One of the silent killers of the Covid-19 pandemic is the increase in sedentary behavior among Canadians. However, it seems that's starting to change. To get back into our healthy lifestyles, we need to focus on proper diet and exercise routines.
Well, a large part of a healthy diet plan is getting enough protein. Luckily, that's easier than you think! Let's talk about high protein foods and what they can do for your body.
What is Protein?
Protein is a chain of amino acids that is essential for making repairs throughout your body. Amino acids act as building blocks for many important functions within your cells, and there are nine that your body cannot produce on its own, making them essential to get through your food.
These are known as essential amino acids. Some proteins come with all nine, which are known as complete proteins, while some come with fewer, which are incomplete proteins.
If you eat a variety of incomplete proteins, then you don't have to worry about eating complete proteins. For example, if you eat rice and beans or bread and peanuts within 24 hours of each other, your body will still receive all of the essential amino acids.
What Does Protein Do for Your Body?
Like the other macronutrients (carbs and fats), proteins play essential roles in your body that make them a necessary part of your diet. Here are a few examples.
If you are training for a physical event, you probably know how important protein is for your body. However, one thing you should know is that your body will use protein for energy if it runs out of fats and carbohydrates, which are its primary energy sources.
If you are looking to build muscle, protein (as well as the other macronutrients) is essential. When you put significant strain on your body and it uses protein to repair and grow your muscles, this process is known as protein synthesis.
However, if you aren't consuming enough carbohydrates and fats, your body won't go into protein synthesis and instead will convert protein into energy. Keep your carbs high, as they are "protein sparing."
Proteins help make the framework for your cells and act as important building blocks for your immune health. Eating a variety of proteins and micronutrients is an excellent way to boost your immune health!
Boosts Heart Health
Your body can't do much without a healthy heart. Replacing foods with high fat and cholesterol with heart-healthy proteins is known to reduce the rate of heart disease dramatically.
Helps to Keep You Feeling Full
Proteins take longer to digest within your body, which helps you feel full. Eating more protein and fiber throughout the day will play an important role in losing weight or burning fat without feeling hungry all the time.
How Much Protein Per Day Do You Need?
This depends on a number of factors. If you are a tall, male bodybuilder looking to put on 5 kilograms of muscle in 12 months, you are likely going to need as much as 175 to even 225 grams of protein.
However, if you are an average female looking for a healthy, well-rounded diet, you may only need as little as 50 to 60 grams of protein per day. It totally depends on your own goals and body type, but there are protein calculators to help you determine your needs.
13 Tasty High Protein Foods
There are plenty of high protein foods that you can add to your diet, and the more, the merrier. If you're unsure about any food on this list, or if you've never tried them, always look for tasty recipes online if you want to incorporate these ingredients!
Eggs are commonly listed as a "superfood" for good reason. They have complete proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of important micronutrients for your body. Also, eggs are one of the least expensive protein sources available, as you can get 72 grams of protein in a dozen eggs for anywhere between $3.00 and $8.00 if you are purchasing free range, organic eggs.
2. Chicken Breast
The bodybuilding classic has remained a protein staple for centuries. Chicken breasts are very high in protein and extremely low in fat, yielding 31 grams of protein for a small 3.5 oz serving. For a normal 8 oz serving, you will receive as much as 70 grams of protein.
Almonds are an excellent source of healthy fats and vitamins, and they make a delicious and easy-to-carry snack that can help you boost your protein intake. One small serving of almonds or almond butter should yield around 6 to 7 grams of protein. Not bad for a fat source!
4. Greek Yogurt
Full of probiotics and complete proteins from milk, Greek yogurt is another superfood on this list, and you can even make it at home! Always opt for low-sugar or low-fat options if you are trying to get lean protein. Alternatively, cottage cheese and ricotta cheese offer similar benefits and protein content.
While oats serve primarily as a carb source, they do come with some quality plant protein and micronutrients. A bowl of oatmeal in the morning with some fruit and milk is a well-rounded, high-protein meal on its own.
Milk works out to be the least expensive protein source when you break it down by grams of protein per dollar. There is one gram of protein per ounce of milk, so one gallon will give you 128 grams of protein for as little as $2.50 at many stores.
7. Lean Beef
Beef shouldn't be your primary source of protein, as there are health risks associated with eating too much of it. However, lean beef is a high source of protein and vitamin B12.
Another superfood on the list, quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse that is tough to match. In fact, you could live off of quinoa and spinach for a long time, as the two complement each other's nutritional portfolios so well.
Quinoa has all of the essential amino acids that make up a complete protein, which is rare for plant foods. Subbing rice or other grains for quinoa is a great way to boost your protein intake throughout the day, as well as your manganese and other micronutrients.
Similar to beans, lentils are essentially little balls of fiber and protein.
If you're a vegetarian, vegan, you follow the Mediterranean diet, or you just want to eat more plants, lentils are an excellent option to boost your protein intake. Even if you're a meat-eating bodybuilder, adding lentils into your meals is a great way to increase your fiber and protein intake.
Use these in soups, tacos, stews, burrito bowls, or just about any other dish you can think of for an extra protein kick!
10. Whey Protein Supplements
After milk and eggs, whey protein powder tends to be the cheapest form of complete protein per gram. Each scoop works out to be around $0.63 for 24 grams when purchased in bulk, and it's an excellent way to boost your protein intake throughout the day.
However, it's important to remember that these are dietary supplements and should never be used to replace your meals. Whole foods should always take priority as they offer the enzymes that your body needs to properly digest the proteins.
11. Turkey Breast
Turkey breast is very similar to chicken breast in protein content, and it's often even cheaper! This is a great option to add to your diet for a change if you're used to eating chicken.
12. Ezekiel Bread
Another easy way to replace your grains and make some gains, Ezekiel bread is a fantastic source of protein. However, it does spoil quickly, so keep it in the freezer and toast it when you're ready to eat it.
Whitefish like cod and haddock are some of the leanest sources of protein you can find. Fatty fish like salmon, trout, and tuna are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein powerhouses.
Risks of Eating Too Much Protein
While some bodybuilders and weightlifters consume more protein than you think is possible, this is not recommended for the average user. There are certain risks of consuming too much protein, including weight gain, digestive issues, and more.
Talk to your doctor before making major changes to your diet, and try to start out slow to give your body time to adjust if you intend to increase your protein intake.
Make a Healthy Diet Plan
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dieting. We can't guarantee the success of a diet plan, so please read our disclaimer. However, eating a well-rounded diet with a variety of whole foods is almost always the best approach.
If you are on the path to a healthier you, then you are most likely considering your health insurance. While Canada's Provincial Health Care plans are robust, they simply don't cover some of the alternative therapies and treatments you may require. That's where Insurdinary comes in. Our team of professionals will shop the entire Canadian market for you, to ensure that you and your family have the coverage you need. Contact us today! We are looking forward to working with you.