Protein is an important nutrient. Aside from its many benefits, it can also help you shed that stubborn weight you have been trying to lose for months, and make you feel full for longer hours. However, it is essential to control the intake of protein as too much of it can cause more harm than good. There are many sumptuous dishes that can supply you with proteins, regardless of the diet you need. Contrary to people’s opinions, healthy protein sources are not that expensive, there are lots of budget alternatives.
Why do we need protein?
There are plenty of benefits to including foods rich in protein to our diet because protein is essential for many bodily functions such as building muscles, tissues, and cells as well as helping produce anti-bodies and hormones. We all need proteins, but if you lift weights or are in strenuous sports, you may benefit from the additional intake of protein to help with the muscle building as well as healing and recovering.
A recent study also shows that older people can also benefit more from increasing protein intake because it reduces muscle loss linked with aging.
How much should we consume?
While different experts will give you a different answer, there are some golden rules to help you determine how much protein you should eat in a day. According to scientists, the minimum amount of protein required for the body to ultimately perform is 0.36 grams per day for each pound you weigh. This translates to about 46 grams of protein every day or more for an average woman, and about 56 grams for an average man.
Generally, the more you move around the more your body protein requirement, since the less wear and tear to subject your body to, the less repair and healing work there is to do. Your age will also come into consideration, as we have mentioned above, your body functions better with protein as you age.
There are numerous sources of protein, including plants and animals. Some of the good protein sources include the following foods.
Eggs are among the most versatile foods on earth. They are readily available, they are cheap, they are one of the healthiest and the most nutritious foods, and can be prepared in hundreds of ways.
Eggs are packed to the brims with healthy fats, vitamins, essential brain nutrients, as well as antioxidants.
Whole eggs are loaded with high protein, but the egg whites are nearly pure protein.
A whole egg contains 6 grams of protein and 78 calories.
Milk is also one of the most readily and affordable sources of proteins. It is highly nutritious, but sadly, a huge chunk of the world population is intolerant to it.
But if you are one of the lucky people who tolerate milk, it is one of the best sources of good proteins.
Generally, milk contains almost all types of nutrients needed by the body to function properly. One of these nutrients is the highly required calcium, while others such as riboflavin (vitamin B2) and phosphorus are also present.
Milk contains 21% of calories; a cup of milk contains 8 grams of proteins and 149 calories.
This is also sometimes called strained yogurt and is known for being so thick and highly nutritious. It tastes delicious, with a creamy texture, but packed with many nutrients.
Non-fat Greek yogurt contains proteins at 48% of calories. 170 grams container of Greek Yogurt contains 17 grams of proteins with just 100 proteins.
When buying this yogurt, be sure to select the one without added sugar. While full-fat Greek yogurt is also protein-rich, it also contains more calories.
Lean beef is also high in protein and loved by many people. It is full of highly bioavailable iron, as well as vitamin B12 and high amounts of other nutrients.
It has protein at 53% of calories. 85 grams of cooked beef contains 22 grams of protein and 10% fat, and 184 calories.
If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, consider eating fatty cuts of beef rather than lean beef.
You can either go for a turkey breast of chicken breast. It contains large protein with a very little amount of fat and calories. Turkey breast also tastes delicious and is packed with various vitamins and other minerals.
Turkey breast has protein at 70% of calories, meaning one 3-ounce or 85 grams contains 24 grams of proteins with 146 calories.
Chicken breast is among the most popular protein-rich foods. You can eat the chicken without the skin as the majority of its calories will actually come from protein.
One of the reasons why many people love chicken breast is that is insanely easy to cook and tastes very delightful if you do it correctly.
Chicken breast contains proteins in 80% of calories. A roasted chicken breast with skin removed contains 54 grams of proteins and 284 calories.
Tuna is a very popular fish loved by many people due to its low in fat and calories. If you find tuna to be a bit out of your budget, canned tuna is a perfect option and it can help you enhance the protein levels in your body.
Sources of Proteins for Vegans
One of the most common misconceptions is that vegans luck enough options when it comes to protein sources. However, a painstakingly vegan diet can provide all the protein-rich nutrients you need. But some plant foods may contain more proteins than others. The protein you receive from these plant-based foods is just the same and has similar benefits to the ones from animals.
That said, here are sources of proteins for vegans.
Seitan is a common protein food for many vegans and vegetarians. This food is made from gluten, which is the chief protein in wheat. When cooked, seitan resembles meat, including the texture. Sometimes, it is also called wheat gluten or wheat meat and has 25 grams of protein per 100 grams, thus making it one of the richest plant protein sources for vegans.
You will also benefit from selenium as well as small bits of calcium, iron, and phosphorus.
There are several ways to prepare seitan, such as grilling, sautéing, or pan-frying. This means you can easily add it in different recipes.
Seitan is, however, should be avoided by individuals suffering from celiac disease or are gluten sensitivity.
Seiten is the best option for those vegans and vegetarians that yearn for meat since it is mock meat made of wheat gluten.
Tempeh, Tofu, and Edamame
The above three foodstuffs are derived from soybeans.
Soybeans are known for being a whole source of protein, which means they supply the body with all the required nutrients including the essential amino acids.
Edamame is derived from immature soybeans, something that gives it that sweet and grassy taste. They should be boiled or steamed before eating and can be served alone or added to salads and soups.
On the other hand, tofu is made by pressing beans curds together like cheese making; and tempeh is made by cooking and fermenting slightly mature soybeans before crushing them into a patty.
Of all the three, tofu doesn’t taste delicious, however, it can easily absorb the zest of the other ingredients prepared together. Tempeh, on the other hand, has a nutty flavor taste.
Both tempeh and tofu can be included in other recipes such as chili, burgers, and soups.
But the three of them have calcium, iron, and up to 19 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Another option for vegan protein is lentils. They provide up to 19 grams of protein in every 240 ml, or a cup. The best thing about them is that they can be used in a range of dishes including fresh salads, hearty soups or even spice-infused dahls.
A cup of lentils can supply your body with the required daily supply of fiber intake, alongside decent amounts of easily digested carbs.
The fiber that is found in lentils also helps with feeding the good bacteria in the colon, thus boosting the health of your gut. Studies have also shown that lentils are capable of reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and certain types of cancer.
Moreover, lentils are also rich in manganese, iron, and folate, in addition, plenty of antioxidants as well as other beneficial plant compounds.
Chicken peas and other varieties of beans
Chicken peas and other types of beans such as black, pinto, kidney, and others, are loaded with high amounts of proteins. Garbanzo beans or chicken peas are known for containing the highest amount of proteins of the rest of the other legumes.
Both chicken peas and beans have about 15 grams of protein per cup when cooked. Additionally, they also provide the body with fiber, complex carbs, folate, iron, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, as well as other health-essential plant compounds.
Also, some studies have also found that a diet comprising of legumes and beans can significantly reduce cholesterol, assist control blood sugar levels, combat blood pressure, and even decrease that stubborn belly fat.
Spelt and Teff
These two belong to the group of ancient grains, alongside barley, einkorn, farro, and sorghum. Spelt is wheat with gluten, while teff is also mean gluten-free.
Both spelt and teff supply the body with up to 11 grams of protein per 200 ml, thus making them the highest protein than any other ancient grain.
Spelt and teff also provide other nutrients such as fiber, complex carbs, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, and manganese. You will also benefit from a good amount of zinc, B vitamins, and selenium.
You can use spelt and teff in place of other common grains including rice and wheat, and can also be sued in a wide range of recipes; from polenta and risotto to baked goods.
Nutritional yeast is normally sold in stores as flakes or yellow powder. It is essentially a neutralize strain of saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast.
It is known for having a cheesy flavor, thus making it a common ingredient in dishes such as scrambled tofu and mashed potatoes.
You can also sprinkle nutritional yeasts on top of pasta or as a flavorful icing on popcorn.
Nutritional yeast supplies the body with 14 grams of proteins as well as 7 grams of fiber for every 28 grams of servings.
Fortified nutritional yeast also provides the body with magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper, as well as all the B vitamins including the much-needed vitamin B12.
Green peas are usually consumed as a side dish, but it is loaded with 9 grams of proteins per cup, which is comparatively higher protein content than a cup of milk. Moreover, a single serving of green peas is enough to provide your body with more than 25% of the daily required fiber, thiamine, vitamin A, C, K, folate, as well as manganese.
You will also get iron, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, as well as other B vitamins.
Green peas can be used in recipes like basil stuffed ravioli and peas, Thai pea soup or even avocado guacamole and pea.
Hempseed is derived from the hemp plant but contains extremely lower amounts of THC compound, which is usually responsible for the ‘high’ effect in marijuana, and also illegal.
While it is technically not a seed, hempseed is packed with up to 10 grams of complete protein per 28 grams. Its protein is also easily digestible. Hempseed contains a high amount of proteins than flaxseeds and chia seeds.
Aside from the protein, hempseed also supplies the body with iron, magnesium, iron, calcium, selenium, and zinc.
Several studies also show that the fats found in hempseed can also help relieve inflammation and also reduce PMS symptoms, certain urinary diseases, and even menopause. Seeing that CBD oil is also derived from the same plant, and has been found to treat the above ailments and many others, these studies may be true.
A nutritional powerhouse, spirulina is known to contain up to 8 grams of complete protein per two tablespoons, as well as supplying 25% of the body’s daily requirements of thiamin and iron and over 42% of daily copper needs.
Spirulina also provides certain amounts of riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, manganese, as well as a small supply of other essential nutrients such as fatty acids.
Adding protein-rich dishes to our daily diet is very important. Some of the protein sources in this article are not expensive, meaning this shouldn’t break your bank to sustain. As we have covered, there are many protein-rich foods for both vegans and non-vegans, and most are suitable for just about any diet as well as preference and budget range.