5 Top Plant-Based Protein Sources for Athletes

When it comes to protein, beef, chicken, fish, pork and dairy products may come to mind. These animal proteins are high in the macronutrient, but they aren't the only foods that can help you meet your daily protein requirement. Plant-based protein sources, such as whole grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, can get you to your daily value, too.

As an athlete, it's important you get an adequate amount. Protein helps synthesize new muscles and repairs muscle damage caused by training.

How much protein you need depends on your age, size and activity level. Dieticians estimate the minimum daily protein requirement by multiplying the body weight (in pounds) by .37. For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds should minimally eat 55 grams of protein a day.

More: How Much Protein Do You Need?

Keep in mind that plants usually provide less protein and lower bioavailability (absorption) than their animal counterparts. For example, a 4-ounce burger has about 28 grams of protein and a 3.5-ounce piece of fish has about 22 grams.

Here's how the plant-based protein sources break down:

Whole Grains

Food Type




1 cup

8 grams

Whole wheat bread

2 slices

7 grams


1 cup

6 grams

Brown rice

1 cup

5 grams

Recipe Tip: Team oatmeal with walnuts and dried apricots or prepare a quinoa salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives and feta cheese.

More: 5 Super Grains and Recipes for Athletes

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