Plant-based proteins have some advantages over animal sources. They provide more fiber and less saturated fat, and they’re also less calorically dense. So even if you’re not a vegan or vegetarian, you may want to include them in your meal plan, as a plant-based diet may even help you lose weight.
“My favorite sources of plant-based protein are those that come straight from nature,” says English. “When you consume food in its ‘natural packaging,’ you get a variety of nutrients.” You also cut out extra salt, fat and sugar, which can sabotage your weight-loss efforts. Here are some plant-based proteins to include in your diet when you’re trying to lose weight:
1. PULSES (AKA, LEGUMES)
Affordable and low in calories, beans and legumes contain about 100–125 calories per 1/2 cup, plus about 8 grams each of protein and fiber. “Eating pulses can help with weight loss,” says Amy Gorin, RDN. owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area.
If you’re concerned about bloating, start with lentils, split peas and canned beans, which seem to be easier to digest. Then keep eating them, says Gorin. One study found that gassiness mostly went away after a few weeks of eating beans daily. Rinse canned beans to remove gas-causing starches (this also reduces sodium), and soak dried beans to help digestibility. “You can also add digestion-helping spices, such as ginger, turmeric and fennel, to your recipes,” says Gorin.