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17 Protein-Rich Foods For A Healthy Life

By Riddhi Parmar +2 more

Nowadays, people are more health-conscious and fitness enthusiasts who are very particular about their high protein diet plans. But why protein diet? Protein is an essential micronutrient for proper cell growth and to keep your body functioning well. If you are doing exercise daily then your body may need extra proteins to maintain and repair tissues, muscles.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

The daily requirement of protein may vary according to the age, weight, gender, and level of physical activity. The nutritional value of proteins is measured by the number of amino acids. The recommended daily dose of protein is between 46-63 grams for adults and it may increase to 65 grams in pregnant and lactating females.

What are the health benefits of Protein? 

Did you know that a cup of cooked lentils contains approximately 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fibre? What’s more, lentils are low in saturated fat and sodium, making them a healthy choice for your diet. The high protein content of lentils can support muscle growth and repair, while fibre helps promote digestive health and aids in managing cholesterol levels.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Protein-rich foods benefit weight loss and weight gain and aid metabolic health. Some other health benefits include:

1. Curbs hunger and appetite

Protein suppresses your hunger hormone ghrelin and boosts levels of peptide YY. this helps to promote a feeling of fullness and prevents you from eating unnecessarily. 

2. Increases strength and muscle mass

Protein is believed to be the building block of muscle and so, eating protein-rich foods is especially important if you are engaged in strength training. 

According to the recommendations of the National Academy of Medicine, it is important for adults to consume a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day. This means that for every 20 pounds of body weight, you should aim to consume just over 7 grams of protein.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

3. Great for improving bone health 

Studies have revealed that a diet rich in protein, especially animal protein may help to maintain bone health as you age thus, lowering the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. 

4. Reduces binging habits 

Eating breakfast or dinner high in protein will restrict you from indulging in mid-meal snacks or late-night snacks which can be very helpful for overweight adolescent boys and girls trying to lose weight healthily. 

5. Boosts fat burn

Eating protein boosts your metabolism by degrees and helps you to burn excess fat faster. 

6. Reduces blood pressure 

Contrary to popular belief eating a low-fat protein diet can help to reduce chances of heart attack, stroke and kidney conditions. This is because protein helps to lower systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. 

7. Good for  kidney health 

A protein-heavy diet can negatively impact those with already existing kidney disorders but for people with healthy kidneys, consuming protein-rich food is not harmful.

8. Helps in speedy repair after injury 

Protein is the building block of organs and tissues and so it speeds up recovery after an injury. 

9. Maintains fitness even as you age 

One of the many effects of ageing is sarcopenia which is responsible for bone fractures, frailty and an overall lowered quality of life. Protein slows down the process of muscle deterioration and protects you from early sarcopenia. 

Surprisingly, plant-based foods are actually the leading source of protein worldwide. They make up 57% of the daily protein intake, while meat only contributes 18%. This means that foods like legumes, grains, nuts and seeds play a significant role in meeting our protein needs.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

Also Read: Are Eggs Dairy? Debunking Food Misconceptions

What Are The High Protein Rich Foods?

Different food contains different proteins and they have various roles in our body. There are 9 essential amino acids that are not naturally found in the body. Hence, we need to include protein foods in our diet to get proteins easily for the bodies. Here are some high protein food options for you to get the best out of your body.

1: Chicken 

Boneless and skinless chicken breast is one of the common and best sources of protein. Bodybuilders and athletes usually include chicken breast in their diet because it does not have saturated fat. Chicken breast contains 31 grams of protein per 100 grams.

2: Pork Chops 

The pork tenderloin is considered as an extra-lean chop which is rich in proteins and has low-fat levels.

3: Eggs White

It is one of the excellent protein sources for ‘eggetarian’ people who do not eat meat or seafood. Egg contains almost all essential amino acids which are necessary for protein formation. You always think that egg yolk is more nutritious than egg white but that’s not true. Egg white is a pure form of protein than egg yolk with less amount of saturated fat. Four egg whites have almost 16 grams of protein.

4: Seafood 

Seafood is a rich source of proteins with a lot of health benefits. Fish like salmon contain about 22 grams of proteins and usually has low fat.

5: Greek Yogurt 

Greek yogurt is one of the tasty sources of proteins. It provides on average 10 grams of protein. Greek yogurt is more concentrated than regular yogurt hence it contains more proteins.  Also, better to choose a plain Greek yogurt than a flavored one as it may contain more carbohydrates and sugar.

Did You Know?

  • The average protein intake for men in the United States is 98 grams per day. source: CDC
  • The average protein intake for women in the United States is 68 grams per day. source: CDC
  • Protein intake tends to decrease with age, with adults aged 60 and older consuming less protein. source: CDC
  • The main sources of protein in the American diet are meat, poultry, and fish. source: CDC
  • Protein deficiency can lead to muscle wasting, impaired immune function, and delayed wound healing. source: FDA

6:Skimmed Milk

Milk is always considered as a complete food as it is full of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, calcium, minerals, etc. But always choose skimmed milk as it has more proteins and no fats and carbohydrates. It keeps your bone and teeth healthy and prevents osteoporosis. 1 cup of skimmed milk provides 8 grams of protein.

7: Paneer 

Paneer is an alternative for chicken. It is a rich source of casein protein. Paneer has 18 grams of protein per 100 grams.

8: Nuts and Nut Butter 

Nuts such as groundnuts, almonds, and cashew are rich with proteins, unsaturated fats, and satiating fibers. They are slow-burning food which gives you stomachful feeling for a longer time which helps to reduce your cravings.  ¼ cup of nuts provides 7-9-gram proteins.
Nut butter such as peanut butter, almond butter is new healthy products. These are high in proteins, potassium, and fibers.

9: Soy-Based Products

Soybean is also known as ”meat without bones” because of its protein richness. It is available in various forms like the soy yogurt, soya milk, roasted soybeans, etc. It is a great source of protein and vitamin C with very low fats and no cholesterol at all. Soya is an alternative for vegetarians and lactose-intolerant people. It contains 36 grams of protein per 100 grams.

10: Red Lentils 

Lentils are excellent for proteins for vegetarian folks. It contains 27.1 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Also Read: Is Goat Cheese Good for You? Exploring the Health Benefits back by Research

11: Split Chickpeas

Chickpea curry or dal is the commonest dish present in Indian plates. It is one of the easiest protein-rich food available in India. Chickpeas are low in fat and high in proteins. It offers 8.86 grams of protein per 100 grams of serving

12: Seeds 

Are you ever consult a dietician for a diet plan? If yes, then he/she must be told you to add different seeds in your diet like sunflower seeds. Seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds are full of proteins. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your immunity and heart and liver health. On an average  ¼ cup seeds provide around 9 grams of protein.

13: Quinoa 

Quinoa is a gluten-free, plant food that is packed with all essential amino acids. It contains 8 grams of proteins in 1 cup cooked Quinoa.

Also Read: Is Granola Good For You: Unraveling the Truth Based on Nutrition Science

14: Oats 

Oats is the new superfood for health-conscious people. It is an excellent source of protein. They contain 11 grams of protein per 100 grams.

15: Tofu 

Tofu is full of proteins as it is prepared from soy milk. It also contains magnesium, copper, zinc, and vitamin B1. It is gluten-free and low in calories helps to reduce and maintain weight. It contains 8 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Protein is an important nutrient to keep your body healthy and fit. There are various food sources available around us to add to our diets like chicken, egg whites, lentils, nuts, etc. These high protein foods help you to be energetic and strong without adverse effects.

Also Read: Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken? A Guide to Food Storage Practices

16. Granola 

Granola is a healthy cereal that helps you lose weight when you pick a version that’s high in fibre. A bar of granola provides you with about 100 gm of protein. You can either consume a granola bar on its own or have granola like cereal by mixing it with milk or greek yoghurt for a high-powered yet light breakfast, perfect for hot summer months.

17. Edamame Beans 

Edamame beans are high in protein and contain amino acids essential for the human body. About half a cup of cooked edamame beans offers you around 9 grams of protein. A medium-sized bowl of lightly cooked edamame beans pairs well with roti or rice.

Also Read: Savory Oatmeal: Reinventing the Traditional Breakfast Dish

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much protein is in 100 gm paneer?

Paneer, a popular Indian cheese, contains approximately 18 to 20 grams of protein per 100 grams. This makes it a favourable source of protein, especially for vegetarians. Its mild flavour and firm texture make it versatile in various culinary dishes.

How much protein is in 100 gm chicken?

Chicken is a widely consumed source of protein. In a 100-gram serving of cooked, skinless, boneless chicken breast, you can expect to find approximately 31 grams of protein. This makes chicken an excellent choice for those looking to increase their protein intake, whether for muscle growth, maintenance or overall health.

Why is protein important?

Protein is vital for numerous bodily functions, including growth, muscle repair, immune function and the creation of enzymes and hormones. Without enough protein, the body can’t function properly, making it an essential part of a balanced diet.

Can vegetarians and vegans eat enough protein?

Yes, there are plenty of plant-based protein sources. Lentils, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, quinoa and various nuts and seeds are great examples. By eating a varied and balanced diet, vegetarians and vegans can easily meet their protein needs.

How much protein do I need?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein varies by age, gender and activity level. Generally, adults need around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Athletes or those looking to build muscle may need more.

What are some high-protein snacks?

Some healthy and high-protein snacks include Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, edamame, protein bars or shakes made with whole ingredients and mixed nuts.

Are protein supplements necessary?

Most people can get enough protein from whole foods and don’t need supplements. However, athletes, bodybuilders or those with specific dietary restrictions may benefit from protein supplements such as whey or plant-based protein powders.

Can too much protein be harmful?

While protein is essential for the body, excessive protein consumption, particularly from animal sources, may lead to kidney strain and other health problems. Balanced intake in line with individual needs is typically considered best.

What’s the difference between complete and incomplete proteins?

Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids in the right proportions, while incomplete proteins lack one or more of these amino acids. Animal proteins are usually complete, while many plant proteins are incomplete. However, a varied plant-based diet can provide all essential amino acids.

Is protein only important for building muscles?

While protein is indeed vital for muscle growth and repair, its role in the body is multifaceted. It’s also essential for proper immune function, enzyme and hormone production, maintaining healthy skin and hair and much more.

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