High protein foods

Updated: December 27, 2012

High protein foods are the best way to a lean and maintaining a healthy weight.

There are many kinds of high protein foods so knowing which ones are ideal is important to your health.

This article on high protein foods will shed the light on the facts the best protein to consume.

High protein foods are thought to be the best allies when it comes to staying lean and maintaining a healthy weight as these nutrients sustain muscle growth and strengthening, high protein food ideaensure a feeling of fullness for a longer time, keeping cravings and hunger pangs away and take longer to digest, burning more calories when broken down.

A healthy adult looking to maintain weight and practicing a moderate level of physical activity daily needs around 0.8 grams of proteins per kilogram of bodyweight in order for his body to function normally. This means an average individual weighing 70 kilograms (154 pounds) needs 56 grams of proteins per day.

But how are these amounts calculated and how can one know how many grams of proteins each food delivers? And what happens when not enough proteins are consumed or when the recommended daily intake is exceeded?

 Protein content of various foods

To make it easier for you to approximate the amount of proteins incorporated in your daily diet, we’ll take a look at the most common protein sources and the level of nutrients they provide.

Lean meat is probably the most popular source of protein as it is low in calories and keeps hunger pangs away for longer.

  • A medium sized chicken breast weighing 100 grams (3.5 oz) provides around 30 grams of proteins
  • Average sized chicken thighs deliver around 10 grams of proteins per piece
  • Wings contain around 6 grams of proteins per piece
  • A regular can of tuna (170-180 grams, 6 oz) provides 40 grams of proteins
  • Tuna fillets contain around 22 grams of proteins per 100 grams
  • Steak contains around 42 grams of these nutrients per 170-180 grams (6 oz)
  • Beef – an average of 7 grams of proteins per 30 grams
  • Ham, around 19 grams of these nutrients per 80-90 grams
  • 1 slice of bacon has 3 grams of proteins
  • Ground sirloin, extra lean, contains around 13 grams of proteins per 50 grams

Now let’s move on to eggs and dairy products, as these contain amino acids and proteins too. 50 grams of raw eggs provide around 6 grams of proteins, 1 serving of cottage cheese (1/2 cup) has around 15 grams of these nutrients and 1 cup of milk, 8 grams. Then, 1 cup of plain yogurt delivers around 10 grams of proteins, Mozzarella cheese around 6 grams per 30 grams and Parmesan or other hard cheeses, around 10 grams of proteins per 30 grams.

As for the vegetable sources of proteins, here are the most important ones:

  • Soybeans – 16-20 grams per cup
  • Soy milk – 10 grams per cup
  • Tofu – 20 grams per ½ cup
  • Peas – 8 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Black beans and lentils – around 7-10 grams of proteins per ½ cup
  • Tofu – 44 grams of proteins per 200 grams
  • Broccoli – 10 grams per cup

Nuts and seeds are healthy vegetal sources of proteins too, and they deliver around 8-10 grams of proteins per 50 grams (almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and cashews), except for sunflower seeds which provide 6 grams per 50 grams and pecans, containing only 2.5 grams of proteins per ¼ cup.

While it’s quite absurd to believe one will write down all the eaten proteins and calculate the daily intake rigorously to make sure the recommended daily dose was not exceeded, it’s still good to keep an eye on the eaten foods just to make sure your diet is well balanced and follows the general rules of nutrition.

 Health effects of too little or too much protein in diet

Not eating enough proteins can lead to muscle loss and weakness, fatigue, irritability and a weakened immune system. Also, blood clotting issues and circulatory problems as well as hormonal imbalances are likely to occur when the intake of proteins is too low. People who don’t get enough of these nutrients accuse skin problems and hair loss more often and they’re more prone to gaining weight as a low protein diet is generally high in fats and carbs, therefore high in calories.

Eating too much protein on the other hand can lead to dehydration, as proteins require more water than the other nutrients in order to be properly digested and absorbed into cells. Also, it can cause seizure and digestive issues such as irritation and nutritional deficiencies, as people eating too many high protein foods are usually tempted to drastically reduce the intake of carbs and fats, which are also important for maintaining the body’s equilibrium.

Kidney and liver problems, poor coordination, vision impairments and sleep issues are also listed among the health effects of too much protein in diet. But how much protein is too much, you might ask? Although this issue is quite controversial, it’s generally accepted that the mentioned health problems are more likely to occur in people who take more than 35% of their daily calories from protein sources.

Here is a more complete chart of high protein foods you can use as an accurate reference for your daily nutrition planning.

High protein foods

NadiaWritten by: Nadia (17 Posts)

Nadia is a life coach and health writer residing in Toronto.

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