I want to talk about something that I have been struggling with recently and have talked with other plant-based diet eaters about trying to eat enough protein, but not eating an astronomical amount of fat.
DISCLAIMER: I am not saying that eating a high-fat diet is a bad thing. But it simply does not work for everyone (see my Diet Controversy post). It also is not an option for some people with serious health issues.
For the longest time, I have noticed that when I try to eat a high protein diet (or even just a maintenance amount of protein), my fat numbers are way above my healthy range. Let’s face it, a lot of vegan or vegetarian protein sources contain a lot of fat. Nuts are one example of this. There are many vegan cheeses, burgers, deserts, and pastas that are made from nuts. Nuts are a great source of protein for non-meat eaters, but guess what they also have a lot of? Fat.
I want to say again, eating fat is not a bad thing. You NEED fat to survive. But as someone who eats a plant-based diet and does not need to eat more than 60 – 70g of fat a day, it can be hard to find a balance between fat and protein in a days worth of food.
I know I am not the only one who struggles with this. So I decided to do some research. I’ve taken the past couple weeks to mess with my diet and see how I can balance out my macros and still eat the way my body wants me to eat.
Below I have made a list, which includes lots of delicious food that allow vegetarians and vegans to hit their protein without going over on fat.
Some food items are sold “low fat” which would vary these numbers. These numbers are based on items I bought at either Target or Whole Foods, and none of them are specially produced to be lower in fat or higher in protein. This is mainly a list of natural products, not 100% natural, as you will see, but pretty clean for the most part.
This list does not include: protein powders, protein bars, or other supplements. That is not my way of saying those products are bad, in fact they can be really great if you are struggling to reach your protein numbers. I personally have protein bars in my diet several times a week.
>> Lentils – Fat: 1g // Protein: 18g (1 cup)
>> Tofu – Fat: 6g // Protein: 10g (1/2 cup)
>> Tempeh – Fat: 18g // Protein: 31g (1 cup)
>> Quinoa – Fat: 4g // Protein: 8g (1 cup)
>> Flat Out – Fat: 2.5g // Protein: 7g (1 flatbread)
>> Black Beans – Fat: 0g // Protein: 7g (1/2 cup)
>> Kidney Beans – Fat: 0g // Protein: 7g (1/2 cup)
>> Chick Peas – Fat: 0.5g // Protein: 6g (1/2 cup)
>> Goji Berries – Fat: 0g // Protein: 4g (1 oz)
>> Brown Rice – Fat: 2g // Protein: 5g (1 cup)
>> Egg Whites – Fat: 0g // Protein: 5g (3 Tbsp)
>> Broccoli – Fat: 0g // Protein: 3g (3/4 cup)
>> Spinach – Fat: 0g // Protein: 2g (2 cups)
>> Edamame – Fat: 4.5g // Protein: 12g (1/2 cup)
>> Brussels Sprouts – Fat: 0.3g // Protein: 3g (1 cup)
>> Peas – Fat: 0g // Protein: 9g (1 cup)
** Note: Some of the veggies increase in protein when cooked BUT be aware that if you cook with oil, the fat will also increase. To prevent the fat from increasing, steam veggies instead of grilling, roasting, or cooking with oil.
** Another note: Some of the grains increase or decrease in protein when cooked. For exact numbers, check