High-protein diets are often used by body-builders as a way of supplying protein to growing muscles. Protein, however, is essential to all of us. Protein forms the building blocks our bodies use to repair muscles, bones, and nerves.
Even if you aren’t following a high-protein diet, getting sufficient protein is vital. While the body stores fat for energy, it does not store protein, so you need to supply yourself with protein on a daily basis.
Failing to eat enough protein, especially when dieting, can cause muscle loss. That slows metabolism and makes weight loss harder, so make sure you get small servings of protein throughout the day.
How Much is Enough?
Adults should get up to 35 percent of their calories from protein-rich foods. For men this means about 56 grams, while women should plan on 46 grams. Of course, there are always exceptions. Pregnant women, athletes, and dieters are some of those who should take in more.
Eating foods rich in proteins is not difficult or onerous. Of course, as with fat, some foods supply greater amounts than others. If you are looking at boosting your intake of high-protein foods, here are some sources:
Red meats with little marbling are excellent sources. Lean beef can supply you with 36 grams per 100 grams of meat. Choose lean cuts to reduce your intake of saturated fats.
Chicken Without Skin
The skin of chicken is high in fat, so remove the skin when serving. The breast and thigh are particularly rich. Breast supplies about 30 grams, while a thigh will give you 10 grams.
Soy beans are another good source of protein, since a half-cup of cooked soy beans will give you about 15 grams, while a cup of soy milk can give you as much as 10 grams. A search online will yield numerous recipes involving soy beans. Soy-bean salads are especially delicious. It may be best to limit soy to fermented products, however, particularly if you have hormonal issues. There are two compounds in soy that are known to disrupt the endocrine system in both males and females.
Eggs are another excellent source. One egg contains about 6 grams. However, eggs also contain cholesterol – around 186 milligrams. Doctors recommend no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day, so manage the number of eggs you have. One per day is typically the most you should have.
Seafood is generally good as a source of protein. 100 grams of most fish contains 26 grams. It is also low in fat. While salmon is a little higher in fat than most seafoods, it contains omega-3 fatty acids – good fats your body needs.
You can get 6 grams per 100 grams of yogurt. Greek yogurt contains even higher concentrations – as much as 18 grams. It’s also delicious. Choose plain greek yogurt, not the sugar-added varieties. You’ll see a huge difference if you read the labels. You can always add fresh fruit if you’d like more sweetness.
Nuts and Seeds
Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and other types can supply about 30 grams for every 100 grams consumed. These can be used as snacks, as toppings for salads, or as additions to oatmeal at breakfast or in bread.
Finding the Right Foods
This list is hardly comprehensive. Fortunately, researching high-protein foods is easy – you can do it when you buy your groceries. Check for protein levels (and calories, always) in the foods you purchase. The American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) supplies a handy guide for understanding labels on the foods you purchase; you can find it here. Avoid processed foods – these may be high in the nutrients you need, but they are typically loaded with sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.