Protein—it helps you build and maintain muscle, keeps you full, and makes your whole body strong. What foods can you eat to get the protein you need?
Variety is key, as different kinds of proteins serve different purposes. Some of the best sources include eggs, chicken, cheese, and seafood.
The reason that we need more variety in our protein intake is because there are 20 total amino acids that our bodies need that make up proteins; nine of them are essential, meaning that we have to consume them from food because our bodies cannot produce it (Women’s Health Magazine). Foods that have all nine of these essential amino acids are called complete proteins. Incomplete proteins must be eaten in combination with other foods for the body to be able to absorb what it needs. Each person’s daily protein needs vary depending on many factors, but you can find a starting point from My Fitness Pal. Because the body can only absorb so much protein at once, it is important to spread intake out all day long.
Examples of complete proteins are all animal proteins and soy.
- Eggs are one of the cheapest forms of protein, and they come with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. The whites are basically pure protein. The kind of protein found in eggs is also most easily assimilated by the body.
- Chicken breast without the skin is very low fat and high protein, with the protein making up 80% of its total calories.
- Lean beef can have 22 grams of protein in a 3-ounce serving, and it also has a higher iron content than white meats.
- Shrimp is 90% protein with 18 grams of it and only 84 calories in a 3-ounce serving.
Incomplete proteins are still a good source of the macro-nutrient and are usually the sole source of proteins for those following vegetarian diets. Thoughtfully pairing foods such as these can still help people get the protein they need.
- Beans and grains, such as wild rice, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and chickpeas work in combination in the Protein Bowl at POP Health Food Shop.
- A classic but powerful combo is peanut butter and bread, and this can go for meals and snacks. You could make a sandwich, toast, crackers, waffles or pancakes, or even try a waffle with cream cheese, Brie cheese, and peanuts or walnuts at Wafels & More.
Other great protein options that can be found at the grocery store or eating out include milk, Greek yogurt, tuna, turkey, Parmesan and cottage cheeses. Nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, and tofu are other non-meat options that can help boost protein throughout the day for anyone’s needs.
Knowing all these options for getting the protein you need, you can make a wise choice at your next meal. However, we are not giving any official medical advice, and personal needs should be addressed individually.
Protein rankings by serving size:
- Chicken and turkey breast: 20+ g per 3 oz
- Lean beef: 22g per 3 oz
- Tuna: 20 g in 3 oz
- Shrimp: 18 g per 3 oz
- Lentils: 18 g per 1 cup
- Greek yogurt: 17 grams in a 6-oz container
- Tempeh: 16 g in 3 oz
- Chickpeas: 15 g per cup
- Cottage cheese: 12 g in half cup
- Edamame: 9 g in half cup
- Tofu: 9 g in 3 oz
- Milk: 8 grams per cup
- Pumpkin seeds: 8 g per oz
- Parmesan cheese: 8 g per oz
- Black beans: 7 g in half cup
- Eggs: 6 g per egg
- Almonds: 6 grams per ounce