Proteins are found in a wide range of foods and are important for our bodies. The body needs protein to build and repair muscles and tissues and to make hormones and enzymes. Protein-rich foods help you to lose weight and belly fat while increasing your muscle mass and strength. Proteins also help to lower blood pressure, fight diabetes, and more. Meeting your daily protein goals can be easily achieved by having a variety of foods. Animal and plant sources of protein include meat and fish, eggs, dairy products, seeds and nuts, and legumes like beans and lentils. Animal proteins contain all the essential amino acids required for the body. So they are considered complete proteins. Plant proteins are known as incomplete proteins. They usually lack at least one of the essential amino acids.
Here is a list of some important protein sources that you may include in your diet.
Whole eggs are the healthiest and great choice for proteins. It is rich in other nutrients as well. Eggs are the first and most important protein source for people trying to lose weight. One boiled egg, including the yolk, contains around 6 grams of protein and 78 calories.
Lean meats include beef, lamb, veal, and pork chops. Beef tends to be on the higher end of proteins. It also contains iron, vitamin B12, and other vital nutrients. One 3-ounce (85-grams) of lean sirloin steak offers 25 grams of protein and 186 calories. It is suitable for people on a low-carb diet. Lean pork chops consist of 31 grams of protein and 200 calories per 100 grams.
Poultry sources of protein include chicken, turkey, duck, emu, goose, and bush birds. Chicken breasts are great protein sources. It is very easy to cook and versatile. One roasted chicken breast without skin contains 53 grams of protein and 284 calories. Turkey breast is like chicken breast. It is rich in proteins with a little fat and calories. It is also high in various vitamins and minerals. One 3-ounce (85-grams) provides 26 grams of protein and 125 calories.
Seafood and fish
Fishes are a great source of important nutrients. It contains high amounts of protein and vitamin D. Fishes are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Their protein content is highly variable. Salmon contains 19 grams of protein per 3-ounce (85-grams) serving and 175 calories.
Tuna is a popular type of fish rich in proteins. It is low in fat content. One can (142 grams) of tuna fish contains 27 grams of protein and 128 calories.
Shrimp is a type of seafood low in calories. It is rich in protein and other nutrients like selenium and vitamin B12. Like fish, shrimp also contain omega-3 fatty acids. A 3-ounce (85-grams) serving gives you 20 grams of protein and only 84 calories.
Protein-rich dairy products include milk, yogurt, and cheese. Milk contains almost all the nutrients that our bodies need. It contains plenty of high-quality proteins. It is high in calcium, phosphorus, and riboflavin (vitamin B2) content. If you are following a purely plant-based diet, then soy milk is the alternative. One cup of whole milk consists of 8 grams of protein and 149 calories. One cup of soy milk has 6.3 grams of protein and 105 calories.
Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is high in nutrients. It has high protein content. It is very thick and creamy in texture compared to other types of yogurt. When going for Greek yogurt, opt for one without added sugar. Full-fat Greek yogurt is also high in protein, but it contains more calories. One 6-ounce (170-grams) has 17 grams of protein and only 100 calories.
Cottage cheese is a type of cheese rich in proteins. It contains nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12, riboflavin (vitamin B2). 100 grams of cottage cheese will give you about 23 grams of protein, which is more than an egg.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts, including nut pastes, are good sources of protein. Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, and cashews are sources of protein. They make for a great snack. Almonds are high in fiber, vitamin E, copper, and magnesium. 1/4 cup of almonds contains around 7.5 grams of protein. 50 grams of almond butter offers 10 grams of protein. It is much healthier than peanut butter as it contains more minerals and vitamins. Peanuts are rich in protein and carbohydrates. They are a great source of heart-protective monounsaturated, polyunsaturated fats, and folic acid. One serving has around 7 grams of protein.
Seeds cannot be left out of the group of protein-rich foods. Pumpkin seeds are protein-rich. 30 grams of pumpkin seeds provides 9 grams of protein. Quinoa is a popular cereal that contains all nine essential amino acids. 1 cup of cooked quinoa seeds gives you 8 grams of protein. Other protein-rich seeds include flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds.
Legumes and beans
This includes all beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, and tofu. Lentils are the best sources of plant-based protein. One cup (198 grams) of boiled lentils gives you 18 grams of protein. Other high-protein legumes are soybeans, kidney beans, and chickpeas. Tofu is a complete source of protein. Three ounces of tofu will provide you with around 12 grams of protein. It is good for those following a vegan diet.
Whey protein supplements
When you’re pressed for time and unable to cook, you can choose whey protein supplements. It contains high-quality proteins from milk. It can help you build muscle mass and aid in weight loss. The protein content varies across brands. Usually, there will be 20–50 grams of protein per serving.
How much do you need?
It is important to ensure that you get enough protein through your diet every day. The amount of protein you need depends on your gender, weight, age, and health. It is recommended to eat 46-63 grams of protein daily for most adults. Women need 46 grams of protein per day and for men, the protein needed per day is 56 grams. For pregnant and lactating women, it is up to 65 grams per day. An average of 50 grams per day is good and works for most people. People who are involved in sports and bodybuilding need to consume more protein.