Hey guys! Ever wondered how to hit your protein goal on a vegetarian diet? Yes? No? Maybe?
Well, I wanted to talk a bit about how you can hit your protein goal when you’re a vegetarian. I get this question a lot, especially from prospective vegetarian nutrition clients who want to track macros. I feel like many people think that macros are just for people who eat meat, but they’re really not. The tips listed below for how to hit your protein goal on a vegetarian diet will work for just about everyone. For example, I actually eat more of a vegan diet with some meat and fish mixed in. Two things I don’t typically eat, however, are eggs and dairy, which most vegetarians do. Proof that no matter how you classify your dietary preferences, macros can work for you!
How to hit your protein goal on a vegetarian diet
Plan ahead using a macro-tracking app
If you use MyFitnessPal or another tracking app (and I highly suggest you do!), take a few minutes to plan your protein for the next day before turning in for the night. You can, of course, plan the whole day if you like, but if you only have the time (and energy) for one macro, make it protein. It doesn’t need to be perfect, and you can always change it the next day if needed, but at least you have a framework in place. Planning ahead if a great way to make sure that you’re getting as close as possible to your protein goals!
Make your portions bigger
This tip I share with my nutrition clients is kind of a no-brainer in hindsight, but one we don’t often think about from the get-go. Just make your regular portions a little bigger! For example, if you usually eat two eggs for breakfast, eat three instead. Even just increasing your portion size of protein a little bit throughout the day can really add up!
Make sure all meals and snacks have protein in them
Protein is the hardest macro to hit even for meat-eaters, so vegetarians really need to make sure that all meals and snacks have protein in them to ensure that you hit your goal. I know that if I don’t consciously include protein in all of my meals and snacks, I end up needing 40+ grams at the end of the day. You can avoid this by dividing your protein as equally as possible throughout the day and, along with meals, choose snacks that have protein in them. A few snack ideas include:
- A smaller portion of lunch or dinner <– one of my favorite ways to sneak in protein!
- Nut butter packets
- Vegan or plant-based protein powder
- Dried chickpeas
Always have protein on hand
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the last one. Beyond just snacks, make sure you have go-to protein sources at the ready even when you’re at home, like hard-boiled eggs. You could make a big pot of lentils or even roast a big batch of chickpeas at the beginning of the week. I use this recipe from Oh She Glows for salt and vinegar chickpeas, and they are absolutely amazing. Cheese is another great source of protein, as well as Greek yogurt, especially with some hemp seeds mixed in! If you’re a pescatarian, you could keep fish and seafood on hand. (I’ve been cooking a lot of fish in the air fryer lately.) And, of course, a collagen powder such as marine collagen can be added to smoothies, coffee, and even oatmeal!
Reassess your protein goal
If you’re trying all of the above and more and still having trouble, it might be time to take another look at your protein goal. Is it possible that it’s just too high? I’m all about the importance of protein, but some people have taken it a little too far with setting super high protein goals, like eating at least 1x your body weight or more. I think that can be too much unless you’re a semi-professional athlete who is working out twice a day or training for some sort of endurance event. If you’re not, something like 0.6 to 0.8 of your body weight is totally fine! If you’re a vegetarian or vegan with a crazy high protein goal, try lowering it a bit to see if that helps, and balance the rest between carbs and fat. After all, tracking macros is all about making your life easier, not harder!
I hope that you guys found these tips and tricks helpful for how to hit your protein goal on a vegetarian diet. If you have any other vegetarian tips for hitting protein goals, please share them below. I’m personally always looking for ways to mix things up, and I’m sure some of you are too!