Um Guia Completo sobre Fontes de Proteínas Vegetais

A Complete Guide to Plant-Based Protein Sources

It is common to see more and more athletes following plant-based diets, and the stereotype of the “weak” vegan is finally starting to disappear. As we will see in this article, vegetable protein sources are quite abundant, and, contrary to what we have been led to believe, proteins of animal origin are not a necessary element in our diets . Understand:

1. What are proteins and why do we need them?

Proteins are generally described as the “ building blocks ” of all living things. Our bodies break these “blocks” into small parts - the amino acids - and reassemble them in countless ways essential to regulate our systems and provide us with strength. There are around 22 amino acids that we need, and of these, 9 are “essential” amino acids, which must be ingested through our diet .

2. How much protein do we need?

Less than we typically think . Our protein needs are mostly dictated by our weight, taking into account the degree of activity to which we subject our body, as well. The more activity you do, the more protein you need - but in general, we need 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Body weight

Required protein intake (Approximate)















3. What types of proteins do I need?

Vegetable proteins do not lose anything to animal proteins, contrary to what is “common” knowledge. Look:

Animal Proteins vs. Vegetable Proteins

The “package” (or source) from which your protein comes is as important, if not more, than the protein itself. Normally, vegetable proteins are linked to foods that contain lower levels of fat and do not contain cholesterol. They are also often sources of antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals. Proteins of animal origin, in turn, are simultaneously high in saturated fats and cholesterol - without considering the load of antibiotics and hormones they carry.

All you need is to include a wide variety of foods to ensure all amino acids are being ingested on a weekly basis.

“Complete Proteins” and “Incomplete Proteins”

It is very common to hear the terms “complete protein”, commonly associated with products of animal origin - which would be foods that contain the 9 essential amino acids - firstly: it is not necessary to always ingest complete proteins - and you do not need to always vary the proteins to achieve the complete amino acid profile - take it easy: eat different whole foods that contain proteins throughout the day.

Another tip: Calorie intake - If your diet, for some reason, is a calorie deficit, know that the proteins ingested will be broken down to provide energy for your body, and not for essential amino acids. This is a very important point of attention to ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need and that the protein you are ingesting has the “right” destination.

4. High protein plant sources

First Place: Legumes

These are plants that produce their seeds in pods, and we normally mainly eat the seeds. They are all gluten-free, being good sources of unsaturated fats, rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals.


Source of protein, low in fat, high in fiber, and with 10g of protein for every 100g (after cooked). It is a well-known source of “veggies”, and a great substitute for bolognese sauces, lasagne, curries and daals. You can find a portion of brown lentils in the Arab Bowl .


Most beans have a very similar protein content, which varies between 7g and 9g per 100g. There are many types, among the most common: black beans, red beans (buttery) and white beans. Just like lentils, high in protein and low in saturated fats. You will find Beans in our Chili and also in Brazilian Feijoada .


If you've read an article talking bad about soy, in one of the many myths out there, don't worry: we're talking about an incredible source of protein with many health benefits: Edamame has 10g of protein per 100g - 12g of protein per 100g in the case of Tofu - this is an example of complete proteins (contains the 9 essential amino acids). You can find Soy in different formats in our dishes: Tofu Tikka Masala , Lasagna Bolognese , Brazilian Feijoada , Pad Thai


Well known as “petiscos” here in Portugal, they serve very well alongside cold drinks (we won’t say which one 🤪) and contain around 15g of protein per 100g (cooked). Use them as good snacks!


Yes, peanuts fall into the legume category! Each 100g of peanuts contains approximately 25g of protein - but be careful: it has 10g of saturated fat and, if processed, may contain a high salt content.

Point to watch out for legumes: Some people may experience intestinal problems when they introduce or significantly increase legumes in their diet. This is due to the insoluble fibers it contains (which helps with digestion). Either way, it can pose a problem if your digestive system is not used to it. To get all the benefits without the hassle, we recommend:

  • If you are changing or adjusting your diet, slowly introduce your intake over the weeks

  • Always soak legumes in water (dry grains) and change the water frequently during the process (varies depending on the type of grain).

Second Place: Whole grains


A great food to start the days. 1 Cup of raw Oats offers 10.5g of protein, and approximately 20% of the recommended daily dose of Iron. Point of attention: Avoid cooking, as it loses its nutritional value.

Whole Wheat Pasta

The simple habit of switching from white pasta to the wholemeal version increases protein intake by 2g and doubles the percentage iron intake.


One measure (cup) of buckwheat offers 6 grams of protein and almost the same amount of fiber. It is another excellent source of Iron and another series of vitamins and minerals, including Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Niacin, Zinc, Folate and Vitamin B6. It is an excellent alternative to rice and pasta. Buckwheat is the base of our Pad Thai dough.

Brown and Wild Rice

Despite being the lowest in protein, it offers a good source of carbohydrates and healthy calories that we need to use to maintain protein in our muscles. Brown Rice contains a good dose of Magnesium, while Wild Rice also contains Omega 3.

Third Place: Fatty Fruits and Seeds

They are absolutely excellent additions to a balanced diet, but we need to take the whole thing into consideration: they are high in fat and calories, therefore, they must be consumed in a controlled manner. They are a great ally for us, who follow plant-based diets: a good source of unsaturated fats and calories. They have high levels of protein and end up being even superior as a source of iron compared to grains.


Like soy, they are complete sources of protein (9 essential amino acids). It can be an excellent option for adding to soups and salads, instead of pasta. Offers 8.2g of protein and a good dose of Iron (reference 1 glass of Cooked Quinoas)

Hemp seeds

Another complete source of protein, ¼ cup offers 12.5g of protein and also a good dose of iron. They are also excellent sources of Omega 3.


An incredibly dense food: lots of proteins, also lots of fats and lots of vitamin E. Make use of the logic of fatty fruits: attention and control!


Nutritional profile very similar to that of almonds, half a cup contains 13g of proteins, and are lower in calories. It contains equivalent doses of saturated and unsaturated fats, being an excellent source of iron, magnesium and manganese.

Sunflower seeds

Add it to your cereals and breakfast, fry it or add it to a salad: it will guarantee a good addition of protein, fiber and iron. ¼ cup of sunflower seeds contains 6.25g of protein, and approximately 10% of your Iron and Fiber needs.


Vegetables are also great sources of protein: Peas, Kale, Mushrooms, Spinach, Corn, Broccoli and Asparagus are good examples of protein sources - even though they are less representative than the groups mentioned above, make use of them to complement your protein intake in a healthy way. healthy.

Summary: Give preference to proteins of vegetable origin - in addition to not being inferior, the source of these proteins brings additional benefits to your health, such as: antioxidants, less fat and cholesterol - avoiding the intake of hormones and antibiotics.

Bibliographic references:

  • (2019, Gardner) Maximizing the intersection of human health and the health of the environment with regard to the amount and type of protein produced and consumed in the United States
  • (2019, Mariotti & Gardner) Dietary protein and amino acids in vegetarian diets - a review
  • US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019.
  • NCCDB (Nutrition Coordinating Center Food & Nutrient Database)
  • (2018, Morton) A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults
  • (2017, Jäger) International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand - protein and exercise
  • (2016, Thomas) American College of Sports Medicine Joint Position Statement - Nutrition and Athletic Performance

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