Fit People Swear by These 30 High-Protein Foods to Stay in Shape
Eating a balanced diet helps you stay healthy, and protein is an essential part of your diet. It is an important building block for your muscles, bones, blood, skin and cartilage. Protein also provides the hormones, enzymes and other chemicals your body needs. Eating a diet rich in protein can also help you lose weight. You feel full longer after eating protein, too.
And, when you combine protein with exercise, it builds lean muscle. It increases your metabolism, reduces your appetite and has an effect on the hormones that regulate weight. When you replace carbs and fat with protein, you decrease your hunger hormone and increase satiety hormones. You will lose weight because you automatically consume fewer calories without having to count them consciously.
The thermic effect of protein also means that when your body metabolizes and digests protein, it burns calories. When your protein intake is high, you can burn about 80 to 100 more calories a day. Eating more protein can also help to reduce your food cravings, making it easier to maintain your healthy diet. The following are some good high protein foods to eat that will help you control your weight.
Salmon is a fatty fish loaded with nutrients, including protein. It is tasty and you can prepare it in many different ways. A serving of 3.5 ounces contains 22 to 25 grams of protein. It may be more expensive than other sources of protein, but salmon can replace the meats that contain unhealthy fats, which are bad for your heart.
The well-known omega-3 in salmon benefits your heart health. Several recent studies have revealed that salmon contains small bioactive peptides or protein molecules. And they may help control digestive tract inflammation, support joint cartilage and affect insulin effectiveness.
Researchers are starting to learn more about salmon peptides and finding more potential health benefits. This is particularly true when it comes to inflammation of the joints. However, the contamination of salmon with mercury and pesticides are of some concern, so sourcing wild caught salmon is best.
The high-quality protein in eggs contains all nine essential amino acids. The body absorbs more protein from cooked eggs than raw eggs. Also, eating raw eggs also carries the risk of food poisoning and bacterial contamination. Eggs are low in calories and have numerous health benefits. They are inexpensive and easy to cook.
And when you eat eggs for breakfast, they keep you feeling fuller for longer. That satiety means you don’t overeat without having to try to restrict your calories actively. An average sized egg contains approximately six or seven grams of protein.
People tend to think that most of the protein is in the egg whites. However, the yolks contain about half of the egg’s protein. In a large egg containing about seven grams of protein, four grams come from the white and three grams from the yolk. You need to eat the whole egg to get the full benefits.
28. Black Beans
Black beans are an affordable source of protein and are easy to include in many dishes. They are good for your budget, your health, and your weight. Black beans contain 15.2 grams of protein per cup or 172 grams. In addition to being high in protein, they are also high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron.
Because black beans are full of both protein and fiber, they keep you feeling full much longer. And that is important if you’re trying to lose weight. Black beans contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber is beneficial for your heart health, and the insoluble fiber keeps your digestive system functioning well.
Just be sure to drink plenty of if you add black beans to your diet on a regular basis. Otherwise, you could have problems because the extra fiber requires extra water for digestion and excretion.
27. Chicken Breasts
Chicken breasts are a great source of lean protein. Most of the calories come from protein if you eat it without the skin. A skinless cooked chicken breast of 172 grams provides about 54 grams of protein. It provides approximately 284 calories of which 80 percent is protein, and the rest is fat.
So opt for eating chicken breasts instead of red meat if you want to lose weight because it packs a protein punch and doesn’t contain much fat. Also, be sure to cook your chicken thoroughly to destroy any harmful bacteria. One of the healthiest ways to prepare chicken is to poach it in a pan of boiling water.
Grilling it in the oven is another healthy option. If you’re planning on losing weight, nutritionists suggest upping your daily protein intake to about .68 grams for every pound you weigh. Chicken is so versatile, you can eat it almost every day in different ways.
26. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are full of protein as well as minerals, such as selenium and magnesium. They contain 19 grams of protein per 100 grams. One ounce or 28 grams of pumpkin seeds contains about 151 calories, mainly from the protein and the fat. The seeds are one of the best sources of magnesium, which is necessary for over 600 chemical reactions in your body. This includes controlling your blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of dietary fiber, too. It plays an essential role in reducing your risks of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. They are also full of antioxidants that reduce inflammation and protect you against disease. And best of all, incorporating them into your diet is easy. You can eat pumpkin seeds as a snack, add them to Greek yogurt or use them in salads, cereals or soups.
Not all cuts of pork are lean and healthy, but lean pork is a good source of protein. Pork tenderloin is the leanest cut. A 100 gram or 3.5-ounce cooked serving contains 26 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fat. Pork also gives you energy-producing B vitamins, such as B6 and B12. Remember, pork chops are higher in fat than pork tenderloin. And pork sausage is full of fat, so you should not eat it if you’re trying to lose weight.
As pork contains saturated fat, the leaner it is, the better. Also, you need to carefully control your portion sizes. Lean pork is versatile, relatively inexpensive and makes an excellent addition to a healthy diet. Eat it in a stir-fry with plenty of vegetables for a sustaining, healthy meal. Pistachio-covered pork tenderloin will make your mouth water and offer a protein-packed meal, too.
You may find it difficult to believe, but roast beef is quite lean, contains all nine of the amino acids your body needs and offers a good dose of iron. A three-ounce serving of roast beef contains 18 grams of protein. Think about eating beef jerky as a snack. It is a portable protein. Just make sure it’s made from lean cuts and is all-natural. Also, look for jerky that is low sodium and is free of artificial flavors and nitrates.
A one-ounce serving will give you 13 grams of protein. If you eat ground beef, make sure it’s extra lean. For instance, 90-percent lean ground beef gives you 230 calories with 12 grams of fat of which 4.8 is saturated fat. Consuming too much saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease, so go for other sources of protein than ground beef if you’re trying to lose weight and stay healthy.
Avocados are calorie-dense, so portion control is necessary. But they contain protein, unsaturated fats, fiber and nutrients. A whole fresh avocado may contain three grams of protein. This is not a significant amount, but they also contain six grams of unsaturated fat per 50-gram serving.
Avocados contain almost no sugar and provide unsaturated fat, so researchers suggest eating them may support weight management and heart health. Avocados make a delicious, creamy addition to any healthy diet, as long as you control the portion size. But don’t necessarily rely on them as a potent source of protein.
The daily recommended intake of protein for sedentary males is 56 grams and for females, its 46 grams. So, you would have to eat a lot of avocados to get enough protein if you’re using them as the primary source. However, that shouldn’t stop you from including them as part of a healthy diet.
For those trying to reduce the intake of animal products, boiled soybeans, known as edamame, provide the highest source of protein. A cup of cooked soybeans contains about 29 grams of protein. Soybeans contain all nine essential amino acids the body needs that it cannot make itself. They also carry a broad spectrum of minerals and vitamins.
You can boil or steam soybeans and serve them with a little salt when you eat them by hand. Also, you can shell the soybeans and cook them the same way as any other beans. Mix them with black beans and green beans and toss them in a light dressing for a side dish. Try soybeans instead of chips as a healthy alternative when you want a salty-tasting snack. Only add a light sprinkling of salt, especially if you have problems with high blood pressure.
Oats are a source of protein as well as complex carbohydrates. The more processed the oats, the less protein they contain. A half cup or 40 grams of dry whole oats contains about 6.75 grams of protein. Oats are easy to prepare, and you can add flavor with nuts or fruit. Avoid instant oats as it often contains added sugar and less protein.
Oats are high in soluble fiber and low in sodium and fat. The soluble fiber makes you feel full and is suitable for your digestive system. Start your morning with a bowl of oats. And if you add more protein in the form of nuts or fruit, it will sustain you for quite a while.
Another tasty option is to add a swirl of almond butter or honey. Fresh berries, such as blueberries, strawberries or raspberries will give your oats a touch of sweetness.
20. Greek Yogurt
Plain, low-fat Greek yogurt offers 10 grams of protein per 100 grams. Greek yogurt is made by straining out the whey in regular yogurt. This makes it thicker and creamier. Also, Greek yogurt contains less sugar and more protein than regular yogurt.
The combination of protein and texture in Greek yogurt makes you feel fuller. And that is helpful if you’re trying to control portion sizes. If you need to avoid meat, Greek yogurt is a good source of protein. It is easy to add to smoothies or mix with whole-grain cereal for breakfast.
Add two tablespoons of chia seeds to your Greek yogurt for a boost of extra protein and some fiber. Use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream on your baked potatoes, and you will save 78 calories, as well as seven grams of saturated fat with every quarter cup.
Quinoa is the seed of a leafy plant that’s a relative of spinach. It contains all the amino acids the body can’t make, so it’s an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans. Many whole grains do not include the amino acid, lysine, or don’t contain much of it. A cup of cooked quinoa contains eight grams of protein, which is more than brown rice or barley.
Quinoa is also a good source of fiber, iron, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium. Always rinse quinoa thoroughly before you cook it. That will remove the bitter coating on the seeds. Eat quinoa in moderation because one cup contains 220 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.
Quinoa is versatile and looks somewhat like couscous. You can pair it with stir-fries, beans, chili or curries, too. Also, you can use quinoa as a substitute for rice.
18. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese contains 11.12 grams of protein per 100 grams. It provides essential nutrients such as vitamin A, calcium, folate and iron. If you’re trying to decrease your saturated fat intake and lose weight, substitute it for other soft cheeses that contain more saturated fat. Cottage cheese contains a lower amount of lactose than other dairy products, so people who have problems digesting lactose may find it tolerable.
If you’re on a low carb diet, Greek yogurt is a slightly better choice than cottage cheese as it contains fewer carbohydrates. Some people believe that eating cottage cheese before they go to bed at night helps them to burn more calories during the night. But eating cottage cheese at night will make you gain weight if you’re consuming more calories than your body needs during the day. Add cottage cheese to your diet by using it in a salad or as a dip.
Chickpeas contain 8.86 grams of protein per 100 grams. A cup of chickpeas contains less than a gram of saturated fat. Also, they are cholesterol-free, so they make a heart-healthy meat substitute. Try to consume chickpeas together with whole grains because the chickpeas alone don’t contain all the amino acids your body needs.
Eating chickpeas can help you to control your weight as they will keep you feeling full for longer. Arm yourself with a can of humble chickpeas, and you can make everything from a dip to a meat-free main meal. Chickpeas in your lunch salad will keep you going till your evening meal without having to snack in between.
You can make hummus from chickpeas, too. Spread some hummus on a whole grain wrap or use whole grain couscous with your chickpea and vegetable curry. You could even try a vegetarian burger using chickpeas, mushrooms, peas, oats and black pepper.
Tuna is an excellent source of protein with a low-calorie count and minimal fat. It is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. A three-ounce serving of cooked yellowtail tuna contains 26 grams of protein. A 3.5 ounce serving of chunky light meat tuna in oil will give you more than 20 grams of protein and contains 0.5 grams of fat.
Canned tuna in water contains about 20 grams of protein and less fat. Tuna is relatively inexpensive and versatile. You can add it to salads and snacks, eat it in sandwiches or as a main meal with pasta or rice. Remember that any additional dressings, such as mayonnaise, will add calories.
Large, deep sea fish like tuna can collect mercury in their bodies, so mercury toxicity may be a concern when eating fresh or canned tuna. The FDA suggests limiting canned tuna consumption to 12 ounces per week.
Halibut is a high quality, complete protein. A three-ounce serving of cooked halibut contains 19 grams of protein. This portion offers men 34 percent and women 42 percent of the recommended daily intake of protein. Halibut also contains vitamin B12, potassium, selenium, vitamin B6, niacin and phosphorous.
It provides 0.5 to 2.5 grams of total fat, but like tuna, halibut is a rich source of essential omega-3 fatty acids for heart health. Half a fillet of halibut can supply over one-third of your dietary needs for minerals and vitamins. The selenium, omega-3, and niacin in halibut can help fight the inflammation that contributes to illness.
There are pros and cons to both wild-caught and farm-raised halibut. But the nutritional differences are insignificant. Halibut tends to be low in mercury content and is safe to eat in moderate amounts.
14. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are edible seeds from a member of the mint family you can find in abundance in southern Mexico. The seeds may be tiny, but they are nutrient-dense. Chia is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and calcium. Also, they contain over five grams of protein per ounce.
Because chia seeds are full of fiber. In fact, only two tablespoons provide you with 40 percent of your recommended daily intake of fiber. They are also good for your digestive system. These tiny seeds stabilize your blood sugar and lower cholesterol. Chia seeds are so rich in antioxidants, you can store them for a reasonably long period without any problem. Vegans often substitute eggs with chia seeds since they absorb water and hold things together.
All they do is replace one large egg with a tablespoon of ground chia seeds and three tablespoons of water. Also, chia seeds make a great addition to a smoothie. But, never eat them dry, as that could cause choking, especially in people with trouble swallowing. So, always soak them in water or add to a liquid.
Lentils are edible legumes that are affordable and provide plant protein and fiber. Half a cup or 100 grams of boiled lentils offers nine grams of protein. Of all the nuts and legumes, lentils provide probably the third highest levels of protein. Lentils don’t contain all the amino acids your body needs.
However, eating them together with other incomplete proteins, such as brown rice, ensures you get all the amino acids your body needs. Apart from the protein, they also contain many other nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, niacin, and folate. A half cup of lentils also contains roughly eight grams of dietary fiber.
Animal sources of protein lack the fiber in lentils and other legumes. Lentils provide you with a significant amount of the protein you need on a daily basis. And finally, you’ll get the soluble fiber that offers many health benefits, including reducing high cholesterol levels, from them.
Almonds are quite high in calories, but with adequate portion control, they provide a filling protein-rich snack. They increase your satiety, too. That means you feel full after eating them, so you are better able to control your eating habits. Eating 10 almonds provides you with about 2.5 grams of protein.
This isn’t a significant amount, and unlike animal protein, almonds don’t contain all the amino acids. However, as long as you eat them in conjunction with other high protein foods, it isn’t a problem. Almonds are also a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin E.
They contain about six grams of fat and about a gram of fiber. Most of the fat is unsaturated fat, so if you eat them to replace foods with saturated fats, it’s better for your heart health. Eat a couple of almonds if you’re feeling hungry to avoid filling up on unhealthy snacks.
Cow’s milk is a good source of protein for individuals who can drink milk. A serving of 100 grams of milk contains 3.4 grams of protein. Milk contains two types of protein, casein and whey. Whey is known as a “fast” protein. It breaks down into amino acids and quickly absorbs into the bloodstream, which is why it’s an excellent protein to consume after exercise.
Both casein and whey contain all the essential amino acids. Milk also contains valuable calcium to keep your bones and teeth healthy. You probably believe that you should drink low-fat milk or skim. However, the majority of scientific studies show that drinking whole milk improves cholesterol levels, just not as much as drinking skim milk.
Drinking two glasses of milk a day can lower your risk of a heart attack. And if you’re uneasy about the antibiotics they give to cows, it is possible to buy antibiotic-free milk. The same goes for hormones and other substances.
A cup or 134 grams of asparagus contains three grams of protein and only 27 calories. The protein accounts for almost 30 percent of the calories. The amino acids called asparagines in asparagus makes it a natural diuretic. It can help prevent infections of the urinary tract. Asparagus also contains vitamin E, which improves the health of your skin.
Other nutrients it contains are vitamin B6, A and K, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and copper. Asparagus may also have prebiotic benefits as it’s believed to stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestines. Asparagus has a distinct flavor and is delicious steamed, boiled, grilled or pan-fried.
Roast thick asparagus spears in olive oil and a little lemon juice. You can add garlic, salt, and pepper for a delicious side dish. You can even serve asparagus raw with a yogurt dip. Also, it is wonderful in salads.
Tofu, or bean curd, is made from coagulated soy milk pressed into blocks. It is an excellent alternative to meat and is a staple in many Indian dishes. A quarter block of tofu contains 12.8 grams of protein and 117 calories. Apart from protein, tofu is rich in other nutrients, such as iron and calcium.
Better yet, tofu is also low in calories. But one of the best things about tofu is that it will take on the flavor of the foods it’s cooked with. This makes it quite versatile. In fact, you can use tofu instead of chicken or beef in a stir-fry. One delicious way to prepare tofu is to grill it and serve it with a peanut and coconut sauce.
There is some controversy over the health benefits of some soy products, particularly those with estrogen-like substances. So, avoid soy isoflavone supplements and foods containing soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein in protein powders and health bars. The good news is, tofu is a whole soy product, so if you eat it in moderation, there’s no reason to eliminate it from your diet.
Anchovies are small, oily fish that usually travel in schools. They may have a pungent smell, but don’t turn up your nose because they have many health benefits. An ounce of European anchovies contains 5.7 grams of protein and just 37 calories. As well as protein, anchovies contain calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are essential to bone health.
Calcium stimulates the blood vessels in the heart and magnesium relaxes them, so together they benefit heart function and blood pressure. Anchovies often come in cans. Although those in cans are not nutritionally deficient, they do contain excess sodium. So if you can get hold of fresh anchovies, that is much better.
As anchovies are small fish, they also contain the least number of harmful chemicals in larger fish. You only need to add a small number of anchovies to a dish because of their strong flavor. Try adding some grilled or sautéed anchovies to pasta and tomato sauce.
7. Hemp Seeds
Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species, but it doesn’t have the psychoactive properties. The seeds are the nut or fruit of the hemp plant. The husk is usually removed, and the inside is white and soft. An ounce of hemp seeds contains 9.2 grams of protein and 161 calories. For those who are allergic to soy, hemp seeds provide an alternative source of protein, containing many of the essential amino acids your body needs,
Hemp seeds are good for people trying to reduce their carbohydrate intake, too. They are a low carbohydrate option with about 33 percent coming from protein and about 40 percent from healthy fats. You can eat a handful of the shelled seeds, toasted or raw, as a nutritious snack. As hemp seeds have a smooth, nutty taste, they are delicious in cereals and snacks, such as muesli bars.
Like cabbage, broccoli is a brassica. It’s one of the best green vegetables to include in your diet. One broccoli stalk contains 4.3 grams of protein and 51 calories. Broccoli is full of phytochemicals, which makes it an anti-cancer food. It’s also a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber.
The insoluble fiber helps with digestion and when you’re trying to lose weight. The soluble fiber helps regulate cholesterol and blood glucose. The vitamin K in broccoli improves calcium absorption and enhances bone health.
When buying broccoli, choose vegetables that don’t have brown or yellow spots. The stem should be firm, and the crown should be springy and tight. Limp florets are a sign that the broccoli is old. Add a cup of steamed broccoli to your daily diet or consume it raw in a salad. Lightly cooked broccoli stalks with lemon and a little butter are delicious.
The meat of a medium coconut contains 13.2 grams of protein and about 1,400 calories. But eating coconut for weight loss is controversial. It has a high-calorie count, and a two-inch chunk of coconut contains 15 grams of fat, most of which is saturated fat. However, some studies have shown that raw coconut may help with weight loss because it contains medium-change triglycerides that affect metabolism.
Coconut comes in many forms, water, oil, milk and meat, so it is easy to add to the diet. As it contains saturated fat, be careful to control your intake if you want to lose weight. Coconut meat tastes good, and you can eat it raw as a snack. Dried, flaked coconut is useful in many dishes. Also, coconut milk adds that extra special touch to chicken curry and many Asian dishes.
Spinach is a nutrient-dense leafy vegetable that has excellent health benefits. A 100-gram serving of spinach contains about three grams of protein. It contains all the essential amino acids and protein makes up 30 percent of its calories. Spinach also contains vitamin A and vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, folate and manganese.
It’s also rich in antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation and nitrates. Spinach increases nitric oxide, lowers blood pressure and improves heart health. Just a cup of cooked spinach contains over six milligrams of iron. In fact, it has more potassium than a banana.
Spinach is a versatile vegetable and combines well with cheeses, like feta. You can add feta to a spinach salad. Add it to a smoothie, eat it with pasta and use it as a side dish. Enjoy a spinach, potato, and red pepper frittata. Or, you can add some spinach to soups, casseroles and omelets.
Cauliflower is a healthy vegetable with significant health benefits. Its unique plant compounds may reduce the risk of several diseases. One large cauliflower head contains 16.6 grams of protein and about 210 calories. Cauliflowers are rich in choline, which has several essential functions in the body. Choline improves sleep, enhances memory and assists in fat absorption.
Not many vegetables contain choline, but a cup of cauliflower contains 45 mg. The vitamin K in cauliflower helps give you healthy bones. Eat cauliflower with cheese as a delicious side vegetable or use it to replace the carbohydrates in a low-carb diet.
Make a mash with garlic and salt to take the place of mashed potatoes. Replace rice with grated, cooked cauliflower. Combine pulsed cauliflower with eggs to make low-carb tortillas or wraps.
Potatoes have a bad reputation when it comes to losing weight, although they have a diverse range of nutrients. Boiled in the skin, a large potato of about 300 grams contains six grams of protein and 261 calories. They’re rich in minerals and vitamins, such as potassium and B vitamins.
The high potassium content helps to control blood pressure. Potatoes are filling, so if you eat potatoes, they will reduce your appetite and prevent you from snacking on other unhealthy foods. However, baked potatoes are more nutrient-dense than boiled potatoes. Also, they contain more magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and folate.
Also, if you peel a potato before boiling or baking, it loses some of the mineral content. As long as you eat potatoes without a ton of cream or butter, they will help you reach your weight loss goals.
Soup is said to be an effective protein diet. Adding soups to your diet can effectively make you feel fuller. It is a balanced diet rich in proteins and carbohydrates. Just like salads, a full bowl of soup can keep you energized and satiated for a long time.
A comfort food, soups are highly recommended to those who are overweight and need to lose weight in tremendous amounts. As soups are easy to digest, having it before a meal reduces your appetite, which results in weight loss.
Unless the soup is full of butter, cream or cheese, you can rely on the health benefits of this magical semi-liquid food served. Instead, the best way is to enrich your soup with extra fibrous vegetables, beans, lentils and meats. And lastly, if you need to avoid sodium, check the labels and opt for the low-sodium variety.