Proteins are biomolecules that your body uses to build and renew cells.
Proteins make up tissues such as muscles and skin while also acting as an energy source. The daily intake of protein ranges from a recommended minimum of .3 grams per pound of body weight, to as high as .8 grams per pound of body weight for people engaged in intense exercise, especially resistance exercise.
An excess of protein is generally not related to health issues, although recent studies have indicated that excess protein in older individuals (greater than 50 years of age) can cause kidney stress.
There are many common foods that are rich sources of protein. Eating the proper foods in proper amounts can help you achieve your fitness goals.
The most obvious and well known source of protein is meat.
One roasted chicken breast contains approximately 53 grams of protein with only 284 calories.Turkey breast is very similar to chicken breast and also has very little fat. An 85-gram serving of turkey breast contains 24 grams of protein and 146 calories.
Pork is also a good choice. One-hundred grams of grilled or broiled pork loin contain27 grams of protein.
Low-fat high-protein sources include fish and seafood. Fish has the added benefit of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as reduce inflammation. Salmon contains roughly 46% protein, which yields an approximate 19 grams of protein per 85-gram serving at 175 calories. Tuna is also a very popular fish that is low in both fat and calories but high in omega-3 fatty acids, with shrimp sharing the same low-fat, high omega-3 qualities. A 100 gram serving of shrimp contains 24 grams of protein with only 99 calories. Shrimp contains nutrients such as selenium and vitamin B12.
Animal-derived foods besides meat are also typically high in protein. A glass of milk or 8 ounces of yogurt can be easily be added to supplement protein levels in your diet. Whole cow’s milk is also a great source of calcium/ An standard serving contains 8 grams of protein and 103 calories.
Cheese is another animal-derived dairy food, especially cottage cheese, which contains calcium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12 and B2. A 100 gram serving of cottage cheese contains 11 grams of protein and 98 calories. Other cheese types include: Parmesan cheese (38 grams of protein per 100g serving), Swiss cheese (27 grams per 100g serving), mozzarella (28 grams per 100g serving) and cheddar (25 grams per 100g serving).
Eggs are another nutritious food high in protein. Egg whites are almost pure protein. One standard-sized egg contains 7 grams of protein with 78 calories.
Protein-Rich Foods for Vegans
For those who prefer a diet free of animal products there are alternatives. Vegetables, grains and seeds contain more than enough protein and can easily be substituted for animal-derived food.
First on the list are beans which contain and average 21 grams of protein per 100 grams. Soybeans are even higher on the protein scale with 38 grams per 100 gram serving with 446 calories.
Oats and chia seeds have approximately 17 grams of protein per 100 gram serving. Lentils, which are rich in iron, fiber, magnesium and antioxidants, have 9 grams of protein in that same amount.
Vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts contain from 3 to 3.5 grams of protein per 100 grams, considerably less than beans and seeds, but make up for it with high vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber and potassium content and low calories (100 grams of broccoli contains roughly 30 calories). They are both classified as super-foods, which means they supply you with many essential vitamins and nutrients.
Another popular super-food with a considerable protein content is quinoa, a grain harvested for its edible seeds which are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein per 185 gram serving and roughly 220 calories. This grain is also very easy to incorporate into your diet as it is easy to mix with other vegetables.
Pumpkin seeds are known for their high magnesium, iron and zinc content along with 19 grams of protein per 100 gram serving.
Nuts as a Source of Protein
Most nuts are a rich source of protein as well.
Almonds contain 21 grams of protein per 100 grams and are rich in fiber, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium.Cashews come in at 18 grams per 100 gram serving but at a cost; with their high fat content 100 grams of cashews contains 553 calories!
Pistachios are a great option with 20 grams of protein per 100 grams.
All these nuts can be mixed and combined into a healthy, tasty, and practical snack choice that can give you protein and other nutrients. This food group is ideal for those who live busy schedules and find themselves with not enough time for a slow-cooked meal.
Protein is an essential macro nutrient. How much you need can be highly variable depending on how active you are and the type of activities you do. While animal products are the best source of protein, vegetables and nuts and seeds can also help you meet your protein goals.