Food

Fit People Swear by These 30 High-Protein Foods to Stay in Shape

13. Lentils Lentils are edible legumes that are affordable and provide plant protein and fiber. Half a cup or 100 grams of boiled lentils offers nine… Simi - April 8, 2019
Lentils. Image via Lentils

13. Lentils

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.

Red lentils. Image via Shutterstock

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.

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12. Almonds

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.

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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.

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11. Milk

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.

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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.

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10. Asparagus

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.

Green fresh asparagus. Image via Freepik

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.

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9. Tofu

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.

Fried tofu. Image via Freepik

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.

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8. Anchovies

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.

Fresh Anchovy Fish. Image via Shutterstock

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.

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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. Image via Shutterstock

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.

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6. Broccoli

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.

Broccoli. Image via Freepik

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.

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5. Coconut

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. Image via Freepik

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.

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4. Spinach

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.

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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.

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3. Cauliflower

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.

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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.

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2. Potatoes

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.

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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.

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1. Soups

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.

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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.

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