10 Easy, Vegetarian Ways to get More Protein in your Diet!

I recently learned that, while the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is .36 grams per pound, if you lift weights regularly as I do, you should consider doubling that amount. At first, the amount seemed overwhelming—I quickly ran through my day’s intake and estimated my total to be around only 40 or 50 grams. Although I have always eaten meat and don’t plan on becoming a vegetarian anytime soon, as a college student on a budget and always in a time crunch, cooking up chicken or fish or any animal protein isn’t a feasible option. However, I’m a girl on a quest to gain some muscle, and although I love to lift heavy weights, diet is equally as important in the equation! So, I did some research and have added a ton of new and exciting vegetarian protein sources into my diet. Here are a few.

1. Chickpeas!

One half-cut sperving of these babies packs 18 grams of protein into your day. I like to roast canned chickpeas at 420 F for 45-50 minutes and then toss with olive oil and spices for a crunchy, salty snack to replace potato chips! 

2. Protein shakes!

I was at first super intimidated by the idea of drinking a protein shake—it seems like something only a total fitness junkie would do, but they’re actually such an easy, quick way to add some protein into your diet on the go. One shake has around 20 grams of protein depending on the brand. You might have to taste test a few options before finding on you love; not all powders are created equal.

3. Greek yogurt!

Swapping from normal yogurt to Greek yogurt is one of the easiest ways to add protein into your diet—one serving can have as much as 12 grams! But, I’d check the label for sugar content, first, as some brands can be quiet sugar bombs. I love Oikos Triple Zero: zero fat, zero added sugars and zero added sweeteners (it’s sweetened with Stevia).

4. Eggs!

Such an underrated, simple staple. One egg has 6 grams of protein! I love to hard boil a few in the morning before work and take them with me as a satisfying snack.

5. Quinoa!

You might want to consider swapping out your typical rice or pasta with this ancient grain: one serving has about 8 grams of protein.

6. Lentils!

Another option to swap out your pasta is lentils. With 18 grams of protein per one-cup cooked serving, they’re unbeatable. And now, pasta made with lentils have become very popular and widely available, so you won’t have to miss out on your favorite pasta dishes.

7. Black beans!

I’ve gotten hooked on black beans for lunch lately. I just toss a can of strained beans into a bowl with some tomato sauce and throw it in the microwave until it’s hot and top it with cheese and avocado before chowing down. One can has 21 grams of protein!

8. Chia seeds!

Just 2 tablespoons of these cute little seeds has 4 grams of protein, but they’re also full of important omega 3-fatty acids, calcium, fiber, vitamins and minerals. You can mix them into your diet in a variety of different ways, whether on top of your yogurt, mixed into baked goods like muffins, or in snack bars, like these little 100-calorie Health Warrior Energy Bars that are perfect for a quick pick-me-up.

9. Edamame!

Edamame has recently become my new obsession. I buy a few bags of it frozen from Trader Joe’s to store in my freezer and pop a serving into the fridge the night before I go to work so that the next morning, they’re thawed and ready to eat. One half-cup serving has 8 grams of protein and lots of fiber, making them the perfect on-the-go snack.

10. Oatmeal!

If chia seeds and edamame are a little too exotic for your tastebuds, good old oatmeal secretly contains an impressive amount of protein, too. One half-cup cooked serving has 5 grams, and if you top it off with protein-rich peanut butter, you’re golden!