SOURCES OF VEGETARIAN KETO PROTEIN
Protein is an important macronutrient, it can be found in all cells of the body and it is the major structural component of all cells, especially muscles. We need protein to repair and build body tissue, balance hormones, form blood cells and to fuel our body. We need about 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight a day.
Our bodies do not store protein, so we have to consume enough through our diet every day. There are nine essential amino acids that we must get to avoid protein-energy malnutrition.
These essential amino acids are:
It is a common concern that vegetarians don’t get adequate amounts of protein from diet alone. However, with a bit of research and information on nutrition, you can plan your diet in a way that it will provide you with everything you need. As we are trying to eat a vegetarian keto diet, high carb and protein-rich foods like quinoa, lentils, most beans and legumes are off the table, but here are many other vegetarian and keto-friendly options out there.
Vegetarian and Keto Sources of Protein
- Dairy (Milk, Cheese, Greek Yogurt and Cream)
- Lupin Beans
- Nuts (Almonds, Brazil nuts, Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts)
- Nutritional Yeast
- Protein Powder (Whey Protein, Casein Protein, Egg Protein and Plant-based Protein)
- Seeds (Sesame, Chia, Pumpkin, Hemp, Sunflower)
- Soy (Milk, Yogurt, Tofu, Tempeh, Soya Granules, Flour and Edamame)
- Fruit and vegetables
- Micro protein/Quorn
Milk is the main component of all dairy products. Milk contains two types of protein:
- Whey (20%)
- Casein (80%)
Both are high-quality proteins and both contain all essential amino acids that are needed by the body. With about 5g carbs per 100ml, whole milk is high in carbohydrates and should be used in moderation or completely avoided on the keto diet. I sometimes use a little lactose-free milk in my coffee or to make yogurt and paneer. The carb count is less in lactose-free milk, since the lactose (milk sugar) has been removed. Cream and full-fat cheese have almost no carbohydrates and are an excellent choice on the keto diet.
Milk products high in protein/ Protein per 100g/ Net carbs per 100g
- Greek Yogurt (3g protein/ 4g net carbs)
- Cream (1.5g protein/ 1.6g net carbs)
- Sour Cream (2.4g/ 3.6g net carbs)
- Creme Fraiche (2.7g/ 2.8g net carbs)
- Cheddar (24.4g protein/ 0.1g net carbs)
- Brie (17g protein/ 0.5g net carbs)
- Goats Cheese (20g protein/ 1g net carbs)
- Paneer (23.2g protein/ 1.9g net carbs)
- Halloumi (22g protein/ 0.8g net carbs)
- Gouda (23.9g protein/ 0.1g net carbs)
- Feta (16.9g protein/ 1g net carbs)
- Cottage Cheese (11g protein/ 3g net carbs)
Full-fat milk products like cheese, sour cream, and greek yogurt are a great way to get your daily protein on a vegetarian keto diet.
An average egg contains about 6g of high-quality protein and 0.5g net carbs. It provides us with all essential amino acids that are needed by our body. Eggs are extremely low in carbohydrates and can be incorporated into many different meals.
Lupin is a low carb/high protein legume and its taste reminds me of chickpeas. The bean can be used for many dishes. Lupin beans can also be turned into flour, which is great for baking and cooking. 100g of lupin flour contains about 43g protein and 11.7g of net carbs.
Nuts are an important part of the keto diet. They are low in carbs, high in fat and protein and many make a great snack, delicious nut butter or flour substituted for baking.
List of Nuts high in Protein/ Protein per 100g
- Almonds (23g protein/ 4.4g net carbs)
- Brazil Nuts (14g protein/ 3.1g net carbs)
- Cashew Nuts (18g protein/ 18g net carbs)
- Hazelnuts (14g protein/ 6g net carbs)
- Macadamia Nuts (8g protein/ 5.2g net carbs)
- Pecan Nuts (20g protein/ 4.4g net carbs)
- Pine Nuts (14g protein/ 4g net carbs)
- Pistachio (21g protein/17.6g net carbs)
- Walnuts (15g protein/ 3.3g net carbs)
Nutritional yeast is a cultured and then deactivated strain of yeast. It has a cheesy flavor and is sold as either yellow powder or flakes. Nutritional yeast is high protein and provides many important micronutrients like vitamin D, folic acid, and zinc. 100g of nutritional yeast contains about 51g of protein and 16g of net carbs, a serving size is about 5g. Nutritional yeast can be used to make vegan cheese, sprinkled on vegetables and salads, or to flavor sauces.
Peanuts are a legume and with 26g of protein and 7.6g of net carbs per 100g, they are rich in plant-based protein. Peanuts can be used raw or roasted as a snack, in the form of peanut butter or peanut flour. Peanuts are slightly higher carbs and need to be consumed in moderation.
Protein powder is an easy way to increase your protein intake. There are so many different protein powders available. Look out for the carb count and what sweetener is used, some contain maltitol which can spike blood sugar. I personally go for plain, unsweetened and unflavoured protein powder to use in shakes or baking. This way I can flavor and sweeten to taste.
Whey protein splits into three types of Protein Powder, they are all made from milk and provide all essential amino acids
- Whey Protein Concentrate: about 20g of protein and 0.9g net carbs in one serving (25g)
- Whey Protein Isolate: about 23g of protein and 0.2g net carbs in one serving (25g)
- Whey Protein Hydrolysate: about 27g of protein and 0.5g net carbs in one serving (30g)
Whey Protein Isolate is a little lower in carbs but the protein content in all three is almost identical. Whey Protein Hydrolysate is supposed to be easier metabolized and less allergenic.
Casein Protein Powder is made from milk and provides us with all essential amino acids. It is a slowly digested protein and absorbs more liquid than whey protein. Casein Protein Powder provides about 12g of protein and 1.2g net carbs per 15g serving.
Egg Protein is made from egg whites, it is a white powder, similar to protein powder. It is a great alternative for people with dairy allergy. Egg Protein Powder provides 84g protein and 4.5g net carbs per 100g and about 17g of protein per 20g serving.
Plant-based protein is made from seeds, legumes, grains, and nuts. Grains are not a keto-friendly option so I’m not going to include them in my list. Plant-based protein powder does not contain all essential amino acids and is therefore an incomplete protein source. However different plant protein powders can be mixed together to level all essential amino acids.
- Hemp Protein: about g protein and net carbs per serving (30g) 7.4g net carbs and 84.3 p in 100g
- Pumpkin Protein: about 17g protein and 0.9g net carbs per serving (30g)
- Soy Protein Powder: about 28g of protein and 0.5g net carbs per serving (30g)
- Sunflower Protein Powder: about 9.8g of protein and 0.8g net carbs per serving (20g)
Seeds are a great source of plant-based protein, they can be used to make seed crackers, chia pudding, in baking and cooking, smoothies or sprinkled on a salad. Most seeds are an incomplete source of protein, this means they do not contain all essential amino acids. Hemp, however, contains all essential amino acids and is considered a complete protein.
List of high protein seeds/ Protein per 100g
- Chia Seeds (20g protein/ 2g net carbs)
- Cumin (18g protein/ 33g net carbs)
- Flaxseeds/ Linseeds (18g protein/ 1.6g net carbs)
- Sesame Seeds (18g protein/ 1g net carbs)
- Sunflower Seeds (21g protein/ 11.4g net carbs)
- Poppy Seeds (18g protein/ 8.6g net carbs)
- Pumpkin Seeds (35g protein/ 2.3g net carbs)
- Mustard Seeds (26g protein/ 16g net carbs)
- Melon Seeds (16g protein/ 74g net carbs)
- Hemp Seeds (32g/ 1g net carbs)
Seitan is a plant-based meat substitute, with a meat-like texture. It is made from gluten, the main protein in wheat, and contains about 80 grams of protein and 7.7g net carbs per 100 grams. You can make your own Seitan with vital wheat gluten or by washing out wheat flour but you can also find it in most health food stores. Seitan should be avoided by people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Soy, Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame
Soya beans provide the body with all the essential amino acids and can be turned into milk, yogurt, flour, tofu, and tempeh.
- Edamame contains about 35g of protein and 15g net carbs per 100g. Edamame is made from immature soybeans that need to be steamed or boiled prior to consumption
- Soy Milk contains about 7.3g of protein and 0.2g net carbs per 100ml. Soy milk is made from soybeans and then fortified with vitamins and minerals. It can be used like cows milk.
- Soy Yogurt contains about 4g of protein in 100g. Soy yogurt is made from soy milk.
- Soya Flour contains about 41g of protein and 3g net carbs per 100g. Soya flour is made from milled soybeans. It is a low carb high protein flour.
- Textured Soy Protein contains about 45g of protein and 15.4g net carbs per 100g. Textured Soy Protein is a defatted soy flour product. You can buy it as granules or chunks. It is slightly higher in carbs and should be used in moderation.
- Tofu contains about 17g of protein and 1.5g net carbs per 100g. It is made from bean curds pressed together in a process similar to cheesemaking.
- Tempeh contains 17g of protein and 1g net carbs per 100g. It is made by cooking and slightly fermenting mature soybeans prior to pressing them into a patty.
Edamame can be used in salads or bought as a pasta substitute, soy milk can be used just like cows milk and soy flour can be used in baking. Soy Granules/Chunks, Tofu and Tempeh can be used in a variety of recipes, ranging from burgers, soups, curries, scrambled egg substitute, and chilis
Spirulina is an algae and it is sold as a dietary supplement. Spirulina also contains magnesium, riboflavin, manganese, potassium, iron, and many vitamins. This blue-green algae is really high in protein, 100g of spirulina contains about 65g of complete protein and 13g net carbs. A serving size is about 3-6g.
Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables can also provide a small percentage of your daily protein. They provide important nutrients like vitamins, potassium, and folic acid. They are also low in carbs and contain fiber which helps with proper bowel function. I have listed a few fruits and vegetables that contain a larger amount of protein.
Fruit/ Protein per 100g/ Net Carbs per 100g
- Avocados (2g protein/ 1.9g net carbs)
- Apricots (1.4g protein/ 7.2g net carbs)
- Blackberries (1.4g protein/ 5g net carbs)
- Cantaloupe Melon (1.5g protein/ 4.6g carbs)
- Raspberries (1g protein/ 4.6g net carbs)
Vegetables/ Protein per 100g/ Net Carbs per 100g
- Soybean sprouts (13g protein/ 2g net carbs)
- Spinach (3g protein/ 0.2g net carbs)
- Collard Green (2.7g protein/ 1g net carbs)
- Mustard leaves (1.6g protein/ 2.6g net carbs)
- Swiss Chard (1.8g protein/ 2.1g net carbs)
- Kale (3.4g protein/ 1.4g net carbs)
- Asparagus (2.9g/ 2g net carbs)
- Artichoke (3.3g protein/ 2.5g net carbs)
- Brussel Sprouts (3.5g/ 4g net carbs)
- Mushrooms (3.6g protein/ 0.3g net carbs)
- Broccoli (4.3g/ 3.2g net carbs)
Micro protein is derived from fungi, it is blended with egg white and flavoring to make vegetarian burger patties, mince, chicken pieces/slices, ham, and so many other meat substitutes. It is low in fat, has a moderate carb content, and is especially high in protein. It is a complete protein, so it provides the body with all essential amino acids. Some Quorn products are quite high in carbohydrates, so you have to check the nutritional label. Here are some keto options (up to 5 net carbs per 100g)
Micro protein/Quorn Products/ Protein per 100g
- Quorn Chicken style pieces (13.8g of protein/ 1.7g net carbs)
- Quorn Mince (14.5g of protein/ 4.5g net carbs)
- Peppered Steak (11.7g of protein/ 5g net carbs)
- Smokey Ham Slices (14g of protein)
- Family Roast (16.7g of protein)
- *Brilliant Burger (16g of protein)
- Vegetarian Bacon (14g of protein)
- Roasted Sliced Fillet (13.7g of protein)
- Spinach and Red Pepper Slices (15g of protein)
- Vegetarian Chicken slices (16g of protein)
*The Brilliant burger contains 7.4g carbohydrates per 100g, but each single pattie is 3.2g of carbohydrates
There are so many vegetarian and keto-friendly sources of protein, that it wouldn’t be a problem to consume the required daily amount of protein and all amino acids.
I always try to find the products with the least carbohydrates, this can save you time searching the net. I always try to provide the correct nutritional information. I have taken information, for the above-lsted foods, from Wikipedia, amazon.co.uk, my local supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Waitrose), and the products I have in my fridge and pantry. Please note that the nutritional value may vary for you as the listed products are from natural origin and may vary in protein and carbohydrate content. Please check the nutritional value for the products you use at home, to archive accurate nutritional information.
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