Protein is one of the major food groups alongside carbohydrates and fats. It not only provides our bodies energy, it is also basic building block of our muscles and cells. Surprisingly, it also helps with improving our cognitive function. Protein is essential for healthy skin, bones, tissues, cartilage and other body cells.
Protein is converted to about 20 amino acids which are used in different functions of the body. High protein foods are recommended for weight loss because of two reasons. First, protein helps build and maintain muscles which are crucial to maintaining optimum metabolism. Second, protein is known to help keep your hunger in check. Both of these qualities of protein help you lose weight.
How much protein per day
On average, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.86 grams per kg of weight. This is the minimum amount of protein you should be eating every day. This translates to between 46 and 56 gram of protein every day for an average person. In percentage of calories, protein should be between 10-35 percent of your daily intake.(1) (2)
Why protein helps with weight loss
Protein, when compared with carbohydrates, takes longer to digest. And our bodies also have to consume more energy to digest protein. This not only keeps us feel satiated for longer but also we burn more calories to get calories from protein. (3)
Both these properties of protein can be leveraged to lose weight without even trying.
Best high protein foods
By adding more protein, within the maximum limit of 35 percent of daily calories, we can use high-protein low-fat foods for weight loss. But when it comes to protein, quality also matters. We have listed the top 13 high protein foods that will supercharge your weight loss. Protein can be had from vegetarian sources as well and some of the foods listed below are purely vegan and still packed with protein.
Chicken meat is an excellent source of protein. A 100 gram serving of chicken breast has 32 grams of protein which equals 64% of daily value of required protein. And it is lean protein if you consume skinless chicken without any noticeable saturated fats.
Seafood is great for healthy fats. Tuna is one of the most popular fish and is a cheap source of high-quality protein. 100 grams of tuna is packed with 30 grams of protein. Make sure that you opt for water based tuna canned fish because it will be free for any added fats. One 100 gram serving should account for 60% of your daily value of protein intake.
Lean beef is one of the most popular high protein foods. A 100 gram serving of lean beef comes with 28 grams of protein and equals 57% of RDI of protein. Opt for lean beef because otherwise it will have high amounts of saturated fats which might not be good for your cardiovascular health if you consume regularly.
Lentils are poor man’s source of high protein food. Almost all lentils are loaded with protein. A 100 gram of lentils has 8 grams of protein which makes up 18% of daily protein requirement. Lentils are great source of vegan high protein foods alongside tofu.
Another cheap high protein food is eggs. Two eggs carry 24% of daily protein intake requirement. You can enjoy scrambled eggs or boiled eggs. Make a delicious omelet occasionally to spice up eggs. If you want to be careful about cholesterol, you can use only egg whites where most of the protein is present.
Another vegetarian protein source is tofu. There may be different protein content depending on moisture in tofu. A 100 gram of firm tofu has 17.3 grams protein which is sufficient for 35% of RDI of protein.
Low fat yogurt
Yogurt is great for your gut health because of live cultures and probiotics. And it is also included among high-protein foods. One cup of low-fat yogurt accounts for 28 percent (14 grams) of daily intake value of protein. If you want to limit your fat intake, go for low fat variety of yogurt or Greek yogurt.
Another protein powerhouse is cheese which is packed with vitamin b12 as well as vitamin D. The percentage of protein varies according to cheese type. The Best protein filled cheese varieties are Swiss, Parmesan, Gouda, Edam and Pecorino which have up to 35 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Fish is not only a great source of healthy fats but it is also an excellent protein source. Protein content varies by fish type. For example, Salmon fish has 19 grams of protein per 85 grams serving which makes it a high protein food. And you get additional benefits that it is a low calorie foods rich with heart healthy omega-3 fats. It is recommended that you eat fatty fish at least twice a week as part of a healthy diet
These are a great high protein snack. A 50 grams serving of almonds is packed with heart healthy cholesterol, vitamins and 10 grams of protein. Therefore, you should keep almonds handy with you to snack on these because of all the health benefits they have.
Only one spoon of peanut butter has 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of carbohydrates which makes it a power food. However, while buying peanut butter, make sure that it doesn’t contain any addition of other fats and oils. Try to go as organic as possible with peanut butter.
This is surprising addition to high-protein diet. A handful of pumpkin seeds comes packed with 8.5 grams of protein which is 17 percent of RDI of protein. So if you get bored with the taste of almonds, pumpkin seeds can fill in as a worthy high protein snack.
Milk is an all-time favorite food with all the good vitamins and minerals. It is a great source of calcium, vitamin B and vitamin D. However, milk is also a high protein food. A cup of milk contains 8 grams of protein which makes it an ideal candidate for a healthy diet. Pick low fat milk if you are concerned about milk fats.
Is a high protein diet safe?
As long as you are not being excessively obsessed with protein, you should be fine with a high protein diet. Keep your protein within the recommended daily limit of 10-35 percent and you should be fine.
There is, however, one caveat. If you have any health condition, especially kidney or liver, then you should consult your doctor before making significant changes to your diet.