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My top 6 go-to protein sources... when red meat's not an option

Updated: Apr 23, 2023

Protein is the cornerstone of any athlete’s diet. Repair, recovery, growth—protein provides muscles with fuel to heal and build mass after intense exercise. It’s also a vital building block for any body; without enough protein, your body will break down (think hair loss, brittle nails, increased risk of bone fracture).

Want protein? Eat some meat. Need it on the go? Grab a shake. Chicken, beef, eggs, whey—these are just some of the diet mainstays.

But when you’re a fit pro with reduced kidney function, these mainstays become a luxury to eat. You can’t down a shake; you can’t cook up a 1/2-pound burger. Instead, you have to embrace that part-time plant-based life and get creative with your protein sources.

Here are my top 6 go-to fare:


Per 130-gram serving: Protein: 7g | Carbs: 20g | Fiber: 4g | Fat: 2g

  • Low glycemic index

  • High in fiber

  • Packed with iron and calcium

  • Good source of B-vitamins

  • Versatile and affordable

0% milk fat Greek yogurt

Per 170-gram serving: Protein: 18g | Carbs: 5g | Fiber: 0g | Fat: 0g

  • Packed with probiotics

  • High in calcium

  • Rich in vitamin B-12

  • Good source of potassium

  • Excellent source of iodine

Low fat cottage cheese

Per 113-gram serving: Protein: 13g | Carbs: 4g | Fiber: 0g | Fat: 2.5g

  • Great source of calcium

  • Packed with magnesium

  • Plenty of phosphorus

  • Rich in folate

  • Source of B-complex vitamins


Per 28-gram serving: Protein: 6g | Carbs: 5G | Fiber: 3g | Fat: 15g

  • Excellent source of fat

  • No sodium or cholesterol

  • Low glycemic index

  • Naturally gluten-free

  • High in fiber

Extra firm tofu

Per 85-gram serving: Protein: 7g | Carbs: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Fat: 1.5g

  • Has all 9 essential amino acids

  • High in iron and calcium

  • Low in sodium

  • No cholesterol

  • Versatile and affordable

Red lentils

Per 35-gram serving: Protein: 9g | Carbs: 21g | Fiber: 8g | Fat: 1g

  • Low in sodium

  • Low in saturated fat

  • High in fiber

  • Packed with iron and potassium

  • Good source of folate

Not only are these foods rich in protein, but they are also packed with other vital nutrients. Plus, they’re versatile, which means I can use any of these ingredients in a multitude of recipes (you’ll see how when my meal prep blog launches)!

Is your go-to protein source on the list? What other types of plant-based proteins do you eat?

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