Thinking about cutting out meat but unsure over losing such a valuable source of protein? Check out these alternatives to keep your body fuelled for action!
In today’s day and age, the science of nutrition has enabled more and more people to live completely healthy lives all without having to consume a morsel of meat. If you’re an athlete or particularly into your fitness though, you might be doubtful of making such a dietary decision when you rely on meat as your main source of protein. Whilst many might vouch for protein shakes to fill this void, one can hardly live off of them as your main source of fuel for your body.
Rather, there are a number of alternatives to meat that can provide you with the exact same protein and key nutrients all whilst being free of the side-effects that come with over indulging on meat products. It comes as no surprise that more and more people are making the move away from meat, so here’s 5 of these alternatives that can really ensure your transition goes as smoothly as possible.
There are many different variants of nuts, each of which comes with their own unique nutritional properties. Whilst some that are particularly high in salt can be damaging if consumed to excess, pistachios in particular contain so much protein, fibre and potassium that they are considered by many to be a superfood.
Not only do they contain such goodness, but pistachios also can actually help reduce your level of cholesterol-perfect if you’re looking to recover from a cheat day! Their cousins such as Walnuts, Almonds and Cedar Nuts again each contain various vitamins so when taken in moderation are some of nature’s finest offerings for getting in shape.
A big favourite for those with a gluten intolerance, quinoa is a staple accompaniment to dishes prepared around the world. Whilst there is some debate over whether or not it should be considered a cereal grain, the benefits it offers are undisputable.
Not only does it provide 16% protein on its own, it is what’s referred to as a ‘complete’ protein source, which means that it comes with a range of key amino acids which in turn fulfils countless bodily functions. Unlike many other sources of protein from plants, quinoa also comes with lysine, an amino acid that is essential for muscle growth. If you’re looking to bulk out, then this is an essential ingredient to have in your recipes.
With evidence being found that they have been consumed for more than 7000 years, chickpeas are yet another crucial source of minerals and proteins. Rarely eaten on their own but as part of a larger meal, chickpeas are prized in particular by those looking to recover and rebuild muscles after particularly vigorous exercise.
This is because chickpeas stand out thanks to their relatively high levels of zinc and folate, each of which is particularly useful for rebuilding damaged cells and staving off ‘free radicals’, molecules within the body that can cause all kinds of health defects. Chickpeas help provide the crucial means with which to stave off these radicals, and ensure the development of fresh and healthy cells ready to do their proper job.
A member of the bean family, lentils are counted amongst some of the healthiest foods that can be found anywhere in the world. High in protein, what makes them superior to meat is that you won’t need to count calories at all as just one regular cup comes with a meagre 230 calories!
It’s also worth noting here that lentils are a really good source of iron, which itself is a key component in transporting blood around the body-vital in any athletic situation. Should you be preparing, recovering from or even in the midst of strenuous physical activity, consuming any dish that includes lentils will undeniably give you a much needed burst of energy.
Hailing from the cuisine of East Asia, tofu is rich in every form of amino acid, iron, calcium, and many other vital minerals for improving your level of health. Like many of the other foods in this list, it is brilliant at repairing your body after exercise and helping to guard against diseases of all sorts.
Also from a taste perspective this is a really versatile ingredient that can be prepared in various ways to create a wide range of flavours. If you’ve been struggling to give up meat due to the lack of satisfaction derived from its alternatives, then tofu may be just what you need to satisfy those cravings. There’s plenty of recipes on how to maximise its potential and that of the preceding alternatives on this list, so get researching as soon as you can!
One last word of advice however, is that no two people will have an identical experience when moving away from a meat-heavy diet. You can do everything exactly by the book in terms of exercise and diet, but your body may still have some initial grumbles about such a change. Persistence and willpower will be your best friends in this regard and will help term any short-term pain into long-term health and fitness gains.