Best Protein Foods You Should Be Eating
If you’re trying to lose weight, calm your cravings, and build lean muscle tone, then you need to include lots of high protein foods in your diet. Protein is the building block of muscle, so if you’re not eating foods rich in protein, your muscles can become weak and soft no matter how hard you work out. High-protein meals are also typically low in calories and take longer to digest than other foods, so you feel full longer and have fewer cravings after eating.
It’s typically recommended that an adult male have about 56 gram of protein per day and 46 grams for women, on average. This may seem like a lot, and many people have the mistaken idea that they need to eat more meat to get all that protein, but this simply isn’t true. While meat is a good source of protein, there are other foods that provide lots of protein and which fit into any vegetarian or vegan diet. Let’s talk about a few of those choices, along with the meats you might include when choosing protein rich foods.
Meat is often on everyone’s list of protein foods and still a staple in most people’s diets. A cup of ground beef offer about 22 grams of protein, pork about 23 grams, and chopped chicken around 38 grams. The downside of meat is that beef especially is very high in fat and calories, and many people are switching to vegetarian and vegan diets for ethical reasons.
If you still decide to include meat in your high-protein diet, just be careful of the cuts of meat you choose; opt for a lean skirt steak rather than hamburger if you must have beef, and switch to chicken as much as possible. These choices have far fewer calories and less fat than other cuts. Learn to cook meat without added butter and oil; grill or panfry your meat dish, using just a touch of cooking spray, and try spices such as oregano and pepper rather than salt.
Eggs have about 6 grams of protein and average around 70 calories each. This makes them a lean choice for any protein diet. They’re also a quick snack or breakfast you can take on the run; boil a dozen eggs and store them in the fridge, then peel one or two and put them in a zipper bag at night. In the morning, you have a quick source of protein you can grab on your way out the door. To avoid adding extra calories and fat during cooking, learn to poach eggs rather than frying them. Have some fun with omelet ingredients such as peppers, onions, avocados, and tomatoes so you get lots of vitamins and minerals in addition to your needed protein.
- Milk and dairy products
Milk has about 8 grams of protein per cup, so a cup of milk can be a great protein rich food to include in your daily diet. Use skim milk as the basis for a healthy protein shake, rather than water. Blend a cup of milk, a scoop of protein powder, some raw oats, unsweetened cocoa, and ice for a healthy and filling, high-protein snack or meal.
The average fillet of tilapia has about 29 grams of protein, while salmon does even better, topping out at about 39 grams! Fish is a low-calorie, low-fat, high protein food. It is rich in antioxidants and healthy oils needed for your skin and eyes. Get creative with fish dishes if the flavor seems a bit dull; mix up your spices and keep fresh lemons in the house so you can give them a squeeze over cooked fish. Add lemon pepper or chopped dill pickles to your tuna fish mix for a tasty sandwich, or add tuna to a tossed salad to get your protein and your veggies all at once!
For vegetarians and vegans, soy is a great source of protein, as one cup of soybeans has a whopping 68 grams of protein! This is one reason that soy is often used for protein shakes and powders, as it’s low in calories and fat but one of the best sources of protein available. Soybeans are also chockfull of calcium, magnesium, and iron, making them a good choice if you’ve cut out meat and are risking an iron deficiency. Switch to soy milk as a low-calorie, low-fat alternative to dairy.
Nuts are also a good source of protein and the fats needed for a healthy system for vegans and vegetarians. They will vary in protein content, but an ounce of almonds offers about 6 grams, cashews about 5, and plain peanuts at just under 7 grams. Remember that nuts can be high in calories and fats so use them wisely; switch to unsweetened almond or cashew milk or have a few peanuts ar walnuts on a salad. You can also use more peanut butter in your high-protein diet; smear just a dab on toast in the morning for added protein and energy.
- Beans and legumes
Yet another great source of protein for vegans and vegetarians, many varieties of beans are not only a good source of protein but also of iron and all the trace minerals you may be missing when you cut meat out of your diet. A cup of pinto, kidney, lima, and black beans all offer about 15 grams of protein per cup. To use more beans and legumes in your high-protein meals, cook up some vegetarian chili in a crock-pot and dish it out in individual servings you can then easily freeze, or cook up some black beans and rice and have this as a main course rather than a side dish.
Now that you have a great list of high protein foods, consider how you might include more of them in your everyday diet and get creative with your choices. Remember that the more lean protein you have, the stronger your muscles can become and the less likely you are to crave sugary snacks and between-meal treats. Having more high-protein meals can then be the key to losing weight and getting that toned and lean look you’ve always wanted.