Protein – you know you need it in your body, but do you know why? We’re talking through some of the best natural protein sources today!
What is Protein?
Protein is essential to have a happy, healthy body. It’s a nutrient made up of amino acids that promote healthy tissue growth. According to The United States Department of Agriculture, amino acids are necessary for healthy structures such as muscles, bones, skin and hair.
Benefits of Protein.
By now, you’ve probably heard that protein is critical to having a healthy body, so it should come as no surprise to know that it has many benefits. Cold and flu season? Protein. Repair muscle cells? Protein. Need a new car? protein. Okay, just kidding about the last one! It’s known for protecting the body against viruses and bacterial infections, so it can be very helpful in strengthening your immune system. It can also help repair your muscle cells after an intense workout. That’s why you might see many workout mavens taking a protein drink post-sweat to help rebuild the tiny tears in their muscles. Protein can also help repair cells and make new ones. Additionally, it’s also said that protein can create a feeling of fullness and aid in weight loss.
Is there anything like too much protein?
While protein has its many benefits, it also has its flaws. After all, too much of something is never a good thing, right? Finding the right amount of protein in your diet is important – but how much is enough?
People who are looking for short-term weight loss or are into bodybuilding are ideal candidates for the high-protein diet, according to an interview from Jonathan Valdez, R.D.N., co-chair of the Greater New York Dietetic Association.
According to the Harvard Medical School, the amount of protein one should consume in their diet is commonly quoted as 56 grams per day for men and 46 grams per day for women, but the ideal amount is still uncertain.
According to the same study, too much protein can lead to high cholesterol, a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, increased cancer risk, kidney disease and kidney stones, weight gain, and constipation or diarrhea.
That being said, those who have kidney issues, diabetes, or high blood pressure should typically avoid a diet high in protein. It’s best to have a talk with your doctor first if you’re considering going on a high-protein diet.
What is a high-protein diet?
A high-protein diet is one that primarily focuses on consuming a significant amount of protein while limiting your carbohydrate intake or your fat intake. This diet is sometimes confused for a low-carbohydrate diet, but in a low-carbohydrate diet, you’re able to consume fat instead of trying to limit it.
Examples of foods that are high in protein.
So, where are we expected to find our protein? There are many foods with significant amounts of protein, but here are some of the top ones:
- Chia Seeds
- Greek Yogurt
- Lean Chicken Breast
- Lean Pork Chops
What are the best plant-based protein sources for vegetarians?
When you think protein, it’s normal to assume you must get it from a meat source. But, that’s not entirely true at all! There are plenty of plant-based protein sources out there that give you the adequate amount of protein in your diet. We’ve scoped out 5 of the best vegan plant-based or best natural protein sources for you, according to the BBC!
Eat your oats! There’s a good reason moms and dads swear by oatmeal in the mornings. While it makes you feel fuller longer, oats are also packed with protein at 10g per 100g.
We’ve covered pulses in depth an earlier post, but did you know they’re extremely high in protein? Along those same lines, tofu (bean curd) also has a fair share of protein at 8g per 100g. Here are some other pulses high in protein:
- Lentils– including Puy, green, and red: around 8-9g of protein per 100g
- Chickpeas– including hummus: 7g of protein per 100g
- Garden peas: 7g per 100g
- Beans, including black-eyed, pinto, butter, cannellini, soya, edamame and kidney: between 7-10g protein per 100g
- Baked beans: 5g per 100g
A quick solution for hunger, nuts and seeds are a great option for a high-protein snack. Perfect for eating healthy on the go or pairing with your lunch!
- Hemp seeds – 5g per heaped tablespoon
- Almonds – 3g of protein for every six almonds
- Walnuts – around 3g of protein for every three whole walnuts
- Pumpkin seeds – 4g per tablespoon
- Cashew nuts – 3g per 10 cashew nuts
- Brazil nuts – 4g per six Brazil nuts
- Quinoa- 100g of quinoa (cooked weight) will provide almost 4g protein, but according to the BBC, it’s also known as a complete protein which means it contains all 22 amino acids, making it a great alternative to carbohydrates such as rice and couscous.
- Brown and Wild Rice- Rice is a delicious and filling dish and comes with endless seasoning possibilities. Rice has 4g of protein per 100g, making it rich in protein! Pair it with your favorite veggies or tofu for a completely delicious meal.
Best Natural Protein Sources Resources:
There’s another in-depth article we wrote on micro-nutrients that of-course covers protein but also other important nutrients your body needs. Click here and read all about micronutrients. Also listed below are some great articles around the web on this topic.