High Protein Foods are good for our health as protein makes up the building blocks of organs, muscles, skin, hormones and pretty much everything that matters in your body.
It also improves health in various ways, such as helping you lose weight and belly fat, while increasing your muscle mass and strength.
A diet high in protein also lowers blood pressure, fights diabetes and more while deficiency in protein leads to muscle atrophy and impaired functioning of the human body in general.
Other symptoms of protein deficiency includes:
- wasting and shrinkage of muscle tissue
- oedema (build-up of fluids, particularly in the feet and ankles)
- anaemia (the blood’s inability to deliver sufficient oxygen to the cells, usually caused by dietary deficiencies such as lack of iron)
- slow growth (in children).
Proteins are made up of chains of smaller chemicals called amino acids and since the human body cannot store amino acids, so it must be supplied daily from the foods we eat.
For this reason, it is recommended that you should eat high-quality protein at every meal using the recommended daily intake (RDI) for protein of 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men.
Also very high protein foods or diets intake are dangerous because excess of everything is bad!
And some of the problems with very high-protein foods/diets include:
- They usually promote a very low intake of carbohydrates. Glucose, made when your body breaks down dietary carbohydrate, is your body’s preferred fuel source. If your body does not receive enough dietary carbohydrate, it will break down muscle tissue to make glucose. This causes muscle wastage, reduced metabolism and a build-up of ketones.
- Fibre is largely a carbohydrate. Foods rich in carbohydrates (such as whole-grains and legumes) are also rich in fibre. Avoiding these foods leads to an overall low-fibre intake, which can result in constipation, bowel disorders and increased risk of colon cancer.
- There is evidence to suggest that the heart may not function as well if its main source of fuel is ketones.
- High intake of animal products (which is usually recommended in such diets) can also be high in saturated fats and cholesterol, which is associated with a range of conditions including heart disease.
- The liver and kidneys are put under strain because they have to detoxify and eliminate unusually high quantities of protein byproducts. Kidney problems may be exacerbated in people with diabetes.
- There is an increased risk of developing gout and gall bladder colic.
- Greater losses of body calcium may increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- High-protein diets can cause mild dehydration due to increased water loss through urine. Increased risk of dehydration puts the body under pressure.
- Recent research shows that weight loss over one year is not greater on a high-protein diet when compared to safer, low-fat eating patterns.
Today, we are going to be discussing about the complete list of high protein foods you should know about that will greatly benefit your health but first we need to understand how protein actually works in our body.
How Protein Works in Our Body
Brain cells, muscle, skin, hair and nails are just some of the body parts that are protein-based. Estimates suggest that about half of the human body’s dry weight is made up of protein.
Many of the foods we eat contain protein, particularly flesh foods (chicken, beef, lamb and fish), and legumes like beans and lentils.
These proteins are broken down during digestion to release amino acids, which are the building blocks of all proteins.
Once inside the body, these amino acids are used to make new proteins including enzymes and hormones such as adrenalin. Proteins are sometimes also used as an energy source.
A protein-rich food, such as meat for instance, is broken down into individual proteins by the gastric juices in your stomach.
Then the pancreatic enzymes released into the first portion of your small intestine (duodenum) split the proteins into their separate amino acids. The amino acids are absorbed by the small finger-like projections (villi) lining the intestine walls, and are taken to the liver via the bloodstream.
Then the human body uses those amino acids in these three main ways:
- Protein synthesis – new proteins are created constantly. For example, as old, dead cells are sloughed off the skin surface, new ones are pushed up to replace them.
- Precursors of other compounds – a range of substances are created using amino acids, (for example, the brain chemical (neurotransmitter) serotonin and the ‘fight or flight’ chemical adrenalin).
- Energy – although carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source, about 10 per cent of energy is obtained from protein.
Complete List of High Protein Foods
With all these explained, now let us go back to the list of high protein foods we have which include the following:
Whole eggs are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet.
They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, eye-protecting antioxidants and brain nutrients that most people don’t get enough of.
Whole eggs are high in protein, but egg whites are almost pure protein.
Protein content: 35% of calories in a whole egg. One large egg provides 6 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of carbs with 78 calories.
Almonds are a popular type of tree nut.
They are loaded with important nutrients, including fiber, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium.
Protein content: 13% of calories. 6 grams per ounce (28 g), with 161 calories.
Other High-Protein Nuts
Pistachios (13% of calories) and cashews (11% of calories).
3. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast is one of the most popular protein-rich foods. If you eat it without the skin, the majority of calories in it come from protein.
Chicken breast is also very easy to cook, and tastes delicious if you do it right.
Protein content: 80% of calories. 1 roasted chicken breast without skin contains 53 grams, has less than 4 grams of fat and only 284 calories.
Oats are among the healthiest grains on the planet because they are loaded with healthy fibers, magnesium, manganese, thiamin (vitamin B1) and several other nutrients.
Protein content: 15% of calories. Half a cup of raw oats has 13 grams, with 303 calories.
5. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a type of cheese that is very low in fat and calories which is loaded with calcium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and various other nutrients.
Protein content: 59% of calories. A cup (226 g) of cottage cheese with 2% fat contains 27 grams of protein, with 194 calories.
Other Types of Cheese That Are High in Protein
Parmesan cheese (38% of calories), swiss cheese (30%), mozzarella (29%) and cheddar (26%).
6. Greek Yogurt
Greek Yogurt, also called strained yogurt, is a very thick type of yogurt which tastes delicious, has a creamy texture, and is high in many nutrients.
Compared to regular yogurts, full-fat Greek is way more satisfying since it helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
Just make sure to choose one without added sugar. Full-fat Greek yogurt is also very high in protein, but contains more calories.
Protein content: Non-fat Greek yogurt has protein at 48% of calories. One 6-ounce (170-gram) container has 17 grams of protein, with only 100 calories.
Milk contains a little bit of almost every single nutrient needed by the human body and can provide several impressive health benefits.
It is particularly high in calcium, phosphorus and riboflavin (vitamin B2).
Protein content: 21% of calories. 1 cup of whole milk contains 8.4 grams for an 8-ounce glass., with 149 calories.
Broccoli is an incredibly healthy vegetable, loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber and potassium.
Broccoli is also high in various bio-active nutrients believed to help protect against cancer.
Calorie for calorie, it is very high in protein compared to most vegetables.
Protein content: 20% of calories. 1 cup (96 grams) of chopped broccoli has 3 grams of protein, with only 31 calories.
9. Lean Beef
Lean beef is very high in protein, and also tastes delicious.
It is loaded with iron, vitamin B12 and large amounts of other important nutrients.
Protein content: 53% of calories. One 3-ounce (85 g) serving of cooked beef with 10% fat contains 22 grams of protein, with 184 calories.
Tuna is a very popular type of fish.
It is low in both fat and calories, so what you’re left with is mostly just protein.
Like other fish, tuna is also very high in various nutrients and contains a decent amount of omega-3 fats.
Protein content: 94% of calories, in tuna canned in water. A cup (154 g) contains 39 grams of protein, with only 179 calories.
Quinoa is a popular one on the list of high-protein foods because it’s also gluten-free, vegetarian, and low in fat. It is a seed/grain that is currently among the world’s most popular super-foods.
It is high in many vitamins, minerals and fiber, and is loaded with antioxidants with other numerous health benefits.
Protein content: 15% of calories. One cup (185 g) of cooked quinoa has 8 grams, with 222 calories.
Lentils are a type of legume that are high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, folate, copper, manganese and various other nutrients.
Lentils are among the world’s best sources of plant-based protein and are an excellent food for vegetarians and vegans.
Protein content: 27% of calories. 1 cup (198 g) of boiled lentils contains 18 grams, with 230 calories.
Other High-Protein Legumes
Soybeans (33% of calories), kidney beans (24%) and chickpeas (19%).
13. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkins contain edible seeds popularly known as pumpkin seeds which are said to be incredibly high in many nutrients, including iron, magnesium and zinc.
Protein content: 14% of calories. 1 ounce (28 g) has 5 grams of protein, with 125 calories.
Other High-Protein Seeds
Flax seeds (12% of calories), sunflower seeds (12%) and chia seeds (11%).
14. Turkey Breast
Turkey breast is similar to chicken breast in many ways.
It consists mostly of protein, with very little fat and calories. It also tastes delicious and is high in various vitamins and minerals.
Protein content: 70% of calories. One 3-ounce (85 g) serving contains 24 grams, with 146 calories.
Read Also: Importance of Sleep Hygiene
15. Fish (All Types)
Fish is incredibly healthy because it is loaded with important nutrients, and tends to be very high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Protein content: Highly variable. Salmon is 46% protein, with 19 grams per 3-ounce (85 g) serving and only 175 calories.
Shrimp is a type of seafood which is low in calories, but incredibly high in various nutrients, including selenium and vitamin B12.
Like fish, shrimp also contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.
Protein content: 90% of calories. A 3 ounce (85 g) serving contains 18 grams, with only 84 calories.
17. Brussels Sprouts
The Brussels Sprouts is another high-protein vegetable, related to broccoli.
It is one of the healthiest foods you can eat, and is very high in fiber, vitamin C and other nutrients.
Protein content: 17% of calories. Half a cup (78 g) contains 2 grams of protein, with 28 calories.
Peanuts are incredibly delicious and they are high in protein, fiber, magnesium and many studies show that they can help you lose weight.
Peanut Butter is also high in protein.
Protein content: 16% of calories. One ounce (28 g) has 7 grams, with 159 calories.