Most people know that protein is essential when trying to lose or gain weight, but did you know that it is also critical for healthy bodily function?
Protein takes longer to digest than other nutrients, so it helps you feel full for longer. Digesting protein also burns significantly more calories than other nutrients, which is why a high protein diet is highly advantageous when trying to lose weight. On the other hand, when trying to increase strength or gain weight, protein is critical for muscle repair, growth and recovery.
A high protein breakfast can drastically reduce cravings and snacking throughout the day.
One of the lesser known functions of protein is that it transports oxygen throughout the body, facilitating cell production and repair. For this reason, it is known as the building blocks of life.
Whether or not you have a specific fitness goal, or you would just like to improve your general health and wellbeing, a high protein diet is a great place to start.
So what are the best sources of protein?
Poultry: is lower in fat and higher in protein than most red meats, making it one of the most commonly used sources of protein. Sources include chicken and turkey meat (breast for lower fat content), as well as eggs.
Fish: is an excellent source of protein, as the fats contained are also good for heart-health. The most protein-rich fish include pollack, sardines, cod, halibut and salmon.
Seafoods: like prawns, crab and lobster are generally high in protein and low in fat
Red Meats: such as beef and pork are also stacked with proteins. Pork is known to be a leaner meat than beef, but both of these sources of protein should be consumed less regularly than others. Limit the amount of protein you get from processed meats – like mince, sausage or bacon.
Jamón Iberico: is a type of ham that is naturally cured instead of processed. This type of jamón is known as one of the world’s four gastronomic pearls, with rich flavour and a 35% protein content. Jamón Iberico is considered as the world’s finest ham.
Dairy Products: including milk, cheese and yoghurt, contain high amounts of protein – but often high amounts of fat.
The above list contains some of the most protein rich animal products, but you can get all the protein you need from the following plant-based sources.
Tofu: is a soy milk product which is often used in both vegetarian and carnivorous dishes alike. Unlike other plant proteins, tofu contains all nine essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own.
Nuts: such as peanuts, almonds, walnuts and pistachios, are all high in protein and healthy fats.
Broccoli: is not only full of vitamins and minerals, but 33% of it’s total calories are protein.
Greek Yoghurt: and all other low sugar yoghurts are excellent sources of calcium, potassium, protein, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12. What distinguishes Greek yogurt is its thicker, creamier texture because the liquid whey is strained out.
Seeds: including pumpkin, hemp, flax, chia & sunflower, are all excellent sources of protein and known for their extensive health benefits.
Legumes: are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. Rich sources of protein include beans, peas or lentils.
Grains: such as quinoa, rice, corn or oats are packed with nutrients including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). Aim for fresh food products, as opposed to any cereals or other processed grains.
Brussel Sprouts: are a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins.
Protein Powders: are great as both dietary supplements and snack replacements. Whether you are on a mission to slim down, bulk up, or you are just a fussy eater, consider protein powders to help with your fitness goals.
The best diet is well rounded and based around natural food sources, with limited amounts of sugar. For more healthy eating ideas, check out some of the posts below.
The vitamins and minerals you should be consuming daily.Keep reading
About the Author: Harrison has more than a decade of experience on, and off, the rugby field as a player, junior coach and part-time referee. His passion for rugby led him to the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers where he studied the human body, exercise and nutrition, before being registered as a health and fitness professional with Fitness Australia and Fitness First Australia. Although the career path has changed, his passion for health, fitness, and Rugby will always remain.