Good Protein Sources To Try
Ultimately, the best protein sources provide high amounts of protein and beneficial nutrients per calorie.
This includes the following:
These options are your best bet to hit your daily protein macro goals and achieve higher protein intake regularly.
However, there are still some serious benefits to other proteins that provide a mixed macro ratio. While they may not be the most protein dense overall, they can still contribute nutrition and health benefits.
Not to mention, your overall diet is not designed to be pure protein, and finding macro balanced foods and meals that match your nutrition needs is an efficient way to get better balance overall.
This is especially true for vegans and plant based eaters who rely on plant based proteins that tend to also be a source of fat or carbohydrates.
It is a balancing act, figuring out what macro ratios work best for you.
Here are 30 additional good protein sources to consider:
Here Are 21 Easy Alternative Ways To Add Protein To Your Diet:
- 1 cup peanuts: 41 grams of protein.
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds:39 grams.
- 1 cup cheese :36 grams
- 1 cup tempeh:34 grams
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese:28 grams
- 1 cup oats:26 grams
- ½ cup tofu:22 grams
- 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt:22 grams
- 1 cup kidney beans:21 grams
- 1 cup white beans:19 grams
- 1 cup pinto beans:19 grams
- 1 cup lentils:18 grams
- 1 cup edamame:17 grams
- 1 cup lima beans:15 grams
- 1 veggie burger:11 grams
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter:9 grams
- 1 cup tofu yogurt: 9 grams
- 1 cup cooked quinoa: 8 grams
- 1 cup skim milk:8 grams
- 1 cup soymilk:7 grams
- 1 tablespoon miso:2 grams
Optimal Daily Protein Intake For Vegetarians And Vegans
The protein requirements discussed so far were based on studies that used animal-based protein supplements, such as whey or egg protein supplements, or were conducted mostly in omnivores. There is no reason to believe that people who get their protein mostly or entirely from plants have inherently different protein requirements, but since plant-based proteins tend to be lower in quality than animal-based proteins, if you obtain most of your protein from plants you will need to pay attention not just to the amount of protein you eat but also to the quality of that protein.
A proteins quality is determined by its digestibility and amino acid profile.
Digestibility matters because if you dont digest and absorb some of the protein you eat, then it may as well not have been eaten. Animal-based proteins consistently demonstrate a digestibility rate higher than 90%, whereas proteins from the best plant-based sources show a digestibility rate of 6080%.
Read Also: Keto How Much Protein Is Too Much
Increase Protein Portions At Meals
A simple way to get more protein is to increase the portion size of the protein food that you put on your plate.
Remember, if youre an average-sized woman eating three meals a day, youll want to include 30 to 40 grams of protein in each meal. If youre an average-sized man, youll want to have 35 to 50 grams per meal.
We frequently hear that our readers struggle to eat 30 or 35 grams of protein at breakfast. Thats OK! Do your best to get 25 or 30 grams and you can make up for it in your other meals or snacks.
What does it take to get that much protein? It depends upon what youre eating.
Protein serving size per meal
|2.0 to 2.7 cups||2.3 to 3.3 cups|
If you dont have a scale to weigh your protein, you can estimate how much youre eating by comparing your portion to the size of a deck of cards, which is roughly 3.5 ounces. For many protein sources, youll need a portion size closer to two decks of cards to get to your target.
Likewise, if you dont want to measure tofu or beans, remember a cup is about the size of an average fist.
Make room on your plate for this extra protein food by reducing calorie-dense sides, especially starchy ones like rice, bread, or potatoes. You can switch to non-starchy vegetables that help to fill you up but come with fewer calories.
If you already eat low-carb, cut back on the amount of added fats like butter or oil.
For even more ideas about high-protein food, check out our guide, The best high-protein food for weight loss.
Use A Pesto With Pine Nuts And Tree Nuts
Pine nuts, traditionally used in pestos, have about 9 grams of protein per half a cup, which is a great option for spreads on sandwiches and for quinoa pastas. But if you add a handful of tree nuts such as almonds or walnuts to your pine nut pesto, you can almost double the amount of protein you’re getting!
Read Also: Can You Have Too Much Protein On Keto
How To Get 200 Grams Or More Of Protein In Your Diet Effectively
Under normal circumstances, its going to be a challenge to reach that 200 grams of protein per day on a normal diet. In fact, many bodybuilders use amino acid-rich supplements to get to that lofty 200 gram per day goal. This is all well and good in theory, and there is certainly nothing inherently wrong with it, but what if you dont want to use supplements? How to get 200 grams of protein a day through a regular diet?
How Much Protein After Exercise
After exercising, when your muscles are more sensitive to the anabolic effect of protein, take a dose in the range of your desirable minimal protein intake per meal. If youve been exercising on an empty stomach, youll be in negative protein balance, so take this dose as soon as possible. Otherwise, try to take it within a couple of hours the exact size of your window of opportunity depends on how much protein youre still digesting.
Digging Deeper: After better than before?
Is it better to eat before or after exercising?
In a 2020 crossover trial we first summarized for Examine Members, 8 healthy young men were divided into three groups.
All three groups performed a full-body strength workout in the morning. One group ate a meal 1.5 hours before, another just after, and the last waited for lunchtime.
This happened three times, with three days in between. Each time, the men switched to a different group. Thus, at the end of the trial, they had all tried all three meal times.
Blood insulin and certain modified amino acids were measured as indicators of muscle breakdown. The results? Eating a mixed-nutrient meal immediately after resistance training, rather than 1.5 hours before or not until lunchtime, resulted in the greatest suppression of muscle protein breakdown.
Whether or not this correlates with improvements in muscle growth and recovery, however, is unclear.
Add Tofu As A Smoothie And Shake Thickener
Tofu doesn’t have to just be scrambled into a stir fryyou can use it as a thickener in shakes and smoothies, as well as a base for dips and soups. A half a cup of the stuff will give you 10 grams of excellent, flavorless protein, but make sure to choose a tofu that doesn’t use the coagulating agent magnesium sulfate, which has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals. Tofus that use nigari salts, lushui, or clean sea water as a coagulating agent are safer choices. Once you found that better-for-you product, find your new favorite shake recipe with this list of 23 Best Protein Shake Recipes!
You Don’t Start The Day With Protein
“Many Americans think breakfast is only full of carbohydrate-rich foods and therefore tend to skip the meal,”Tawnie Graham, RDN, tells LIVESTRONG.com, adding that many people aren’t sure how to include protein in their morning meal.
There are many benefits to including protein at breakfast, one of which is weight control. “A high-protein breakfast can help promote weight loss and/or prevent weight gain or regain,” says Su-Nui Escobar, RDN. “One key factor is the improvement in appetite control and satiety.”
A study compared a 350-calorie cereal-based breakfast with a 350-calorie high-protein breakfast and found that the higher-protein meal was associated with reduced hunger and feeling more full, per the April 2013 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.“The high-protein breakfast led to daily reductions in the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin, increases in the satiety hormone PYY and reductions in evening snacking particularly of high-fat foods compared with skipping breakfast,” Escober explains.
Add eggs into your breakfast routine! An egg scramble with beans and cheese is a great way to boost protein intake at breakfast, says Graham. She also recommends oatmeal with egg whites or adding a poached egg, kale and sautéed onions to your oats for a savory option. Need another choice besides eggs? Graham suggests pairing cottage cheese and fruit.
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Animal Proteins Are Most Bioavailable
This means that the proteins you get from animal products are the most easily absorbed and used by your body. For instance, 20 grams of protein from eggs deliver more of a protein punch than the same quantity of protein from plant sources. This doesnt mean you cant get the protein you need from non-animal sources. It just means that if you eat protein from animal sources, your body can more easily harness it.
Spring Vegetable Chicken Pot Pie
Promote proper nutrition for yourself and your loved ones with these amazing chicken and spring vegetable pot pies. The markets are brimming with fresh shell peas, potatoes, and pearl onions but frozen options are available as well.
Peas are often overlooked as a healthy option, but they are a complex starch full of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Marrying them in a rich sauce, along with potatoes, pearl onions, carrots, chicken, and tarragon, while finishing with a topping of either store-purchased biscuits or homemade dough makes for a tasty lunch or dinner option.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
2 small red skin new potatoes
¼ tsp dried tarragon
½ tsp black pepper
2 tsp tapioca flour
1 cup chicken bone broth or chicken stock
1 cup leftover diced or shredded chicken
4 pre-made biscuit rounds or this recipe
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Add Spirulina To Your Smoothies
One simple way for how to get more protein is to make it a topping. Nutritionist Ashvini Mashru, RD, recommends spirulina, the superfood youve never heard of. This natural algae is one of the most potent protein sources available, with nearly 16 grams per ounce. Not to mention its a great source of antioxidants, B vitamins, iron, calcium, and other nutrients. Add it to your fruit smoothies or protein shakes! Dont miss the other ways spirulina benefits your health.
Try One Of Those New Meat Snacks
Yes, meat snacks are a thingand we’re not just talking about those rubbery beef jerky sticks from the gas station. Tons of new options are popping up and many of them are seriously impressive, thanks to their omega-3, vitamin B12, and iron levels that all come in a portable package. These are the 14 Best Protein-Packed Meat Snacks that we approve ofbecause, no, Slim Jims definitely don’t count.
How To Increase Your Protein Doing Keto
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Traditional low-carb diets are a little different from ketogenic diets in that they promote high protein through meat, cheese, and other sources, while keto looks for moderate protein. This is not a diet where you have as much protein as you possibly can. However, you may still be struggling to get enough protein, especially if you are on a vegetarian diet as well as keto. Take a look at these ways you can increase your protein.
Keep Your Protein Moderate
It is important that you first keep in mind your protein needs to be at a moderate level. When you calculate your macros, try not to go over 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. There are a lot of helpful calculators online that will give you all your macros, so that you know exactly how much protein o aim for each day, but also to keep it from getting too high for the ketogenic diet.
Go for Animal Protein First
Dont Forget About Nuts
Add in Some Eggs and Cheese
You can also have some dairy products, including most cheeses and eggs to increase your protein. You just want to be careful about milk because it contains sugars that will be higher in carbs. For non-dairy milk options, use coconut milk or almond milk.
Why Does The Body Need Protein
Protein is a macro nutrient and is essential for the human body. In fact, protein is everywhere in our bodies from our cells to our hair and nails. We need protein to build new tissues and new muscle fibres. The problem is that our bodies dont store extra proteins, unlike fats. We need it when we need it but there is no extra storage of it that the body can draw upon.
The problem for people engaged in intense weight training or sport, is that the recommend 46 or 56 grams of protein per day is most likely not quite enough for the body to recover and repair muscle. As I already mentioned, there are a number of variables that determine how much protein per day is optimal, including sex, physical activity, age, muscles mass, and overall health. There is no such thing as one size fits all.
If you want to learn more about how to workout how much protein you need personally, then you can read my article called Is 150g of Protein Enough to Build Muscle?. The article opens in a new window on this website.
Smaller amounts of protein are just fine for average people with pretty sedentary lifestyles, but what if youre an athlete? What if you exercise every day? What if youre a committed bodybuilder? In all of these cases, the body is going to need a lot more protein than average. In fact, 200 grams of protein is going to be the normal daily intake for a bodybuilder or dedicated athlete.
What is to follow may help you a lot
Proteins High In Healthy Fats
Even though they aren’t as protein dense, or often as low in calories, nutritionally speaking, higher-fat proteins can be just as good for you as low-fat protein options. It all depends on your personal nutrition needs and dietary goals.
Because fat is more calorically dense – providing twice as many calories per gram as other macronutrients – you can get more calories in a smaller portion size. Which is why a little healthy fat, like plant based fat from nuts and seeds, can be a great addition to help add calories when trying to gain muscle.
But this also doesn’t mean eating high fat foods will make you fat! Some fatty foods can be satiating – keeping your appetite in check when trying to cut calories. Fat can also slow the absorption of protein and carbs. This may be beneficial if you are looking for long-lasting energy.
Additionally, fatty proteins from fish and plant based sources are associated with heart health benefits and support good nutrition overall .
Quality proteins that are higher in fat and lower in carbs include nuts, seeds, nut butters, fatty fish, full fat dairy, and some meat alternatives.
High fat proteins work especially great for keto dieters or those looking to gain muscle.
Here are eight options to try:
While many nuts and seeds may seem like they have a higher carbohydrate content at first glance, their net carbs are actually low when consider their high fiber content.
How To Find The Best Quality Proteins For You
Protein is essential for our bodies. Being thoughtful about which proteins you choose to include in your diet can help you optimize your health and fitness goals.
With an endless array of food companies advertising the impressive protein content and health benefits of their products to appeal to consumers, learning who can be trusted and which products are actually worth your dollars can feel like a challenge.
Just because something contains protein does not mean it’s good for you. And just because a food label is advertising a good source of protein doesnt necessarily mean it is.
Legally, any food that contains at least 10 grams of protein per serving can be labeled as an excellent source . And a good source would contain 5 grams or more.
But this advertising law does not consider the other nutrients or total calories of the food, which give you a much more well rounded picture of whether or not this item is worth its salt.
So when it comes to finding the best proteins on the market youll want to consider the following:
Heres your go-to guide for finding the most balanced options.