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Protein Needs

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

Q I follow a vegetarian diet and am having trouble getting enough protein. What foods can I eat more of without blowing my calorie allowance?

A It’s unusual for most people in the UK, including people who follow a vegetarian diet, to be lacking in protein. In fact, healthy eating guidelines suggest most women need only 45g of protein each day for good health.

Assuming you include dairy products in your diet, you shouldn’t have any difficulty meeting this. For example, a 300ml/1/2pt serving of skimmed milk provides a fifth of your protein needs alone. Low-fat yoghurts and cheeses are also good sources of protein, as are eggs (if you eat them). You may also want to eat more pulses as these are packed with protein, yet are low in fat and calories.

Meat alternatives such as Quorn, tofu and soya are also rich in protein and can be low in fat and calories depending on how you cook them.

Nuts and seeds are also a great source of protein but can be high in calories. Having said that, you really don’t need to eat a lot of them. Just 25g/1oz unsalted peanuts contain almost 6g protein, yet will add only 140 calories to your daily intake.

Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that foods like rice, breakfast cereals, pasta, potatoes and bread also contain some protein and these can make a significant contribution to your overall intake of this nutrient.

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Vegetarian Resources:

The Vegetarian Society http://www.vegsoc.org

Find out more about events, new recipes and veggie starter packs at: http://www.nationalvegetarianweek.org/

Recommended Vegetarian Diet Books:

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Using the food diary and database in WLR will enable you to see how much protein your diet is providing. You'll also see how many calories and other nutrients you need and consume. You can try it free for 24 hours.

Take our FREE trial »

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