Proteins are our superhero macronutrients. They help us build and maintain muscles. Without proteins, our bodies would not be able to perform a variety of bodily functions, including the regulation of the hormonal and enzyme balance.
In addition, proteins are a necessary nutrient to win your battle with weight loss and also to maintain your ideal weight.
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What Is Protein
Proteins are large, complex molecules that play a crucial role in our bodies and which enable optimal functioning of our bodies. Proteins are responsible for the proper work of cells, meaning for the fundamental physiological processes.
The human body contains 100 trillions of cells, and each cell has thousands of different proteins. These proteins provide the smooth functioning of cells.
When we consider the chemical processes in our bodies and the way our bodies work in regard to the role of proteins, it is worth mentioning the main functions of protein in our bodies.
Proteins are key agents for the growth and development of tissues and cells, and this means that they are responsible for the growth and development of the entire body.
Proteins stimulate biochemical reactions and enzymes are, in fact, proteins that are responsible for the proper functioning of numerous biochemical processes in our bodies such as digestion and blood circulation.
The chains of amino acids are made of various proteins and bonds and work as messengers that transmit information between cells, tissues, and organs. Proteins also structure the strength and elasticity of a number of body parts and maintain the PH balance in the body .
Apart from providing high levels of energy, proteins may combat many unwanted microorganisms and positively affect immunity.
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Why Is Protein Important for Weight Loss
It is common knowledge that proteins are necessary to lose weight but also to stick to the ideal weight after you’ve achieved your fitness goals. If you still wonder how do proteins work in the process of shedding extra pounds, here’s a brief explanation.
Firstly, proteins rapidly provide a feeling of satiety. The sooner you satisfy your hunger, there is less chance to take more calories than needed. Proteins increase the level of peptides who signalize a state of satiety to the brain.
However, before you opt for overeating protein or following a strict protein diet, it is important to know that you ought to take different types of food high in protein.
Lean meats, such as poultry are a great source of protein but it is also very important to eat red meat and fish because even if you are on a diet regimen, a varied diet is the only thing that will provide you with all the essential nutrients.
Other high protein foods include tofu, beans, lentils, Greek yogurt, nuts, and eggs. If you don’t like some of these foods, you can take protein powder instead. Read more about that here.
Also, bear in mind that products marketed as protein substitutes can never fully align with the effect provided by “real” protein foods.
The so-called full, complete protein contains all the essential fatty acids in amounts that meet the body’s needs.
According to medical professionals and dietary experts, the daily intake of protein is between 46- 63 grams for adults while athletes and people who underlie intense physical activity should consume more protein.
Animal proteins in eggs, meat, fish, cheese, and milk represent complete proteins.
Plant-based proteins usually have a lack of a single or more essential amino acids and are considered incomplete. A well- balanced vegetarian diet, however, may provide all the necessary amino acids to the body.
Here is a list of 15 foods high in protein that you can include in your daily meals or consume them as snacks:
High Protein Foods
Milk is one of the most commonly used dairy products that is packed with protein and a high amount of calcium. Milk replenishes the structure of your bones and muscles and, moreover, its sweet counterpart, i.e. chocolate milk is the perfect recovery post-workout food that is rich in carbs, whey, and casein proteins. If you’re not big fan of chocolate milk, add some milk to your favourite fruit smoothie.
Eggs are one of the highest protein foods that contain around 6 grams of protein and only 0.6 grams of carbohydrates. Eggs are also considered a perfect snack when boiled or healthy, satisfying breakfast in the morning.
3. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a low- carb food of only 6 grams of carbohydrates that provides eight grams of protein. This protein food can be a real energy booster pre or post-workout.
Cheese is a product that contains a dense amount of casein- milk protein whose intensity varies depending on the type of cheese. Swiss, Pecorino, Gouda, Edam and Parmesan are the most protein concentrated cheese with 25 g to 40 g of protein per 100 g serving.
5. Lean White Poultry
Meals that contain lean white poultry such as chicken or turkey breasts may supply you with 30 g of proteins per 100 g serving.
Try to avoid eating the skin since it has too many calories and fat but stick to the leanest meat, thus choose breasts, breast tenderloins (tenders), and wings.
Chickpeas are the perfect plant-based protein choice for many meal combinations. It can be added to salads, stews, pasta or curries or eaten as a roasted snack.
A 1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas contains 7 g of protein and, moreover, it is a healthy alternative to butter that you can add to sandwiches or use it as a side dish.
Spirulina is a mighty source of protein that is commonly used as a powder or a supplement.
It is green or blue algae that can be added to salads or homemade snacks to boost the protein content.
Spirulina is rich in vitamin B-12 but also minerals such as magnesium and iron. 2 tablespoons of spirulina contain 8 g of protein.
Plant-based source of pure protein, the quinoa is a grain that is a rich source of nutrients.
This grain contains 8 g of protein per 200 g and it is also full of fibre, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
Sprinkle some quinoa on salads, add it to soups and stews or eat it as a main course with a mix of vegetables.
9. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are highly favoured for their high content of Omega-3 fatty acids, fibre and protein but low- caloric value on the other hand.
As a potent source of protein, chia seeds contain 2 g of protein per 30 g. Add them to smoothies or soak them in water or dairy/ vegan milk to make a delicious chia pudding.
10. Greek Yogurt
Greek Yogurt is a portion of excellent protein-rich food. It contains both whey protein and casein, leaving a tangy, satisfying feeling.
Compared to the regular yogurt, Greek yogurt contains about twice the amount of protein or 10 to 20 g per serving. Make a homemade fruit Greek yogurt by adding chopped fruit and natural sweeteners like honey or agave syrup.
10. Fish and Seafood
These are great sources of protein with a low amount of calories but a high content of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Although many would consider these food products as economically unaffordable in the long run in their diet, there are convenient options such as pouched tuna or salmon that would provide up to 30 g of protein per 100 g.
11. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is one of the favourite protein-packed foods that are high in casein and contains 11 g per 100 g serving.
Cottage cheese can be served both as savoury snack combined with your favourite vegetables and as a dessert when mixed with honey, any type of berries or nut kinds of butter.
Although most of the nuts are known to be higher in calories than some other protein foods, they contain an immensely high percentage of proteins, i.e. up to 25g per 100 g serving.
Their high-calorie content is due to the dense amount of fats that in some nuts equals 65 g but on the other hand, nuts are a great choice for protein-focused diets since some of them contain a low amount of carbohydrates.
Nuts are also rich in magnesium, phenolic acid, potassium, amino acids, and flavonoids.
Peanuts, almonds, and pistachios are the nuts that contain the highest amount of protein along with essential nutrients for proper bodily functions.
Peanuts contain 25, 80 g of protein per 100 g serving and are full of healthful monosaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Also, peanuts are more affordable than most of the nuts on the market and this adds to their value.
Almonds are protein-rich foods that contain 21, 15 g of protein and are also rich in calcium and potassium.
Pistachios are not only a mighty source of protein but also contain antioxidants and fatty acids. 100 g of pistachios contains 20, 16 g of protein, and substantial quantities of vitamins and minerals, i.e calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
13. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein that can contain up to 30 g of protein in 5- 10 g serving which makes them one of the most nutrient and practical food choices that can be consumed as a snack on the go.
These seeds also provide vitamins, proteins such as iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and potassium as well as antioxidants that prevent premature cell aging.
14.Pulses (Beans, Lentils, and Peas)
Pulses are a subgroup of legumes or dry beans, lentils, and peas. They contain about 8g of protein per 100 g serving, along a solid amount of fibre and fat.
Pulses are food rich in protein that provide a rapid feeling of satiety due to their high protein and fibre content.
Baked beans contain 6g of protein per 100g serving while boiled lentils contain 9 g and cooked peas contain 5,6 g for the same quantity.
Pork is full of leucine and this makes it a great snack or post-workout meal. Leucine is a branched-chain amino acid that supports muscles and muscular activity but it is also used in the liver and fat tissues.
A 100 g serving of roasted, boneless extra lean pork contains 21 g of protein and only 5% of fat.
Pork is made up of protein as any meat. When cooked, there is 25% of protein by fresh weight whereas dry lean pork contains up to 89% of protein which makes it the richest animal source of protein.
The leucine in pork is also considered the only amino acid that prompts the growth of muscles and prevents premature muscle deterioration.
The Bottom Line
According to health experts and dietitians, you can lose weight and shred pound by eating foods with protein that will keep you full but also increase your muscle strength and mass.
Studies have shown that high- protein diets can also improve some health ailments like chronic diseases including high blood pressure and diabetes.
There are many sources of protein among the wide array of foods on the market. Protein is one of the fundamental elements of a balanced diet but sometimes it brings a lot of excess calories on your plate.
In order to meet your daily protein needs, opt for lean animal and plant-based protein sources that will provide you with a balanced calorie intake while also keeping you full.
Good sources of protein are also low-fat dairy products such as Greek yogurt or milk that you can easily incorporate in your daily routine. In addition, plant-based proteins such as peanut butter, nuts, and legumes provide enough protein that can satisfy your bodily needs.
According to the protein Reference Daily Intake (RDI) an adult who eats 2,000 calories per day should take about 50g of protein, although some people can increase this amount and feel specific benefits. Visit our article on how much protein you need per day to learn more.
Finally, you should have in mind that the individual calorie and protein needs depend on age, weight, height, sex, and level of physical activity. consult your doctor or health specialist before you start any dietary regimen for losing weight that focuses on protein intake for losing and maintaining weight.