How To Get Enough Protein On A Vegetarian Diet

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Next week is National Vegetarian Week! Why, you ask, would that interest a bona fide meat-eater such as myself? It may surprise you to hear that it was actually only in January that I moved over to the dark side. I found that the harder I trained, the hungrier I became – and only the densest of protein-rich foods would fill me up. Hence the meat cravings, and the abandonment of the vegetarian lifestyle I’d led for ten years.

That’s why the current trend of vegetarianism for health interests me. Mitra Wicks wrote about part-time vegetarianism in this month’s Om Yoga Magazine: the self-professed “fine meat” lover tries out a plant-based diet for a month to reap the healthy benefits. Whilst it’s true that studies show a meat-rich diet can be detrimental to your health, Anita Bean also states in Sports Nutrition that athletes need between 1.2 and 1.7 grams per kilogram bodyweight – and I mean athletes as in individuals who train hard, not just the Jess Ennises and Mo Farrahs of this world – compared to a sedentary person who only needs 0.75 grams per kilogram.

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So how do we strike a balance? You’d be amazed to learn just how many foods protein is present in, though it’s difficult to get sources as dense as meat. To poke a litle fun at switch to being a meat-eater, I set myself a challenge to try get as much protein in one evening meal as I possibly could – without resorting to meat, dairy, or even fake meat!

Kidney beans: 8g per half can (120g). Beans are a perfect source of protein for vegetarians – they’re full of fibre, stabilise blood sugar and are inexpensive.

Chickpea & spinach soup: 4.4g per half can. Chickpeas are also legumes, the same as beans, and share many of the same benefits. This can is one of my “emergency” meals but I thought it would be good to make it the base! Plus this ad-lib addition is in keeping with the thrown-together quality of this dish.. Ahem.

Mushrooms: 2.2g per cup. I used to think that mushrooms were mega protein dense, due to their presence in most veggie meals, but I actually think this is due to their meaty texture rather than macro content. Still, not bad for a vegetable – calorie-for-calorie, broccoli has 1.2g.

Quinoa: 8g per cooked cup. A trendy superfood, and with good reason – it contains all nine amino acids and has twice the protein of rice.

Green pepper: 0.5g per half pepper. For taste, texture and colour!

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Total protein per portion: 23.1g. Perhaps not in the lofty heights of 50g for a steak but not bad for a plate full of vegetables.

This dish did fill me up and is something I would happily add into my weekly menu, though perhaps not suitable for the day after legs day: my muscles need more fuel after lifting heavy. I’d have been interested to hear if Wicks felt any better after her meat-free month, especially seeing as I felt stronger after ceasing vegetarianism! It just proves that your diet is a very personal thing, and whilst you should take into account what the experts say, how you feel is the best indicator of a healthy lifestyle.

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Two Days With Myprotein | Sports Nutrition Review

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Post-spinning, work canteen selfie

Last week I lost 3lbs. Great news, right? Well.. No. Not to me, as I’d been using MyFitnessPal to maintain weight exactly. Worryingly I don’t measure my body fat percentage often enough to know whether that 3lbs was made up of fat, or whether it was muscle, organ tissue, or any of the other stuff necessary to make my body function. So – as someone who doesn’t own a heart rate monitor or FitBit – I’ve bitten the bullet and increased my food intake.

It’s tough. One: because society dictates that women should always be eating less, and despite detesting this outdated viewpoint, there is still a small part of my being screaming we can’t eat more! We’ll get fat! And two: it is surprisingly hard to figure out enough different meals and snacks that fit my macros throughout the day to both hit my calorie target and also inspire my palate.

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In step Myprotein. After receiving a pack of goodies, I decided to use them to bulk out my diet in as many interesting ways as I could over two days. On Thursday I began my day with my usual breakfast, muesli and Greek yoghurt, but with half a scoop of strawberry Impact whey protein mixed in. This stuff comes in a huge variety of flavours including unflavoured, useful for adding to all sorts; the strawberry taste made it feel like a real treat and I found myself less hungry throughout the day. Pre-evening workout I made a shake with the strawberry whey, a banana, peanut butter and almond milk, which tasted incredible but made my HIIT workout harder from sloshing around in my stomach too much! Definitely my mistake – it’s perfect for chilling out after the gym, though.

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Friday morning, pre-spinning. I attempted to make pancakes using the MyProtein mix, and it was an absolute disaster with pancakes in bits, leaving the house eating them half cooked..! I’m not the best at using the frying pan at the best of times (seriously, even my omelettes end up in pieces) so maybe 6am wasn’t the best opportunity to test these out for the first time – I cheated on my own challenge and made them again Sunday morning. This time they turned out delicious, and even my mum enjoyed them, although when completely plain they are a touch eggy they’re the perfect vessel to add berries, peanut butter or dessicated coconut to.

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Obviously the much more civilised Sunday morning attempt.

Post-spinning I had an Oats & Whey Flapjack, which again surprised me how full I felt for the rest of the morning. Over the two days I added in Chocolate Smooth whey protein shakes which taste like advent calendar chocolate; on Friday night I had a warm one which was deliciously comforting after a long week.

Okay, so I wouldn’t eat like this every day – I’d be missing out on nutrients you can only get from whole, fresh food. However, the MyProtein products certainly filled me up which is no mean feat considering my usual appetite, and I really enjoyed thinking of new ideas to add to my diet! By the end of the second day protein was 40% of my intake, so I should have benefited from some muscle growth over the two days. Usually I’d pick one of these options to add in every day to supplement my diet, and have it post-workout.

With thanks to MyProtein for providing the samples for this post – you can shop their products here and until April 30th new customers can enter code NEW10 for 10% off your order.

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Hearty, Healthy Ginger, Chilli & Garlic Turkey Recipe

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You go to work, it’s dark; you come home, it’s dark. You’re tired, and the last thing you want to do is stand over a stove cooking for hours. I get it.. it’s actually chopping veg that gets to me. So I’ve figured out a super easy way to get a hearty, healthy meal down you in less than half an hour. Turkey is an awesome source of protein, is relatively quick to cook, is full of B vitamins, and also contains tryptophan, a substance that will help you drift off to sleep. That’s why the basis of a lot of my meals is turkey – not least because of its excellent price.

I whizz up two cloves of garlic, some ginger, a chilli and some vegetable stock in a blender with a splash of hot water, cover some turkey with the mixture (whether it’s breast, mince, breast chunks or meatballs) then put it in a tagine in the oven. A tagine isn’t necessary – even in a baking tray covered with some tinfoil would be good, or it could go straight in the pan, but the meat wouldn’t stay quite as moist. You just want the turkey to soak up as much of the mixture as possible. While that’s cooking I throw a tin of chopped tomatoes and whichever vegetables I fancy into a pan to cook, and get the brown rice/pasta/noodles on the go too.

This garlic, ginger, chilli, stock and chopped tomatoes combo is the basis for most of my meals. I use whatever vegetables are in my fridge (for an even easier ride, just throw in frozen veg – normally it’s small so doesn’t even need chopping), plus paprika, kidney beans and sweetcorn with lean turkey mince for chilli; breast pieces with noodles; spiced turkey meatballs with pasta. The beauty is you just mix and match whatever you feel like – or whatever you have in your cupboard! – and it feels like you’re eating a different meal each time.

And there you have it. Varied, easy, and most of all healthy meals, that I promise will leave you more satisfied than bung-in-the-microwave ready meals.

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Nuts Over This Milk | Alpro Almond Milk Review

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For many, many years I was a big drinker of soya milk; as a teenager I was vegan and at that point there was less choice than there is now, then later just because I hated milk almost to the point of being scared of it. Of course, I’d heard all about soya’s darker side. I wasn’t keen on it messing around with my hormones, but I figured I’d do something about it, when I got a little older.

My 28th birthday hit, and with it a realisation of mortality. I can’t exactly call myself a young person anymore and I find I have to treat myself a lot better to feel and look the same the way I did even five years ago. It was about that point I noticed Alpro almond milk in the supermarket, priced at a very attractive £1 a carton.

That was a very roundabout, soul-searching introduction, but what I want to say is that I like almond milk, a lot. I like the way it doesn’t interfere with the taste of coffee, cereal or tea, which realistically are the only things I use milk in. I find I have to use more almond milk in my coffee than I would soya (and a lot more than I’d use cows’ milk) so I heat my coffee cup up pre-coffee with a cupful of just-boiled water.

I can’t say it’s made any difference to how I feel, though I’ve been feeling pretty strong healthy lately anyway so it’s likely to be another ingredient in a healthy mixture. My mind and soul certainly feel reassured, though, knowing I’m using a non-dairy milk that is unlikely to send my hormones haywire.

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