Table of Contents
Protein must be on your plate if you want to feel content after eating, support muscular growth, build strong bones, and boost your immune system. Carbohydrates and good fats, to be sure, play crucial roles in our general health and fitness. However, because protein plays so many important roles in the human body, getting enough of it should be a top priority.
However, a 2018 study published in Frontiers in Endocrinology found that higher-protein diets promote weight control, assist manage blood sugars, and increase the body’s ability to absorb calcium, eventually boosting bone health.
In short, getting adequate protein in your diet is crucial for maintaining your overall health and wellness.
What Is Protein?
If you’ve ever been on a diet or talked to someone about nutrition, you’ve almost certainly heard the term protein. While many individuals understand the need for protein, they may not understand what it is.
Proteins are made up of different amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. These amino acids are what the body uses for a variety of purposes, ranging from the formation of specific hormones to the construction of specific proteins within the body. As a result, when the body digests the entire protein found in a juicy hamburger or a hearty lentil soup, the amino acids that comprise that protein is absorbed and utilised by cells for a variety of tasks.
According to the National Institutes of Health, proteins are made up of 20 amino acids, each of which is classified as essential, nonessential, or conditional:
- Nonessential amino acids are those that our bodies can produce. They are not required to be included in the diet.
- Essential amino acids are those that our bodies cannot produce. As a result, they must be received through diet.
- Conditional amino acids are thought to be necessary during disease and stress. As a result, their essential categorisation is conditional.
It is feasible to receive all of the essential amino acids that the body requires, whether you are a carnivore or follow a vegan eating plan (or somewhere in between), as long as you choose to eat high protein foods throughout the day.
What Can Protein Do for You?
When most people think about protein, they think of bodybuilders trying to sculpt the perfect muscles. But protein is much more than a weightlifter’s best friend. Protein, or the amino acids that make up protein, serve a variety of important activities in the body, including:
- Promotes satiety, which may help with weight-loss goals.
- Reduces the likelihood of acquiring high blood pressure.
- Helps in the recovery of injuries
- Reduces the likelihood of developing sarcopenia (age-related skeletal muscle loss).
- Aids in the maintenance of the immune system
While protein is an important food to consume, that doesn’t imply you should consume copious amounts of it every day. The amount of protein you require is determined by several factors, including your weight, age, gender, and health state.
In general, most healthy persons require 0.8 grams of protein per kilogramme of body weight. This equates to 55 g per day for an average-weight inactive male and 45 g per day for an average-weight sedentary woman. If you are really physically active, pregnant or lactating, recovering from certain accidents or surgeries, or are older, you may need to increase your protein consumption. According to a 2020 Advances in Nutrition study, older people require more protein to maintain and build muscle.
8 Best high protein foods
Protein can be found in a variety of foods that you are probably already eating. While this macronutrient can be found in smaller amounts in meals like vegetables and rice, there are other high protein foods that are more effective at fueling your body when incorporated in a healthy diet.
Here are eight of the top protein-containing foods for you to consume to help you narrow things down.
1. Lean Beef
22 g protein (3-ounce serving) of 93% lean ground beef
Beef not only feeds your body with high-quality protein, but it also delivers vital nutrients such as zinc (which aids in immunity) and iron (which transports oxygen throughout your body). Try a Skillet Steak with Mushroom Sauce or a warm Slow-Cooker Beef Stew for a hearty beef dinner.
27 g protein (3-ounce serving) of skinless chicken breast
Chicken delivers a protein punch as a versatile dinner staple that is in many people’s rotation. An easy weekday dish that includes this crucial vitamin in a delightful way is Baked Lemon-Pepper Chicken or Creamy Parmesan Garlic Mushroom Chicken.
19 g protein (3-ounce serving)
Salmon is well-known for its heart-healthy lipids, but it also includes a substantial amount of protein. Eating fish at least twice a week diversifies your weekly protein rotation.
6 g protein (1 large egg)
Eating eggs is an easy way to get some high-quality protein. You can eat them scrambled or hard-boiled, or use them in recipes such as a Spinach Omelette and Egg Salad.
5. Peanut Butter
7 g protein (2 tablespoons)
Natural peanut butter is an excellent plant-based protein source that is popular among many people. You may eat it in a typical peanut butter and jelly sandwich, mix it into a Peanut Dressing, or make Peanut Butter Energy Balls for a quick snack on the run. Are you allergic to peanuts or seeking alternatives? Other nuts and seed butter contain equivalent quantities of protein.
8 g protein (1 cup cooked)
Pasta is commonly thought of as a carbohydrate source, yet a 2-ounce uncooked portion of basic semolina pasta has nearly as much protein as one large egg! For even more protein per mouthful, top your pasta with Quick Meat Sauce or enjoy a dish of One-Pot Italian Sausage & Kale Pasta. Looking for meatless accompaniments to your pasta? Our suggestions for plant-based protein pasta toppings will not disappoint.
7. Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
12 g protein (1/2-cup serving)
Creamy cottage cheese is a natural source of protein that is simple to include in a healthy diet. And using it in recipes like Creamy Spinach Dip and Florentine Lasagna Roll-Ups keeps the protein content high without adding any meat.
18 g protein (1 cup cooked)
Lentils are the ideal plant-based protein. They are high in this important macronutrient as well as antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Lentils may be a delightful way to get protein into your diet, whether you make a cosy Vegan Lentil Soup or a Lentil Bowl with Fried Eggs and Greens.