Protein is more than just meat

Many people are under the impression that protein exists only in meat. While meat is a rich protein source, this nutrient can also be found in many other delicious food sources, which often have nutritional profiles equal to, if not greater than, meat.

Consider eggs, fish, vegetable protein, nuts, low-fat dairy, sea vegetables and seeds. These options are leaner than meat because they are lower in saturated and trans fats and higher in fiber. Unfortunately, the protein in many plant sources is not considered complete. A complete protein contains all nine essential amino acids in proportions necessary to meet the dietary needs of a human. Thus meat alternatives such as legumes, beans, nuts and seeds need to be eaten in conjunction with specific other foods. For example, red kidney beans and brown rice make a complete protein.

Diversifying your meals with alternative forms of protein, will help to freshen up your meal plans. Doing so will also introduce different nutrients into an already clean diet. Try some of the following options when you are wondering what to snack on for protein.

1. Protein spreads: nut and seed butters and humus
2. Nuts: almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, beans and lentils
3. Soy products: tempeh or tofu (tofu should be consumed in small amounts once or twice per week)
4. Fish: all kinds of fish and seafood are excellent protein alternatives (watch advisories on healthy versus toxic fish types)
5. Eggs: eggs are a complete protein and one of the best choices of protein for an eat clean diet follower. Be sure to consume more egg white than yolk; use the 3:1 ratio (3 egg whites to 1 yolk). Since I eat so many eggs I try hard to find free-range or organic eggs.
6. Quinoa: ounce for ounce quinoa contains more readily digestible and complete protein than a glass of milk. This is especially good news for vegetarians, vegans or those with dairy intolerances.

Don’t forget to eat nuts, seeds, legumes and beans with whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa to obtain all the essential amino acids required by humans. If you do opt for traditional meat sources, spice things up sometimes by opting for game meats including bison, ostrich, venison, boar or rabbit.

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