Building muscle essentially results from lifting weights and eating protein. Protein is an essential nutrient that your body requires to build and repair muscle tissue. And when you think of protein you immediately think of chicken, fish, pork, or steak. The truth is that many other foods have a high percentage of proteins and you can incorporate them into your diet to reduce your dependency on animal-based protein.
If you want to gain muscle and you are vegan or vegetarian, you are not hopeless. This article brings together a list of the top ten highly protein-packed vegetables that can help you build and tone your muscles, lose fat, and improve your overall health. Keep in mind that proteins in veggies are not complete proteins, so you cannot depend entirely on one vegetable to build muscle. Try to integrate all of the following veggies into your diet to get full protein intake and start building muscle naturally while enjoying the many other benefits that they have. Remember that it is recommended that you consume at least 5 servings of vegetables and legumes every day. If you're just beginning your vegan lifestyle, then check out the best vegan meals for gaining muscle. Enjoy!
1. Lima Beans
These are the highest protein-packed veggies of all. One cup of cooked lima beans can give you between 11 and 12 grams of protein, which accounts for 23% of your required daily protein intake. Besides this high protein content, they are also packed with fiber, carbs, and nutrients, making them a great food for post-workout meals that will satiate you and help you build muscle. The most common way to eat them is to boil them and process them to make a dip that can be added to pasta, chips, or other veggies.
2. Green Peas
Don't be fooled by their size, since they are one of the highest protein-packed vegetables. In one cup of green peas you can get between 8 and 8.5 grams of protein, which accounts for about 17% of your required daily protein intake. In addition to this, green peas are also packed with Vitamin A, fiber, and potassium. Green peas will serve you as a great protein source for building and toning your muscles and burn fat. Steam them and mix them with carrots, rice, or pasta.
3. Baked Potato
Most people link potatoes to carbs, when in reality, when baked, potatoes are also a great source of protein, vitamins, and potassium that make it a great muscle building food. One large potato can have between 7 or 8 grams of protein, which is around 15% of your required daily protein intake. The combination of proteins, potassium, and slow-digesting carbs make perfect food for muscle growth and recovery. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on them and enjoy.
This is one of the most densely nutrient-packed veggies in the world. To receive the full benefits that spinach has been sure to cook it first since one cup of cooked or steamed spinach can give you 5.5 grams of protein, which accounts for about 11% of your required daily protein intake. Besides protein, spinach is full of Vitamin C, folic acids, fiber, and other vitamins and nutrients. Eating spinach regularly while working out can help you build muscle faster since it reduces inflammation and eases muscle recovery. Now you know why Popeye had those huge arms.
These miniature tree looking vegetables are not only one of the healthiest veggies in the world but also one of the most protein-packed ones. Almost 29% of broccoli's dry weight is pure protein. In one cup of cooked broccoli, you can get up to 4 grams of protein, which accounts for 7% of your required daily protein intake. Besides being a good source of muscle-building protein, broccoli is also packed with essential nutrients, fiber, and vitamins. Either raw or cooked, it is truly a must-have in your diet.
6. Brussels Sprouts
These close relatives of broccoli are also a great source of protein and one of the healthiest veggies of all. One cup of cooked brussels sprouts contains about 4 grams of protein, which accounts for 7% of your required daily protein intake. Besides helping you build muscle, they also decrease your cholesterol levels due to their high fiber content.
No matter is they are shiitake, portobello, or regular white mushrooms, these fungi are one of the most widely used protein source veggies. Mushrooms have the same protein percentage in them as eggs, and in one cup of mushrooms you can get between 3.5 to 5 grams of protein. This means that one cup of cooked or raw mushrooms can give you 8% of your required daily protein intake. Besides offering a decent protein serving, mushrooms are full of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins that boost your immune system and strengthen your bones. You can eat them raw, or cook them in the grill or chop them and sauté them into a veggie mix to add protein to it.
Corn is considered a whole grain when it is served raw to feed animals, but when cooked and eaten off the cobb or as sweet corn, it turns into a vegetable. This widely-known food is packed with nutrients, protein, and fiber. One cup of cooked corn can provide 4.7 grams of protein, about 9% of your required daily protein intake. Whole corn is loaded with fiber and vitamins, magnesium, and potassium, while processed corn products are not so nutritious.
Regardless of its very low calories, these green sticks provide an impressive nutrient base. One cup of asparagus can give you 4.3 grams of protein, which accounts for 9 % of your required daily protein intake. The low-calorie level of asparagus (40 calories per cup) means that you can eat a lot of them without getting fat and take advantage of all of its nutrients. Besides protein, asparagus has a lot of essential nutrients and vitamins that help you reduce inflammation and improve your digestive tract. They are very versatile, you can boil them, make soup, add them into a veggie mix or eat them whole as a side dish.
These flower-like veggies not only a good protein source but they are highly recognized for their many medicinal properties. One medium-sized cooked artichoke can have up to 4.2 grams of protein, about 8% of your required daily protein intake. Besides that, they have very low fat, high fiber, and more antioxidants than most vegetables. They can be consumed raw, boiled, or in extract form.