8 Meatless Complete Proteins That Will Help You Lose Weight

By Darren Wu on 17 October 2014 1 comment

When you see the word "meat,"what's the first thing that comes to your mind? If you're like many people, you'll probably answer with the word "protein."

You may already know that the protein in meat is "complete," meaning that it contains all nine of the essential amino acids in adequate proportions necessary for our dietary needs.

But did you know that there are other, meatless foods that contain complete protein as well? And that in addition, did you know that these might even help you lose weight? (See also: 35 Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy Vegetarians)

Although meat has protein, it also tends to have zero fiber and lots of fat. For example, even 90 percent lean ground beef has 10 grams of fat per 100 gram serving. And one pork chop has 4 grams of fat.

These eight meatless complete proteins, conversely, are generally low fat and high fiber. So what are you waiting for? Check them out — along with some recommended starter recipes below — and start eating complete, meat-free, protein.

1. Chia Seeds

Native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala, and known for their use in the popular Chia Pets back in the 1980's, chia seeds pack 11 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein into just one ounce. Chia seeds have an Amino Acid Score of 115 (an Amino Acid Score of 100 or higher indicates a complete protein). And they make a mean chia pudding.

2. Soybeans

You've seen soybeans processed into tofu and soymilk, soybeans pack 10 grams of fiber and 29 grams of protein into a single cup. They also have an Amino Acid Score of 118, all of which you can drink with some beautiful homemade soymilk.

3. Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) originated in the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia, and is without a doubt "the grain of the moment." One cup has 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein, and while very versatile, this citrus black bean quinoa salad is a great place to start.

4. Amaranth

Once a staple food of the Aztecs, amaranth has an Amino Acid Score of 108, and makes a hearty amaranth breakfast cereal.

5. Spinach

Ten grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber was enough for Popeye, so what about you? And if you think spinach is all about salads, you clearly need to try this simple green smoothie.

6. Black-Eyed Peas

Black-eyed peas are named for the black spots which looks like black eyes. They are traditionally eaten in the South, and on New Year's Day to bring good luck. One cup has 11 grams of fiber, and 13 grams of protein, and all of that goodness goes into these sloppy black-eyed peas.

7. Split Peas

Originally round when harvested, split peas are mechanically separated after they've been dried to encourage faster cooking. One cup has a whopping 16 grams of fiber, and 16 grams of protein, so demon-possessed girls aren't the only ones who should be enjoying split pea soup.

8. Cauliflower

And finally: cauliflower comes from the same species of vegetables that includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, and kale. Although most commonly known for its white color, cauliflower also comes in orange and purple varieties, and just one small head has 7 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Try some Roasted Cauliflower Steak and see how they stack up to those lesser, actual steaks.

What's your favorite non-animal protein source? Please share a bite in comments!

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Guest's picture
Dre

"Although meat has protein, it also tends to have zero fiber and lots of fat. For example, even 90 percent lean ground beef has 10 grams of fat per 100 gram serving. And one pork chop has 4 grams of fat.

These eight meatless complete proteins, conversely, are generally low fat and high fiber."

How is the fat in meat preventing weight loss? If anything, more fat (within reason) is good for weight loss, because we're not in the 80s-90s "low fat" era anymore. Countless (current) studies show that carbs and overall increased sugar intake causes weight gain through various means (deregulating hormones, increasing calorie intake, etc.).

The above grains/leguimes provide protein, but they're also coming with plenty of carbs which become sugar. For example Quinoa is on the list and has been getting a lot of praise, let's take a COMPLETE look at it's nutritional profile, not just protein/fiber:

Amount Per 1 cup (170 g)
Calories 625

Total Fat 10 g
Saturated fat 1.2 g
Polyunsaturated fat 6 g
Monounsaturated fat 2.7 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Sodium 9 mg

Potassium 957 mg

Total Carbohydrate 109 g

Dietary fiber 12 g

Protein 24 g
***
So now we can break it down. There is plenty of GOOD fat (Poly/Monounsaturated) and a good amount of (complete) protein. However it comes with a 109g of carbs price tag! If you're trying to lose weight, you should steer shy of 200g a day (150g if you're being good). So ONE cup is half that, and who eats one cup? Meat on the other hand, little/no carbs and plenty of protein/fat.

One last thing - since you need 9 amino acids to build protein, calling something "complete protein" becomes a problem. If a food has high amount of 8 amino acids, but just barely of the 9th, it would be complete technically but would not make much protein itself because as soon as that 9th amino acid runs out, you get 0g protein. Now, our body gets amino acids from various sources so this is unlikely, but its good to know the difference between "complete protein" and food that will actually help you make a lot of protein!