Plant protein: Get beefy without the meat

Plant protein: Get beefy without the meat

With NFL players Adrian Foster and Montell Owens going vegan, it’s becoming increasingly clear that you don’t need meat to get beefy. In fact, many different types of plant protein are considered quality protein for building muscle. Still, no one is going to build bigger biceps by eating a salad. Choosing the plants with the most protein and consuming them in six to eight meals a day is essential.

Protein shakes

Looking for a morning or post-workout protein shake that will build muscle mass? Men’s Fitness suggests trying protein powders with hemp, soy, whey, tempeh and casein. Many of these shakes boast more than 20 grams of protein, and also contain little or no dairy, making it easier for those with lactose intolerance.


This plant-based protein can be devoured in many forms. You can puree it in a smoothie, sauté it in a vegetable dish or even add it to cheesecake. With 20 ounces of protein per cup, tofu is a top-notch source of protein. However, nutritionists also want you to keep in mind that the protein from tofu isn’t as bio-available as meat, so you have to eat more of it to reap the benefits.


Popeye’s need for spinach before a big fight actually has some science to back it up. The Karolinska Institute found that the nitrate in spinach can build considerable muscle strength. Dr. Andrés Hernández, researcher at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, also notes, “nitrate is found naturally in several leafy vegetables, especially in beetroot juice, for example. There are currently no dietary supplements containing nitrate.”


Beans, lentils and even miso are all in the legume family and contain on average 8 grams of protein per serving. Try adding these forms of plant proteins to salads, soups, curried dishes and wraps.

Nuts and seeds

While this plant protein looks wimpy, vegetarians assert they are a great source of protein if you know how to use them. Adding nut butters to sandwiches, sauces and protein shakes, sprinkling sunflower seeds on sandwiches, and snacking on raw almonds can be a delicious way to boost protein and build muscle.