There’s a good reason why we’re told to load up on protein. It plays several key functions in our body.
From forming our skin structure to rebuilding our tissues after an intense sweat session, protein proves to be vital for our body’s optimum performance. Without it, we couldn’t possibly function well.
Luckily, there are good and yummy sources of protein! Some of them may even be sitting pretty in your pantry already, waiting to be savored.
Adding these protein-rich foods in a well-balanced diet is also relatively simple. And because they're so easy to incorporate into recipes, you can enjoy their generous health perks fairly easy as well!
Grab your pen and paper and list down these top 10 protein sources on the planet to include in your grocery shopping list!
Why Do You Need Protein?
Fitness enthusiasts have all the reasons to love protein! Many of our body structures and functions rely on protein.
In fact, it is dubbed as the “building block” of our muscles, skin, cartilage, bones, and blood. Protein is also a key component in the formation of our nails and hair.
It is also used by the body to grow and repair tissues. What’s more, protein assists the body in making hormones, enzymes, and other body chemicals, too!
With all its significant roles in the body, it’s no longer a surprise why it’s considered a “macronutrient”. Along with other macronutrients such as fat, protein, calcium, and potassium, the body also needs protein in relatively large amounts.
However, unlike carbohydrates and fat, the body isn’t able to store protein, which means it can’t make use of it when supply is necessary.
But while the body needs to have large amounts of it, health experts and nutritionists do not advise on binge-eating protein-rich foods all throughout the day, every day. The best thing to do is to get the right amounts of protein from excellent food sources.
How Much Protein Should You Have?
But before we reveal what these top protein sources are, let’s first break down how much protein should you have. The thing is, the amount of protein you should get depends on several factors such as age, gender, and lifestyle.
And contrary to popular belief that more protein means more strength, only modest amounts are advised to be taken. Here’s what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicated in their guidelines when it comes to appropriate protein consumption:
Children aged two to six years old, most women, and older adults: Two daily servings of protein for a total of five ounces
Older children, teenage girls, active women, and most men: Two daily servings of protein for a total of six ounces
Teenage boys and active men: Three daily servings of protein for a total of seven ounces
This means, gobbling up a large steak that contains eight ounces of protein isn’t a very wise idea. You’re not only taking more protein than your body needs, but you’re also loading up on saturated fats, which may be bad for your health.
What Foods are the Highest in Protein?
Now that you know how much protein you need, it’s time to get to know the best food sources for this macronutrient!
These protein-rich foods are packed with other essential nutrients as well, so they’re sure to make a great addition to a healthy diet!
Many athletes are not very fond of red meat as it usually contains high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol compared to poultry products.
Iron is an essential nutrient that helps transport oxygen throughout our bodies. A lack of iron often results in feelings of exhaustion and fatigue.
Creatine, meantime, supports many functions in muscles such as adding muscle mass and helping muscle cells produce more energy while leucine helps to put protein to good use, particularly in your muscles.
It’s essential to note, though, that it takes longer to digest red meats like steak. And because this is the case, they leave you feeling satiated for longer, too.
They make an ideal weight loss food when coupled with a salad since they keep you feeling full but not as a post-workout meal since they don’t offer the nutrients needed to repair your muscles quickly.
A hundred-gram steak contains 34.5 grams of protein, 6.5 grams of fat, 207 calories, and around 22 percent of the recommended daily cholesterol intake.
2. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast is one of the best protein sources widely used in many kitchens around the world. It is well-loved by many fitness enthusiasts since it’s a great source of protein that’s very easy to add to any recipe!
What’s more, chicken breast tastes so good, especially when it’s cooked right. Chicken breast is low in calories and high in protein, which makes it a favorite food choice by fitness buffs and those who want to shed some weight.
You can savor more chicken breast without having to worry about excessive calories!
A hundred-gram skinless, cooked chicken breast contains 31 grams of protein, 3.6 grams of fat, 165 calories, and 28 percent of the recommended daily cholesterol intake.
Eggs are a rich source of protein and other essential compounds, too. Whether they’re poached, scrambled or fried, they bring all the healthy stuff to your muscles!
They are also highly versatile, and can be added to a vast array of dishes and recipes! Although some people prefer to leave out the yolk because it is high in cholesterol. The whole egg, however, provides more nutrients.
So, it’s best to take the yolk out only when you are going to consume more than two eggs on a regular basis.
One hundred grams of boiled eggs contain 13 grams of protein, 11 grams of fat, 155 calories, and 124 percent of the recommended daily cholesterol intake.
Milk is another complete protein source, containing all essential amino acids that are quickly delivered to the muscles. It is also particularly prized for all the benefits it has for bone health.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest three daily servings of milk for kids aged nine years and older. A 244-gram cup of whole milk contains 8 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, 146 calories, and 28 percent of the recommended daily calcium intake.
5. Turkey Breast
Turkey breast proves to be worthy of having an exceptional place in dinner tables what with all the key nutrients and valuable protein content it offers. Aside from protein, turkey breast is also a good source of iron, potassium, zinc, and phosphorus.
A hundred-gram of raw turkey breast contains 22 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat, 157 calories, and 21 percent of the recommended daily cholesterol intake.
In general, fish are rich sources of protein, omega-3, and healthy fats. One of the high-protein sources is tuna, which is low in both fat and calories. Like other fish, tuna is loaded with other vital nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin D, choline, potassium, and magnesium.
A hundred-gram cooked tuna contains 30 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat, 184 calories, and 16 percent of the recommended daily cholesterol intake.
Yogurt is the most popular probiotic food that keeps your tummy healthy and happy! A popular choice for a healthy breakfast, yogurt boasts high protein content and live active cultures that boost your digestive system.
You can easily enjoy it in a healthy diet. With some fruits and seeds, you’ll surely be delighted with a hearty breakfast or afternoon snack! A 200-gram cup of Greek yogurt contains 18 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat, 190 calories, and 8 grams of carbohydrates.
Quinoa is so nutrient-dense that it’s become one of the most popular health foods around the world. It is very high in protein and other important compounds like fiber, calcium, vitamin E, and beneficial antioxidants.
Vegetarians and vegans particularly love quinoa since it’s higher in protein compared with other plant foods, it’s gluten-free, plus it contains all the essential amino acids that you need! A cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of protein, 220 calories, and 40 grams of carbohydrates.
Tofu is another versatile ingredient that delivers complete protein, and generous health benefits. Like quinoa, tofu is well-received by vegans and vegetarians as it is also gluten-free and low in calories.
It is likewise a rich source of calcium and iron. One hundred-gram tofu contains 8 grams of protein, 4.8 grams of fat, 76 calories, and zero percent cholesterol!
10. Whey Protein
Whey protein is particularly popular among people who are following a certain fitness program. And while others think it is still best to enjoy nutrients from whole sources, whey protein provides the convenience you need for a quick protein fix.
It has been thought to help preserve muscle and lose fat, and suppress your hunger levels. Values vary depending on the brand, but some quality brands come with scoops that weigh 29 grams and offer 17 grams of protein.
It cannot be emphasized enough: Protein must be a staple in anyone’s diet. Luckily, there so many protein-rich sources that are not only nutritious but delicious as well!
What’s more, they are so simple to incorporate into many of our favorite recipes. So, if you want to boost your protein intake, look no further than the foods in this handy list. Make sure to grab them on your next trip to the grocery!