If you’re looking to build lean muscle, it’s important to ensure that you’re consuming around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day (and perhaps more, depending on your specific goal). Although eggs and lean meats such as chicken, beef, and fish are critical protein sources, it never hurts to vary up your diet with some eclectic protein-packed items. Here are five meat-free protein sources worth incorporating into your muscle-building diet regimen:
Believe it or not, this whole grain item dishes up about 9 grams of protein per cup and contains all your essential amino acids. It also offers a gluten-free source of iron and healthy fiber. Consider swapping in quinoa in place of your sweet potatoes or brown rice a couple times per week for an additional protein punch. For some superb quinoa prep tips, check out this piece by The Kitchn.
2. Pumpkin Seeds
Most people think of pumpkin seeds as a once-a-year treat relegated to Halloween. Not so! A half cup of pumpkin seeds contains about 13 grams of protein, making them an amazing pre-workout snack year-round.
3. Chick Peas
High in fiber and low in calories, chick peas serve up about 7.5 grams of protein per half cup. They're also one of the most versatile protein sources. These delicious legumes can be used any number of ways, including in a salad or blended with some olive oil and other ingredients to make hummus.
4. Greek Yogurt
If you’re a dairy lover, Greek yogurt provides an incredible source of protein. With a whopping 23 grams per 8-ounce serving, Greek yogurt serves up nearly double the protein of regular yogurt with less sugar and plenty of digestion-optimizing bacteria. For the best and worst Greek yogurt picks for your fitness goals, head on over to Eat This, Not That!
5. Green Peas
Say what?! Yes, green peas offer a fantastic source of protein, which is why they’re often used in vegan protein powders. Each cup of green peas contains about 9 grams of protein, plus plenty of healthy fiber.