The importance of foods high in protein in our diets cannot be undermined. Besides its obvious muscle-building properties, protein helps us lose weight fast. That is why most top nutritionist’s first advice to you will be, “If you want to lose weight, make sure you are consuming more protein.”
But more often than not, we are quite unaware of the amount of foods you could stock on, to shed the excess weight and also to lose the extra flab. Having the same food every day isn’t very taste-bud-friendly and you are also depriving yourself of the health-boosting foods filled with protein. Time to look beyond grilled chicken and fried eggs now!
Protein foods are essential nutrient components, which comprise of essential and non-essential amino acids that are great energy sources. High protein foods are responsible for numerous metabolic functions in the body and are considered the building blocks of all living cells.
Proteins are required to keep the body going every day. The fact that proteins are required to ensure development and maintenance of the body make it one of the essential components of the body. Right from our skin and hair to immune system antibodies to digestive enzymes, every single thing is broken down and replaced constantly.
It is only a high protein diet which can do this. If you do not fulfill the protein requirements of the body, you will suffer from the following symptoms,
Our body is capable of making some amino acids of their own, but there are some essential amino acids which we have to obtain from foods. There are about 20 amino acids, and among them some are considered essential and some non-essential. They are considered non-essential because our body can make those amino acids by synthesizing other amino acids.
What is unique about these amino acids is that each one of them has a certain function in the body. So, it is important that you include a variety of different kind of proteins so that you do not lack in some specific kinds of proteins.
Most of us are guilty of eating only certain kinds of proteins, and thus we do not get the full benefits of these proteins. The point is our diets are not as varied as we would like them to be. People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet are sometimes at risk of missing out on important amino acids.
To combat that, they need to combine two kinds of protein sources together to derive the benefits of different kinds of amino acids, an example of such a combination would be rajma and chawal.
Though it is true that protein foods are important, it is important to know how much is required for your body. There are several determining factors which will help you find out exactly how much protein is required for you; they are your weight, your gender, level of activity and age.
But there is a recommended allowance of protein intake for both women and men, who are at an average weight and activity level. It is 46 grams per day for women and 56 grams per day for men. This means you need to consume .36 grams of protein for every pound you weigh.
So your plate should consist of at least 30% of high quality protein. A person with average weight requires 1 gm of protein for every kilo of body weight. So, if you are 70 kilos, you need 70 Gms of protein every day.
Ideally you should never consume protein when you are starving or just too hungry, as the body then converts the protein into carbohydrates, which isn’t too good for your insulin levels or your weight loss plans. The best way to have protein is to have small yet frequent meals throughout the day.
But make sure that you complete your dinner and close the kitchen two to three hours before bed time. Give your body the time to digest the food you have eaten. If you sleep and your body tries hard to absorb your protein, they will be turned to carbohydrates again, defeating the purpose of both weight loss and muscle gain.
We can get the protein our body requires from food sources itself. We do not need artificial supplements unless we are physically training hard for a specific purpose. Protein can be obtained through animal sources like meat, eggs, fish, and milk and so on. This is the kind of protein that contains the maximum number of amino acids. So it is a complete protein source by itself.
There are some plant-based protein sources too, which have a pretty impressive protein profile such as legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. However, they may lack in some kind of amino acids.
You have to say this, Popeye has great choice, since this veggie is not only full of antioxidants; it is also full of protein too. 1 cup of cooked spinach contains a generous 5 grams of protein, the fact that it is so versatile and can blend with your healthy stir-fries and not so healthy dishes too with equal aplomb makes this our favorite too, like Popeye. Steaming this veggie will help retain the all-important calcium content, so it is not that you always have to eat it raw to reap its benefits.
An antioxidant rich veggie, it is the soul of most Indian curries and contains a good 3 grams of proteins per serving. Enriched with a healthy dose of Vitamin K, and nutritious as well as anti-inflammatory in nature, it supports most of our bodily functions. It is super rich in fiber too and hence the best buddy of your digestive system. Cauliflower is an integral part of Indian cuisine and for more reason than just taste.
A cup of peas packs a neat 8-gram protein, that is why it can give stiff competition to the nutrition king, Full of vitamin C too, it can protect your immune system. A lightly cooked peas pulao or a whole-wheat peas paratha, there are numerous ways of adding peas to your protein diet.
A weight-watcher’s favorite, broccoli is one veggie that loves your body right back. It is low in fat, and pretty high in protein, considering the ½ cup of broccoli provides 2 grams of protein. It also contains a host of essential nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, iron and so on. Broccoli can be the chief ingredient of curries or the mainstay of your salad, you can have it any way you want and you should never say no to a recipe which has broccoli in it.
A hunger slayer, it is the most comprehensive form of food ever and also contains a neat 4 grams of protein per 100 grams, so is a must include in the protein foods list. Bananas are full of calcium, magnesium and fiber, so a must for people who are suffering from constipation.
Bananas can never get boring if you add them to milkshakes, ice-creams or just have them frozen with peanut butter. They are a must add to your breakfast routine. You can never go wrong with a combination of oatmeal, nuts and a banana. It’s a protein and fiber rich combination that can keep you full for hours together and with far lesser calories.
Meat is one of the richest sources of protein. White meats should be chosen over red meats because they are healthier as they contain lean proteins. The protein content of four ounces of chicken is 32 grams, and it also contains low cholesterol and fat. It is a perennial favorite with both young kids and adults, and can be had in a number of You can boil, braise, or sauté, it will taste delicious either way.
2. Red meat
Red meat‘s protein content is very high. Red meat though also has a high amount of fats, which aren’t too good for your health as it raises your cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Pork tenderloin contains 13 gram of protein per 3 oz. of serving, turkey breast contains 26 grams per serving, and grass fed beef contains 24 grams per serving.
Preparation of red meat is very important as frying it would mean taking its fat and sodium quotient several notches higher. So, it can mar the very healthy properties it has.
3. Dairy products
Dairy products which include milk, yogurt, cream, and cheese are a great source of protein. And it isn’t only about the protein content; they also provide the body with essential minerals and vitamins. Whole milk and milk from grass-fed cows is really nutritious and said to contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and at least two to five times more CLA, which is known as conjugated linoleic acid than milk obtained from the corn and grain fed counterparts.
CLA are actually a group of chemicals which provide a number of health benefits such as a boost in immunity, improvement in the inflammatory system support, better bone mass and a good insulin response and substantial reduction in fat loss besides keeping you lean and shielding your heart from numerous ailments.
Milk contains 8 grams of protein per 110 calories. A half cup of cottage cheese or paneer contains about 16 grams of protein. Swiss cheese contains 8 grams of proteins; parmesan cheese provides us with 10 grams protein. 7 oz. of yogurt contains 20 gram of protein.
The best part of yogurt is that it also contains probiotics which settle your gut bacteria and aid in digestion. Remember, you need good fats to help in the assimilation of the vitamins and minerals. Without the full fat milk and milk products; you won’t be able to reap the benefits of the milk and milk products.
Eggs are the easiest way of amping your protein requirement. They are full of amino acids, iron and antioxidants. One egg contains a neat 7 gram of protein. So, if you are working out, make sure you add eggs to your diet.
The current nutritional guidelines say that you have to eat the fat to burn fat. So, you cannot skip the yolk, the yolk in fact comprises of choline, which is essentially a waist-trimmer. That’s right, in order to get that lean and mean frame, you need to have the yolk.
Fish is tasty and a very high source of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins and minerals, and what makes it particularly healthy, is that it contains very low amount of saturated fat. Omega 3 fatty acids have several benefits which include blood pressure control, maintaining heart health, preventing arthritis, and the list goes on.
The Indian fish, which you need to consume are Rawas or Indian salmon, which has 26 grams of protein per 100 grams. 100 grams of Indian carp contains 23 grams, 100 grams of Rohu or Carpo fish contains 17 grams, 100 grams of Indian mackerel contains 17 grams. So if you are not much of a meat eater, you can very well gorge on fish to cater to your protein requirements.
Combine black beans with brown rice or white rice to form a complete protein source, good for your soul and good for your tummy as well. 1/2 cup of beans contain 7-10 grams of protein.
Though nuts are rich in vitamins and minerals, they are pretty dense in calories so a handful a day is enough to meet your nutritional requirements.
So, here are the best protein foods that you absolutely must include into your diet to stay fit and healthy. Make sure you have a balanced diet where you have balanced proportions of carbs, protein and fats and not ignore one for the other, that is the mantra for a healthy and long life.