Need A Little Extra Protein In Your Diet These High Protein Foods Pack In Essential Nutrients But Aren’t Meat
Meat is high in protein, but there are actually so many more ways to get protein into your diet. These protein-rich alternatives can be cooked and consumed in a multitude of ways and are perfect whether you eat only vegan recipes are just looking to be more aware of what nutrients youre eating!
Not vegetarian, but still want to eat healthy? Try these protein-packed salads.
Top 20 Alternative Sources Of Protein Other Than Meat
Protein is an important part of everyones diet. It is responsible for repairing and building your muscle tissue, it helps to keep your weight within a healthy range, and it can keep your appetite under control. Most people count on meat, chicken, and seafood as their main sources of protein. But people who have adopted a vegetarian lifestyle need other sources of protein to choose from.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein each day per the USDA is 10 to 35 percent of your total calories. To be more specific, you need 0.8 grams of protein for every 2.2 pounds that you weigh. The average comes out to 56 grams each day for an inactive man and 46 grams for a sedentary woman. Here are top selections to try if you are a vegan or if you just want to start with a meatless Monday.
The 18 Best Protein Sources For Vegans And Vegetarians
A common concern about vegetarian and vegan diets is that they may lack sufficient protein.
However, many experts agree that a well-planned meatless diet can provide all the nutrients you need, including protein .
That said, certain plant foods contain significantly more protein than others, and new and older studies alike suggest that higher protein diets can promote muscle strength, feelings of fullness, and weight loss (
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Healthy Protein Choices When Cutting Back On Red Meat
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Red meat hasnt been getting very good press lately. Meat-heavy diets have been linked to increased risks of developing heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. New findings from two long-term studies now indicate that eating lots of meat, especially processed meat, may also shorten your life.
Turning vegetarian, or even vegan, isnt necessary. But as we write in the June issue of the Harvard Mens Health Watch, it does make sense to cut back on red meat and add in healthier sources of protein.
Eggs: 1 Egg = 6 Grams Of Protein
- Color eggs all year, not just at easter time. Its more fun for children to eat a pink or purple egg, than a plain white one.
- We like one eyed monsters for a healthy breakfast tip . We cut a circle out of the middle of bread, spray both sides of the bread with butter-flavored cooking spray, lay the bread on a hot griddle, and crack the egg in the middle of the bread. Cook thorougly on both sides. Also grill slightly the cut out circle of bread and serve both the face with the one eye egg and the extra bread.
- Stuff a pita pocket with scrambled eggs. A pita can be easier to handle and hold. Pita pockets are also high in fiber.
- Some kids dont like the taste of eggs, but they love french toast. Mix two to three eggs in a shallow dish. Add a touch of cinnamon, some vanilla extract, and some low-fat milk. Dip the slices of whole-wheat bread into the egg mixture. Make sure to get a healthy coating of the egg mixture to ensure maximum egg benefits.
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What Are Some High Protein Foods
Protein is a major building block of the human body. Hair, skin, muscle, connective tissue, metabolism, and many chemical processes in the body are affected by or made up of protein. Protein itself is made up of amino acids. There are 20 necessary amino acids for protein, and the body produces only eleven. This means that we need to get the remaining nine from high protein foods. We need to consume them daily because the body doesn’t store them for later use.
Eating foods that are high in protein is the best way to get all of the protein, and by default amino acids, that you need. The United States Recommended Daily Allowances recommends eating 0.37 grams of protein for every pound, or .8 grams for every kilogram, of body weight. A 150-pound person , for example, would theoretically need to eat about 55 grams of protein per day.
An easier way to remember this rule is that between ten and 15 percent of the Calories you consume should come from protein, assuming you have a healthy diet for your body size and type. People who have kidney or liver disease should consult their health care professional to determine how much protein they should consume daily.
Proteins Are Made Of Amino Acids
Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids that link together in different combinations. Your body uses them to make new proteins, such as muscle and bone, and other compounds such as enzymes and hormones. It can also use them as an energy source.
Some amino acids can be made by your body there are 11 of these and theyre known as non-essential amino acids. There are nine amino acids that your body cannot make, and they are known as essential amino acids. You need to include enough of these in your diet so that your body can function.
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I Pair Lower Protein Sources With Higher Protein Sources Because It Really Does Add Up
Something I had to come to terms with when I started increasing my protein was that not every food out there is high in protein. Obvious, I know, but in the beginning I only ate foods that had the most grams per bite: protein powder, eggs, lentils, yogurt, anything that had 10 to 20 grams. As you can imagine, that strategy lost its sparkle fast, and I was eating large quantities of the same foods .
So instead, I began adding smaller sources of protein like chia seeds , hemp hearts , almond butter , and pumpkin seeds to my meals. Of course, I thought that 4 grams wouldn’t make much of a difference, but if I add some chia seeds to my smoothie, a tablespoon of hemp hearts to a salad, and snack on some pumpkin seeds, I’ve now consumed 17 grams of plant-based protein without tryingand that definitely makes a difference.
What Foods Are In The Protein Foods Group
All foods made from seafood meat, poultry, and eggs beans, peas, and lentils and nuts, seeds, and soy products are part of the Protein Foods Group. Beans, peas, and lentils are also part of the Vegetable Group. For more information on beans, peas, and lentils see Beans, Peas, and Lentils are Unique Foods.
Select a wide variety of protein foods to get more of the nutrients your body needs and for health benefits. Meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat, like 93% lean ground beef, pork loin, and skinless chicken breasts. Choose seafood options that are higher in beneficial fatty acids and lower in methylmercury, such as salmon, anchovies, and trout. The advice to consume lean or low-fat meat and poultry and a variety of seafood does not apply to vegetarians. Vegetarian options in the Protein Foods Group include beans, peas, and lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy products.
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Health Benefits Of Vegetarian Protein
A proper vegetarian diet offers numerous health benefits. Diets with animal protein tend to contain higher levels of fat, calories, and sodium. Following a vegetarian diet lowers your risk of health problems such as obesity, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
But vegetarianism doesnt mean healthy unless you take the right steps. A diet full of soda and candy is vegetarian but not healthy. A healthy vegetarian diet requires thoughtful planning and a well-rounded intake of nutrients.
If youre wondering how to add more protein to your vegetarian diet, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist.
Some Exotic Meat Options That Are High In Protein
Depending on where you live in the world,the following three high-protein meats may be a normal part of your diet.However, if you live in the US or Europe, they will be exotic high-proteinfoods.
Eating exotic foods every now and again isa good way to add a little variety to your diet. It keeps mealtimes interestingand adds a little variety to your life.
Many peoplewould frown at the idea of eating horse meat but its high in protein andincredibly lean. The same people would probably chow-down on a beefsteak orsome pork fillet without giving it a second thought. Its just a case of socialconditioning.
The best cuts of horse meat contain around 50% less fat than youd get from a similar cut of beef. Horse meat also contains double the amount of iron and Vitamin B12, along with a generous amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.
You can usehorse meat to replace beef, lamb, pork, or any other meat in most recipes. Insome countries, you can even buy slices of smoked horse meat to use insandwiches or salads.
Again, youvegot to be able to get past the taboo and try not to think you may be eatingpieces of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. If you can do that, youre all set and cantake advantage of this unusual high-protein food.
Kangaroo is ared meat. Its tasty and highly nutritious. With less than 2% fat, its alsoone of the most healthy meat choices you could make. Better still, the fat inkangaroo meat is mostly the unsaturated kind.
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Chickpeas: 1 Cup = 12 Grams
If your kids havent tried Roasted chickpeas yet,we have 4 flavors they wont be able to resist! Another easy way to eat chickpeas is blending it up to make hummus. You can dip hummus with breads, pretzels, vegetables, or even use it as a sandwich spread. Really get the kids excited by making this special CHOCOLATE hummus!
Complete Vs Incomplete Proteins
Every single food is made up of different combinations of amino acids and is characterized according to how much of each EAA they provide.
Foods that contain adequate amounts of all of nine EAAs are called complete proteins. Meat and other animal foods are considered complete sources because they have complete EAA profiles.
Foods that are missing one or more of the EAAs are called incomplete proteins. Most plant foods have incomplete protein profiles, which means that you must combine them with other plant foods that have different EAAs to make a complete protein meal. To complicate matters, the body isnt always able to absorb all the protein we eat. The bioavailability of plant EAAs is lower than that of animal sources. If the label says there are 13 grams of protein in a veggie burger, it doesnt mean that your body will actually be able to absorb and use all 13 grams.
Here is where strategic planning is involved. To meet your protein needs, you need to know which plant foods provide which EAAs and which can be combined to balance out the missing amino acids.
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Best Plant Protein Sources
If youre a vegetarian but not a vegan, you might incorporate these other protein sources into your diet:
- Eggs or egg whites: Eggs are a low-cost and nutritious source of protein. Each egg provides 6 to 8 grams. If you use egg whites, youll get fewer calories, but youll miss out on vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins housed in the yolk.
- Dairy products: Milk, cheese and yogurt are excellent sources of protein and calcium. To get the most protein bang for your buck, choose cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt. Both pack 13 grams of protein or more per serving, and you can dress them up with fruit, nuts or granola for a filling breakfast or snack.
The Basics: Protein 101
Protein is a vital macronutrient. It is responsible for the repair and building of tissues such as muscle, ligaments, organs, skin, hair, and nails. It is also required for many cellular processes, building hormones, and neurotransmitters. Proteins are actually large molecules composed of smaller parts called amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks of muscles and serve as catalysts for almost every chemical process in the body. In total there are 20 amino acids. Nine of these are considered essential amino acids . In contrast to the other types of amino acids, EAAs are essential because the body cant produce them on its own and can only get them from the diet. Most healthy humans can make the other amino acids they need.
When referring to getting enough protein, one must consider two things: the amount of protein and the right amount of all of the EAAs.
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Daily Protein Foods Table
*These are general recommendations by age. Find the right amount for you by getting your MyPlate Plan.
|Daily Recommendation* in Ounce-Equivalents|
3 to 5½ oz-equiv
5 to 6½ oz-equiv
5 to 6½ oz-equiv
5½ to 7 oz-equiv
5 to 6½ oz-equiv
5 to 6 oz-equiv
6½ to 7 oz-equiv
6 to 7 oz-equiv
5½ to 6½ oz-equiv
Why Is It Important To Choose A Variety Of Choices From The Protein Foods Group
Foods in the Protein Foods Group including meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts, seeds, and soy products provide nutrients that are vital for the health and maintenance of your body. Many Americans meet the protein recommendations for meat, poultry, and eggs, but do not meet the recommendations for seafood or nuts, seeds, and soy products. Meeting the recommendations for these Protein Foods subgroups can help increase intake of important nutrients, including unsaturated fats, dietary fiber, and vitamin D and help to limit intake of sodium and saturated fats coming from processed meat and poultry.
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Fish And Seafood Proteins
Like meat, fish is a complete protein.Apart from being one of the best high-protein foods, fish is packed full ofother important nutrients as well. In fact, fish is one of the healthiest foodschoices you can make and its an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish is sometimes known as brain food and the association between fish and mental health is not without founding. Further research is needed but a number of studies suggest people who have a lot of fish in their diets may have slower rates of age-related mental decline.
Fish is also good for providing Vitamin D. Many people are deficient in this important vitamin and statistics show 41.6% of the US population does not get enough Vitamin D.Vitamin D can also help you lose weight
There are lots of reasons to eat more fish.Its nutritional value should never be judged on its protein content alone.
Why Do You Need More Protein
Many women suffer from muscle loss or sarcopenia as they get older. Adding protein to your diet helps to offset this, although adding resistance training to accompany the extra protein is a good idea.
Protein helps to maintain bone density. Low bone density and osteoporosis are common in women after menopause. This is another case for also adding resistance training, or weight bearing exercise.
If you are trying to lose weight, then diets that are higher in protein may be beneficial.
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Hemp Seeds Are Incredibly Nutritious
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts.
Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat. They are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid .
They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has been linked to several health benefits .
Hemp seeds are a great protein source, as more than 25% of their total calories are from high-quality protein.
Hemp seeds are also a great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc .
Hemp seeds can be consumed raw, cooked or roasted. Hemp seed oil is also very healthy and has been used as a food and medicine in China for at least 3,000 years .
Summary Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are also a great protein source and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
Whats The Scoop On Protein Quality
Not all protein is created equally. Protein consists of one or more amino acids. The amino acids that are required by humans are called essential amino acids. The protein found in different foods contains different amounts of these amino acids. Protein from animal products usually has a more balanced amino acid profile. There are different measures to determine the protein quality of various foods, but if you get a variety of sources you will likely have the amino acids covered.
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