What do you recommend as a good source of proteins for vegetarians? I eat plenty of beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and milk products. But I often feel extremely hungry between meals. –Aparna N.
It sounds like you are hitting the basics of a vegetarian diet with the food groups you describe. Good job! Your primary complaint seems to be extreme hunger.
You may be getting adequate protein with ‘plenty’ of the foods you describe, but not enough calories or fat. Hunger is usually a neurological signal of lack of energy intake, but it can also be a physical response to an empty stomach. A little fat with each meal or snack helps digest food more slowly, keeping some in the stomach longer.
Get sufficient calories to maintain a healthy weight. You don’t have to count numbers here, just adjust portions accordingly if your weight is drifting in either direction. Support your activity by eating the bulk of your food in the earlier hours of your day and having a snack to fuel workouts.
Check to see that your fat intake is spread throughout the day. Eating just a cup of nuts in one sitting won’t work! Other plant fat options include avocado, olive oil, seeds, coconut, and soybeans/tofu. And as for dairy, cheese tops the list (after butter and cream) since it also provides some protein.
If you’re still convinced a lack of protein is causing you to be ravenous, the Vegetarian Resource Group has a great table showing protein content of selected vegan foods. One of the food groups you’ve not mentioned is grains, which provide 2-5 grams protein per ounce. Here’s a list of the top grain sources of protein, ranked from highest to lowest per normal serving:
Triticale, Oats, Wheat, Rye, Bagel, Quinoa, Spelt, Pasta regular, Bulgur, Kamut, Wild rice, Millet,
Amaranth, Whole wheat bread, Teff, Brown rice, Barley
Links have been provided through the paragraphs above, but you can also read through our Healthy Living Blog for all our vegetarian-related articles and additional resources by typing in keywords under “Find An Article” and clicking on GO.
Click HERE for our vegetarian eating guide.
- Debbie J., MS, RD
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