What Are The Protein Foods


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Protein is a macronutrient that forms the building blocks of the human body. It is necessary for the growth and repair of all tissues, along with many other functions including forming hormones and enzymes. A deficiency in protein leads to muscle atrophy and impaired functioning of the body in general.

Why You Need Protein

Protein is vital for three major functions. It helps you grow and repair muscles and other soft tissues. It is also a building block of enzymes and hormones, which help regulate processes in your body. Thirdly, protein is a fuel that your body burns for energy.

Your bodyâs protein requirement depends on your weight. The average adult needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day . So, a 140-pound person needs around 50 grams of protein every day. The National Academy of Medicine recommends that protein make up between 10% to 35% of your daily calories.

Protein is the building block of numerous body parts, including:

How To Get Your Protein Needs

Your daily protein needs can easily be met by following the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The Guidelines group foods into 5 different food groups, each of which provide key nutrients.

The 2 main food groups that contribute to protein are the:

  • lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans group
  • milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives group.

As part of a healthy diet, the Guidelines recommend particular serves per day from each of the 5 food groups.

The human body cant store protein and will excrete any excess, so the most effective way of meeting your daily protein requirement is to eat small amounts at every meal.

Daily recommended serves of lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans and milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives for adults

Person Recommended average daily number of serves of lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans Recommended average daily number of serves of milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives
Men aged 1950 years 3

So, what is a serve? A standard serving size of lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans is one of:

A serve of milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives could include:

  • 250 ml fresh, UHT long life, reconstituted powdered milk or buttermilk
  • 120 ml evaporated milk
  • 40 g hard cheese such as cheddar
  • 120 g ricotta cheese.

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High Protein Foods: In Summary

Protein is one of key macronutrients that our bodies need in order to function normally. By adding some additional protein to your diet, you can increase your muscle mass, improve your appetite levels, and support general muscle strength and health. By simply adding a few more high protein foods, such as chicken, salmon, or almonds, to your diet, you will probably begin to notice the benefits.

However, too much protein can also lead to some negative side effects. Try to always eat a balanced diet that includes all of the essential food groups. If you’re worried you’re not getting enough protein, or that you’re getting too much, we always recommend speaking to your doctor or nutritionist, so that you can create the perfect diet plan for your specific needs and goals.

Why Eat More Protein

Assortment of healthy protein source and body building food  Stock ...

Protein has many benefits, and not eating enough of it could harm your health. Known as the “building blocks” of the body, proteins play an important role in tissue development, appetite regulation and maintaining and improving muscle mass.

For these reasons , it’s also touted as one of the most important nutrients for healthy aging. According to Piedmont Healthcare, eating enough protein will also help you:

  • Recover after exercise and/or injury
  • Experience less age-related muscle loss
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Now that you know the why, let’s dive into how to eat more protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner from nutrition experts themselves.

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Protein And Food Allergies

According to Food Allergy Research and Education, food allergies happen when the bodys immune system attacks certain food proteins. Your body will fight back by making its own proteins, called IgE antibodies, or immunoglobulin E. If you have an allergy to a certain protein, the next time you eat or drink something containing that protein, youll experience an allergic reaction, such as itchiness or trouble breathing.

Many of the most common food allergies are associated with foods that are high in protein, such as eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and fish.

Have A Protein Shake For Breakfast

Many smoothies contain a lot of fruit, vegetables, or juice, but very little protein.

However, a shake or smoothie can be a great breakfast option, especially if you choose nutritious ingredients.

Protein powders make it easy to create a healthy, high protein shake. There are several types on the market, including whey, soy, egg, and pea protein.

Whey protein powder has been studied the most and seems to have an edge over the others when it comes to helping you feel full (

Heres a basic whey shake recipe:

Whey Protein Shake

  • 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop of whey powder
  • 1 cup of fresh berries
  • stevia or another healthy sweetener, if desired
  • 1/2 cup of crushed ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

To boost the protein content even further, use extra protein powder or add peanut butter, almond butter, flaxseeds, or chia seeds.


Having a protein shake for breakfast helps you start the day off right. Whey may be the best type to use.

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Top Your Food With Chopped Almonds

Almonds are incredibly healthy.

Theyre high in magnesium, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, yet low in digestible carbs.

Almonds also contain 6 grams of protein in a 1-ounce serving, which makes them a better source of protein than most nuts .

And although a serving of almonds contains around 170 calories, studies have shown that your body absorbs only about 133 of those calories because some of the fat isnt digested .

So sprinkle a few tablespoons of chopped almonds over yogurt, cottage cheese, salads, or oatmeal to increase your protein intake and add a bit of flavor and crunch.


Almonds are high in several nutrients and can boost the protein content of a meal or snack.

What Are The Benefits Of Protein


In addition to the important roles played by protein, ensuring you consume adequate amounts may help:

  • Support recovery after exercise or injury
  • Reduce muscle loss
  • Regulate hormones, including during transformative stages, like puberty
  • Support additional growth and development needs, especially during pregnancy

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May Have Beneficial Effects On Metabolic Health

Some studies suggest that eating quinoa could benefit certain aspects of health.

A 2020 study in 40 older adults had participants eat 0.5 ounces of quinoa flour biscuits daily for 28 days.

  • triglyceride levels

A 2017 study that included 50 people with excess weight or obesity had participants consume 1.8 ounces of quinoa daily for 12 weeks.

Those who ate the quinoa had significant reductions in triglyceride levels compared with the control group and a group that consumed 0.88 ounces of quinoa per day .

Even though these results suggest that quinoa has a positive effect on metabolic health, its your diet and lifestyle as a whole that matter most when it comes to decreasing your risk of disease.

Following a dietary pattern rich in nutritious foods like quinoa, vegetables, fruits, fish, and beans is a smart way to protect your health and reduce disease risk factors, like high blood lipid levels and high blood sugar levels.


When you enjoy it as part of a well-rounded diet, quinoa can help support overall health and may improve certain disease risk factors, like high blood lipid levels.

While its not directly a health benefit, the fact that quinoa is very easy to incorporate into your diet is still important.

Quinoa is also tasty and goes well with many foods.

Depending on the type of quinoa, it can be important to rinse it with water before you cook it to get rid of saponins. These are found naturally on the outer layer and can have a bitter flavor.

What Are Strictly Protein Foods

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Your body depends on protein for growth, development and proper functioning. Most men and women need between 46 and 56 grams of protein daily, depending on body type and activity level. Virtually all foods contain protein, however there are some foods that are almost 100 percent protein, with very little carbohydrate or fat. Incorporating these strictly protein foods within a balanced diet will help provide you with the nutrients your body needs to be healthy.

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How To Include High Protein Foods In Your Diet

When it comes to weight loss, high-protein foods are your best friend. They help to keep you feeling full and satisfied, so youre less likely to overeat or snack between meals. Including some high-protein foods in your diet is a great way to help you reach your weight loss goals.

Here are some of the best high-protein foods for weight loss:

  • Eggs: Eggs are a great source of protein and contain all the essential amino acids your body needs. Theyre also low in calories and fat, making them ideal for weight loss.
  • Fish: Fish is another excellent source of protein and is packed with healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Its a great option for those who are trying to lose weight and improve their heart health.
  • Chicken: Chicken is a lean protein source thats low in calories and fat. Its also easy to cook and can be incorporated into a variety of recipes, making it a versatile option for weight loss.
  • Beans: Beans are a nutrient-rich food that contains both protein and fiber. Theyre filling and can help to regulate blood sugar levels, making them ideal for those on a weight loss journey.
  • Nuts: Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. They make a perfect snack or addition to any meal, and they can help you stay on track with your weight loss goals.

Choose Leaner Slightly Larger Cuts Of Meat

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Selecting leaner cuts of meat and increasing portion sizes slightly can significantly boost the protein content of your meal.

Whats more, your meal may even end up being lower in calories.

For example, compare the nutritional value of a 3-ounce serving of these two steaks (

34 ).

Peanut butter can also boost the flavor and nutritional value of firm fruits like apples and pears, which are rich in fiber and antioxidants yet low in protein.

In fact, spreading 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on sliced fruit can boost the total protein content by 7 grams .

Peanut butter also works well with a wide range of other ingredients, including oatmeal, celery, whole wheat toast, or yogurt.


Adding peanut butter to your diet can boost your protein intake. It may also help decrease appetite, improve heart health, and lower blood sugar.

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Research On Protein And Health

Available evidence indicates that its the source of protein , rather than the amount of protein, that likely makes a difference for our health. You can explore the research related to each disease in the tabs below, but heres the evidence-based takeaway: eating healthy protein sources like beans, nuts, fish, or poultry in place of red meat and processed meat can lower the risk of several diseases and premature death.

Research conducted at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health has found that eating even small amounts of red meatespecially processed red meaton a regular basis is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or any other cause. Conversely, replacing red and processed red meat with healthy protein sources such as beans, soy foods, nuts, fish, or poultry seems to reduce these risks. One of the reasons why plant sources of protein are related to lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to protein from red meat and dairy is because of the different types of fat in these protein packages. Plant-based protein sources are more unsaturated, which lowers LDL cholesterolan established risk factor for heart disease. Also, plant sources contain no cholesterol. Other factors are likely to contribute to the lower risk, but this is a key factor.

When it comes to cancer, once again, the seems to matter more than quantity.

What Factors Influence How Much Protein I Need

Our protein needs depend on our own unique characteristics, like age, weight, gender, general health and physical activity levels. As does life stage during pregnancy for example, the body needs more protein to satisfy the demands of additional tissue development and growth. Guidelines suggest an additional 6 grams of protein per day during pregnancy, increasing to 11 grams during the first six months of breast feeding.

Those who are physically active have increased protein needs, too. How much will depend on the type and intensity of their chosen exercise. That said, even those who have no or only low activity levels need to consume adequate protein to help counter the loss of muscle mass.

As we get older, changes to how our body works, such as impaired digestion, insulin resistance and inflammation, alter how we access and make use of protein. This means we need to include more protein in our diet not eating enough from high-quality sources may lead to an increased loss of muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, which leads to frailty and increases the chance of a fall.

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The Best Protein Sources

Choose protein sources that are nutrient-rich and lower in saturated fat and calories, such as:

It’s a good idea to change up your protein foods. For instance, you could have salmon or other fish that’s rich in omega-3s, beans or lentils that give you fiber as well as protein, walnuts on your salad, or almonds on your oatmeal.

How much protein are you getting? Here’s how many grams of protein are in these foods:

1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese: 12.4g

3 ounces tofu, firm: 9g

1/2 cup cooked lentils: 9g

2 tablespoons natural-style peanut butter or almond butter

3 oz skinless chicken breast: 26g

3 oz fish fillet : 17-20g

1 ounce provolone cheese: 7g

1/2 cup cooked kidney beans: 7.7g

1 ounce almonds: 6g

4 ounces low-fat plain yogurt: 6g

4 ounces soy milk: 3.5g

4 ounces low-fat milk: 4g

How Much Protein Should I Eat

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For most people, a daily dose of around 0.8-1g of protein per 1kg of body weight is recommended. For weightlifters and strength athletes, 1.4 2g of protein per kg of body weight is recommended per day, with a recommendation of 1.2-1.6g of protein per kg of body weight per day for endurance athletes. After exercise, protein is particularly important since muscles need it to recover and grow. A portion of protein is recommended within 30 minutes of exercise, when your muscles are particularly receptive to protein synthesis.

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How Much Food From The Protein Foods Group Should I Eat Daily

The amount of protein foods you need depends on your age, sex, height, weight, and activity. The amount can also depend on whether or not you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Most Americans eat enough from the Protein Foods Group but need to select leaner varieties of meat and poultry. They may also need to increase the variety of protein foods selected and choose meats less often.

Find the right amount for you by getting your MyPlate Plan. For general guidance by age, see the table below.

How To Calculate Your Recommended Protein Intake

The recommended dietary allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. To maintain nutritional balance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidelines recommends protein make up about one-quarter of your plate.

To calculate the target number of grams of protein you should eat each day, Harvard Health Publishing says take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 0.36. The result should get you within the recommendation to source 10 to 35 percent of your daily total calories from protein, according to MedlinePlus. Usually that means having some kind of dairy at each meal plus a piece of meat the size of a deck of cards thats 3 ounces or the equivalent amount of plant-based protein at lunch and dinner, according to Mayo Clinic.

Keep in mind that these recommendations may change depending on age and health. The recommendation changes for athletes, too. People who exercise frequently or are training for a race need to increase their protein intake to between 1.1 and 1.7 g per kg of body weight daily. Anything over 2 g per kg of weight is considered excessive.

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Buy A Rotisserie Chicken

Grocery stores and supermarkets often sell rotisserie chickens that are already cooked and ready to add to your meals. Rotisserie chicken is easily repurposed into chicken salads, soups and stir-fries, and they seriously cut down on meal prep time.

“Having a rotisserie chicken on hand is the easiest way to get protein in at breakfast, lunch and dinner,” says Kelsey Sackmann, RD. “Toss shredded chicken into a veggie omelet for a filling breakfast, or use leg quarters for a quick sheet-pan dinner or add chicken to salads, soups, and pasta recipes for added protein.”

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