Healthy protein is an essential part of a balanced diet, but protein deficiency can lead to numerous health issues. Protein aids in muscle strength and development, tissue growth and repair, bone strength, cell regulation, and the maintenance of a healthy immune system.
Since your body doesn’t store protein like it does other nutrients, you need to include protein-rich foods in your diet daily. Many common sources of protein, are not considered healthy because they contain high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol. Fortunately, there are some healthy sources of protein that you may encounter every day without even realizing it. Here is an overview of 8 different sources of healthy proteins that you can add to your diet today:
The most common source of dietary cholesterol-free protein is eggs. One large egg contains 6 grams of complete animal protein that delivers all the necessary amino acids your muscles need for repair, growth, and rejuvenation. Egg whites are considered healthier than whole eggs due to their low calories, carbohydrate count and 0% saturated fat concentrations. The yolk of an egg contains much of the nutrients, so if you do choose to eat whole eggs, try eating only the egg whites. If at all possible, try to find an organic egg supplier and include free-range eggs in your daily diet. This healthy source of protein can be used to add a boost to a variety of dishes including salads and omelets.
White meat from chicken and turkey is considered one of the healthiest sources of protein on the planet due to its low-calorie content. One white meat serving from either poultry typically contains around 35 grams of high-quality protein with very little carbohydrate count and 0% saturated fat concentration making it ideal for pros and cons sportsmen alike. Besides being low in calories, white meat is a great source of selenium, potassium, vitamin B6, and niacin. Numerous studies have been made linking high chicken consumption with high cholesterol levels. If possible, try to avoid eating the skin on your poultry because it contains more fat than the rest of the meat itself. You can help your body metabolize the protein by adding vegetables such as broccoli and spinach to a marinated chicken dish or turkey salad.
Lean Red Meat
Although red meats are not as healthy as lean white meats due to their higher saturated fat content, they still contain beneficial nutrients that our bodies need. One serving size of 95% lean ground beef typically has around 23 grams of complete animal protein with a lower carbohydrate count and 0% saturated fat. Like other protein-rich foods, lean red meat also contains essential amino acids that are needed by the body for muscle growth and development. The key to eating red meat in moderation, try not to exceed more than two servings of lean red meats per week. If possible, try adding mushrooms and vegetables such as lettuce and tomatoes to a burger or steak sandwich instead of unhealthy toppings like processed cheese and mayonnaise.
For most individuals, fish is a healthy source of protein due to its low saturated fat content and high Omega-3 fatty acid count. Unlike other meats, fish contains a majority of healthy unsaturated fats rather than unhealthy saturated fats which lead to cardiovascular disease. If possible, opt for wild-caught varieties such as salmon, tuna, trout, and halibut because they contain higher concentrations of omega-3 oils that are great for brain health. One serving size from the average whitefish has around 23 grams of complete protein with less than 1 gram of carbohydrate per serving. Many people find it hard to sustain a proper daily intake of protein because the body needs this important nutrient on an ongoing basis. Fish can also help you stay full longer, therefore, stabilizing your blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Greek yogurt, like regular yogurt, is a great source of complete animal protein and probiotics that give your digestive system the healthy boost it needs. One serving size has around 18 grams of protein with an average carbohydrate count. Like other dairy products, Greek yogurt is high in calcium which gives your body the necessary components for strong bones and teeth. The best type of Greek yogurt to eat is organic because it contains less sugar than traditional yogurts which makes you hungrier throughout the day. Besides being packed with muscle-building amino acids, Greek yogurt also contains active cultures that help break down food particles during digestion thus promoting better health overall.
Although whey protein does contain a small concentration of carbohydrates and fats, it is the best type of protein to take before bed due to its highly bioavailable properties. One serving size has around 20 grams of complete animal protein with only 2 grams fat and 1 gram carbohydrate. Whey protein contains all 9 essential amino acids that build muscle tissue in your body which means that you can essentially hold off on eating any other sources of animal proteins until the next morning. Whey protein won’t make you gain unnecessary weight like many other supplements because it’s digested much faster than beef or eggs.
Although cheese is high in fat and contains a small percentage of carbohydrates, it still provides your body with necessary nutrients such as calcium and protein. One serving of cheddar cheese has around 11 grams of complete animal protein with 0 grams carbohydrate and 7 grams fat per serving. Cheese is a great source of casein protein which makes up 80% of cheese’s amino acid profile. Casein is a slow-digesting type of protein that stays in your system for a longer duration compared to whey or soy proteins. The best time to eat cheese is before you go to sleep because casein is slower digesting than any other type of protein therefore helping you stay full throughout the night until breakfast.
Spirulina is a blue-green alga grown in Mexico and Africa that has been consumed for decades as a highly nutritious food source. Although spirulina tastes as good as it sounds, many people have difficulty eating this type of protein due to its taste. In addition to being an excellent source of complete animal protein with no fat or carbohydrates, spirulina is packed with B vitamins and essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Spirulina helps regulate your blood sugar levels throughout the day which means fewer cravings for junk food and more energy overall. One tablespoon of spirulina contains 4 grams of complete animal protein with 0 carbohydrates and 0 fat per serving size.
These are some of the best food sources to help boost your daily intake of protein. If you’re looking for a safe and effective way to build muscle and lose weight, then adding these amazing foods into your diet will help you achieve both goals within the next few weeks.