If you’ve heard any kind of nutrition advice espoused over the last 10 years, you’ve undoubtedly heard that adequate protein is essential.
Protein helps you build muscle mass, and is important for keeping you full when you are trying to lose fat. But does it matter where you get your protein from?
Your “best bets” for increasing your protein intake are foods that are predominantly composed of protein. This allows you obtain the benefits of protein, without having the negative side effects of eating too many calories.
For example, a burger might have a lot of protein in it, but it also has lots of fat! The protein in your quarter-pounder will help you get stronger, but the fat content will expand your waist-line!
Below is a list of food sources that should make up the dominant providers of your daily protein intake.
- Skinless chicken
- 90% or leaner beef
- Fish, oysters, and other seafood
- Ham or lean pork
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy
- Eggs, egg whites, and egg beaters
- Soy beans and protein powder
- Whey protein powder
- Protein bars
It’s important to distinguish these foods from other meat sources like: burgers, sausage, meatballs, hot dogs, chicken wings, fried chicken, bacon, pepperoni, salami, bologna – just to name a few. Those animals sources often have more fat than protein per serving.
If you’re craving these foods, look for leaner versions like turkey bacon, turkey pepperoni, and 90% or leaner burgers or hot dogs. Look for the protein content to be about double (or more) of the fat content.
Even protein bars can be deceiving – many of them are glorified candy bars. If a protein bar doesn’t have around 10% of its calories in grams of protein, then it’s not a real protein bar. That means if it has 200 calories, it should have about 20g of protein.
There are also many healthy food choices that are incorrectly categorized as high-protein sources. Some examples are:
- Nut butters like peanut butter, almond butter
- Regular yogurt
- Whole Milk
These foods are not very high in protein. They are fine food sources and can be part of a healthy and balanced diet. They provide some protein and give you good protein in addition to the sources mentioned before, but they aren’t high protein sources for your meals. Unless you are a vegetarian or vegan, do not rely on them to be your main protein source for the day.
P.S. Curious to know how much protein you should eat every day? Learn more here.