When you think about protein, your first thoughts likely include sizable slabs of meat, post-workout recovery meals, whey shakes, and three egg omelets. In short, you think about animal proteins—the type that most of us have been habituated towards since birth. But according to a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland, people who consume higher quantities of animal-based protein are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
You might be thinking, “Wait, what other sources of protein are there?” We’re so glad you asked. There are an abundance of plant-based proteins (including spirulina, chia seeds, and quinoa) that provide your body with the energy, antibodies, and enzymes it needs to function properly. And unlike animal-based sources, plant-based proteins do not increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
In order to distinguish the differences between these two types of protein, researchers at the University of Eastern Finland analyzed the diets of 2,332 men between the ages of 42 and 60 who did not have type 2 diabetes at baseline. When researchers checked in with participants 19 years later, they discovered that the population of men who consumed the highest amounts of plant-based protein were 35% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who consumed the lowest amount.
So next time you’re recovering from a taxing workout, resist the urge to cook up a steak or grab a bag of turkey jerky. Instead, try fueling yourself with these seven, plant-based protein recipes.
One cup of cooked lentils contains 18g of protein. Yep, that’s more than most energy bars can offer. So prep a large batch of this salad on Sunday, and enjoy it all week.
Speaking of protein bars, these chocolate, coconut ones are a yummy, DIY option. 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contain 4 grams of protein—the perfect amount for a quick boost after yoga.
Supercharge your pizza crust with this quinoa-based recipe. 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa contains up to 9 grams of protein. So pile your pizza high with veggies and cheese for a mouthwatering twist on your favorite, doughy indulgence.
This gorgeously green ice cream may look like mint chocolate chip, but it packs a powerful, plant-based punch that your average pint of Breyers can’t match. Two tablespoons of spirulina contains 8g of protein, so you can savor this creamy confection as a midnight snack that you won’t feel guilty about in the morning.
Kale is much more tolerable when coated in large amounts of cheese, or in this case, nutritional yeast. 3 tablespoons of this flaky, plant-based ingredient contain 12 grams of protein. So prep a huge bowl of this green goodness, and turn on some Netflix—this no-guilt snack will leave you brimming with energy.
Nuts are one of the most overlooked forms of plant-based protein. A one ounce serving of cashews, for instance, contains 5g. So sprinkle them on top of your summer salads, or enjoy them in this zoodle-inspired dish.
If you’re eating desert, it might as well be packed with protein. A one cup serving contains 15 grams, so you can enjoy these just before bed, and skip the morning cup of joe.
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