Top vegan alternatives to soy to build lean muscle

Many people believe adopting a vegan diet makes it difficult to get enough protein. And if you are avoiding gluten and soy, that challenge may seem even more difficult. Here are some great soy alternative protein sources!

1. Beans

Beans including lentils, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, and many more have an amazing amount of protein – one cup contains 12-18 grams of protein! Add to salad, soups, and entrees for a hearty meal.

2. Nuts

Nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts have a ton of protein, as well as additional nutrients, and can be consumed as a snack or part of a larger meal. Walnuts in particular are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.

3. Nut Butters

Nearly every nut out there also has a nut butter to accompany it – not just peanut butter, but almond butter, cashew butter, etc., so you can liven up your gluten-free crackers or bread or spread some on celery. Two tablespoons of nut butter have an impressive 8 grams of protein.

4. Quinoa

This hearty, grain-like food (it’s actually a seed) is an excellent substitute for rice, oats, and other grains. Add to soups or salads, or have as a side. One cup of cooked quinoa adds 8 grams of protein to your diet.

5. Hemp Seeds

These yummy guys offer a ton of protein as well as omega fatty acids. Besides adding to soups, cereals, and salads, you can also use ground hemp seeds to add to smoothies for an additional protein kick.

6. Flax Seeds

With 5.1 grams of protein per ounce, flax seeds also offer omega-3 fatty acids and have a high antioxidant rating, as well as being high in fiber to keep you feeling full for longer.

7. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds have an impressive 18% of their calories derived from protein. Raw, cooked, or roasted they make a great snack and can add flavor to just about any meal.

8. Chia Seeds

These tiny seeds are 20% protein, as well as offering a ton of fiber and five times more calcium content than milk. Enjoy sprinkled on your meals, added to soups, or grind them up and add to smoothies for an extra protein boost.

9. Sacha Inchi Seeds

In addition to being an amazing source of complete protein, the sacha inchi seed also offers a healthy dose of omega-3s – up to 17 times that of sockeye salmon! Enjoy them roasted as a snack or toss them on a salad.

10. Brown Rice

About 8% of the calories in brown rice are from protein and by adding this grain to your diet, you not only ensure you get enough protein, but you also get valuable fiber.

11. Greens

Greens like spinach, romaine and kale may not contain as much protein as nuts or beans, but if you eat several servings a day, you’ll boost your protein intake by 4-5 grams per cup, as well as adding important vitamins and minerals to your diet.

12. Peas

These sweet green guys contain 8 grams of protein per cup, and can be added to just about any kind of meal.

13. Avocado

This lush green fruit actually contains all 18 essential amino acids, making it a source of complete protein. They also offer omega-3 fatty acids, and trace minerals including zinc and selenium.

14. Broccoli

Nearly 1/3rd of the calories you consume from broccoli are protein-based, making it one of the highest vegetable sources, next to spinach, mushrooms, and watercress. Eat it raw with some healthy dip, or steam or lightly grill them to retain maximum nutritional benefits.

15. Buckwheat

Not related to wheat at all, buckwheat is actually a seed that is used like a grain. In addition to being a good source of protein, buckwheat is excellent at stabilizing blood sugar. You can enjoy buckwheat for breakfast as you would oatmeal, or try roasted buckwheat, known as kasha, as a healthy side dish.