
Due to the antioxidants that are part of legumes, the prevention of heart and cancer diseases is carried out. The same antioxidants slow down the aging process in the body. There are a lot of vitamins of group A and B in the composition of legumes, which have a positive effect on the nervous system, improve hair growth.
Legumes are also rich in fiber, which improves digestion and intestinal function.
When is the best time to eat legumes?
For all its benefits, legumes are a heavy product, which means that our body needs time to digest them. From the point of view of Ayurveda, the time when our digestive fire (agni) is most powerful is lunch. Therefore, it is best to eat legumes at lunch to give our stomach the opportunity to digest food.
It is appropriate to use legumes for breakfast, in small quantities, legumes can be eaten in the evening, but no later than three to four hours before bedtime. Eating legumes just before a night’s rest can disrupt your sleep and lead to gas formation and flatulence.
It is important to remember that, despite the fact that beans are rich in protein and other useful elements, you should not lean on them. As with other food, moderation is important here, since overeating leads to disorders in the intestinal tract, bloating and gases.
If you cook legumes correctly, use them only with combined products, but you feel a heaviness in your stomach, then it is worth giving up their use for a while. After the restoration of the gastrointestinal tract, start gradually adding legume dishes to your diet.
Legumes are contraindicated in inflammatory diseases of the stomach; if you have diseases associated with the biliary tract, then you should limit the consumption of legume dishes.
How often should I eat legumes
For vegetarians, the weekly norm of legumes is 600-800 grams per week. It is also advisable to divide this norm into several meals on different days.
How to get the most out of legumes
In order to get the maximum benefit from legumes, it is necessary to adhere to simple recommendations covering the process from purchase to submission in ready-made form. If you follow these tips, then legumes will not just retain their useful qualities, but will also surprise even gourmets with their taste.
Before cooking, legumes should be soaked for 4-5 hours in cool water, while the water should be changed to fresh several times.
You need to cook legumes in a small amount of water.
After cooking, the beans are left in the same water to cool down. This way they will retain their benefits.
When cooking, it is recommended to add spices to taste: ginger, black pepper and turmeric. This will improve the digestibility and digestion of legumes.
To improve the digestibility of the trace element iron from legumes, add tomatoes or lemon juice to dishes.
Do not combine legumes with cabbage and asparagus. Also, you should not cook bean dishes with the addition of garlic or onions.
After eating legumes, refrain from sweets for at least three hours. Also, you should not immediately eat fruit.
These simple recommendations will allow you to extract the maximum benefit for the body from legumes.
How to cook legumes correctly
In order for a vegan to get the maximum protein from legumes, it is worth remembering a few tips for their proper preparation.
As noted earlier, legumes require mandatory soaking, which starts the fermentation process. Fermentation will allow the products to be better absorbed by our body.
Leaders in protein content among legumes
As it has already become clear, legumes themselves occupy leading places in terms of the amount of protein in the composition. Among the legume family, it is also possible to distinguish leaders and outsiders in the content of building material. The table below shows a short list of legumes and the amount of protein in them.
Type of legumes Amount of protein (per 170 grams, one serving)
Edamam (green soybeans) 29 gr.
Green beans 13 gr.
Lentils 17 gr.
Red beans 16 gr.
Chickpeas 14 gr.