Ask Denise: Is Plant Protein Healthy?

Denise Austin
by Denise Austin | 
Today we are going to look at a YUMMY topic - plant protein! I am a huge fan of eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, especially as sides or as a main meal. But I also eat meat daily - I love lean meats like chicken but also have a good burger and fries on occasion! The good news is that with all the abundance of plant-based foods available, there's no reason not to swap out meat protein for plant protein in some of your meals! If you're interested in trying a vegetarian lifestyle, even for a short time, I have the perfect challenge for you! You can do it with me for FREE when you begin your free trial!

Plant Protein

The National Academy of Medicine recommends adults get about 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of weight. This means someone who is 140 pounds should aim for 50 grams of protein every day. When it comes to your health, the studies do vary, but the overall consensus is that minimizing red meat - which is a good source of protein - can help to minimize a variety of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, premature death and more. The good news is that if you follow a high protein diet, there are healthier options to choose than red meat, and plant-based ones often offer up additional health benefits, such as fiber.

My favorite plant-based protein sources are quinoa (8 grams of protein in one cup) and cooked lentils (18 grams of protein per cup). Try my Bold Beet and Lentil Salad - hearty and delicious! Other good plant-based protein sources are nuts, beans and tofu, so if you want to get your protein intake without relying on meat, you can - and you'll still enjoy your meals! I use a lot of these foods in my Vegetarian Challenge, so if you would like to minimize your meat consumption and open up your meals to new and different foods, give it a try!!

See my favorite way to serve up quinoa:


It's true that it can be hard to replicate the taste of meat, whether its chicken, steak or a burger. With all the recent developments in the plant-based food industry, there are plenty of plant protein options: plant-based burgers, chicken nuggets and more. While I enjoy these products occasionally, I try to make the majority of my diet around plant-based proteins and whole, fresh veggies (and sometimes frozen when I am short on time!). This is what works for me... and I am not prescribing that everyone do what I do, but I find lots of fresh veggies and protein-rich foods like quinoa and lentils fill me up, provide me with the fiber I need to stay regular and energized, and helps me keep my weight in the range that is healthy for me.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again! I love to follow the 80/20 rule with food: 80% of the time I am eating healthy, and 20% of the time I treat myself! That helps me not feel deprived yet still eating a healthy diet! If you are looking for a diet that is healthy but still delicious and satisfying, in addition to my 7-day Vegetarian Challenge, try my Whole Body Plan! It includes an extensive recipe section with lots of protein-rich plant-based options, including Quinoa Pancakes with Warm Berry Topping, Tofu Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce over Brown Rice, Warm Quinoa Breakfast Bowl, Sesame Noodle Salad with Tofu, Red Lentil Soup, Black Bean Quesadilla, just to name a few! You have the option to choose an entirely Vegetarian Meal Plan, or mix and match to suit your mood... and it's easy to swap out meals so you stay within the calorie option you want to follow.

My bottom line is that if you looooove meat and eat a lot of it, balance it out with plenty of plant-based meals. Try to incorporate meatless Mondays into some of your weekly meal plans. Whether you make a quinoa salad, vegetarian chili with beans, or a tofu scramble, it will do your body good!

Let's get fitter, together - inside and out,


Plant Protein Video Transcript:

Hi everybody. It's Denise and a lot of you have been asking me, Denise, what do you eat for plant protein? Well, my very favorite is quinoa. Quinoa is a pure plant protein. And it's so good for you. And guess what I do with it? I add a little pesto to it to give it a little flavor. And pesto does have pine nuts, another source of protein. Then I put lots of veggies in it. I love a little bit of broccoli, some cauliflower, some great avocado and tomatoes, and that also has good healthy fats. And then I drizzle it with my favorite extra virgin olive oil, and it's so good. It's a perfect dinner.