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High Protein Foods For Weight Loss 2023 – According To A Dietitian
In a world where diet culture promotes weight loss at all costs, registered dietitians relish the chance to help people improve their health and feel their best by actually eating more food. Unfortunately, diet companies want consumers to believe that energy restriction is the only way to lose weight because that belief system puts money in their pockets. In reality, those diets focus on temporary changes in appearance and often work against long-term health.
Severe calorie restriction does more harm than good, and diets that eliminate an entire food group in what is perceived as a healthy diet may not be beneficial for everyone. If losing weight will benefit your health, it’s best to maintain a consistent energy intake and consume adequate daily protein. Focusing on eating enough protein by including a variety of high-protein foods in your diet can help to promote your healthy body weight. This article will explore protein’s role in sustaining a healthy body weight and some of the best high-protein foods to include in your balanced diet.
What Are High Protein Foods?
People often think of lean meats when they think of high-quality protein sources, but protein can actually come from various food groups. These essential amino acids can be found in many sources, such as protein powders, plant foods, lean meat, and low-fat dairy products. Foods high in protein are an efficient way to consume your recommended intake and help facilitate weight loss when combined with other key nutrients and physical activity.
Protein comprises twenty amino acids, which are the building blocks for your skin, muscles, and hormones. Protein is essential to the enzymes that catalyze many chemical reactions, including those involved in your metabolism. Your body can produce most of these amino acids, but there are nine you must get from dietary protein. Foods that contain the nine essential amino acids are called complete proteins. Foods that do not contain the nine essential amino acids can be combined to form complete proteins.
Best High Protein Foods For Weight Loss
Research suggests that higher-protein diets can contribute to weight loss when paired with a healthy lifestyle. Food with high protein content has been shown to help promote satiety and feelings of fullness, ultimately leading to decreased calorie intake and overall weight loss. But, what foods are high in protein? Below is a high-protein foods list for weight loss or healthy weight maintenance.
There are 30.5 grams of protein per ½ salmon fillet (124 grams).
Both lean and fatty fish are excellent sources of protein and can help support heart health. Research shows that fish intake can help prevent heart disease due to its healthy fats. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help support your overall health and, specifically, your heart health.
There are 24.2 grams of protein per cup (220 grams) of low-fat cottage cheese.
Cottage cheese is a great way to boost your protein consumption. Cottage cheese is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a food high in protein to pair with your carbohydrate choices. For example, try pairing it with cut-up fruit for a refreshing breakfast, or add it to your favorite lasagna recipe to bump the protein content.
There are 8.2 grams of protein per one cup of low-fat milk.
Dairy milk is a high-quality protein source rich in other key nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin B12, and phosphorous. Furthermore, including milk in your recipes is an excellent way to consume more protein while also supporting your bone health.
There are 24.6 grams of protein per every 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of lean beef.
Red meat is a great source of protein and is also rich in iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and B6. However, red and processed meats can be high in saturated fat, so it’s important to choose lean cuts to help support your heart’s health and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.
Skinless Chicken Breast
There are 27.3 grams of protein per 3 ounces (85 grams) of chicken breast.
Skinless chicken breast is an excellent source of high-quality protein and a very common lean meat. It is an alternative to red meat and can be used in many delicious recipes. It is rich in B vitamins as well as zinc and selenium. Consider adding sliced or diced chicken breast to your salads, soups, and casseroles.
There are 25.6 grams of protein per every 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of cooked turkey breast.
Turkey breast doesn’t just have to come out for the holidays. Turkey is a lean, protein-rich food that compares to red meat without high levels of saturated fat. If choosing deli turkey for sandwiches, monitor your sodium intake as processed meat tends to contain a significant amount of sodium.
There are 19.9 grams of protein per standard container (7 ounces) of Greek yogurt.
Greek yogurt, plain and unsweetened, is a very versatile protein source. It can be included in your favorite protein-rich recipes, or you can simply enjoy it on its own. It is also rich in calcium, selenium, zinc, and vitamin A. Try adding it to your favorite smoothies, dips, salad dressings, or baked goods for a boost in protein.
There are 6.2 grams of protein per egg (50.3 grams).
Eggs sometimes get a bad rap, but in reality, they can be excellent protein sources and a key part of a balanced diet. Eggs offer many benefits and are very versatile. Egg whites consist of almost only protein, but the egg yolks provide other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and even antioxidants.
There are 8.1 grams of protein per cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa.
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you rely on plant proteins to meet your estimated needs. Quinoa is often considered a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids that your body cannot produce. However, research has shown it is low in the amino acid lysine. Still, it is rich in fiber, folate, zinc, iron, and copper. Additionally, it is higher in protein than most other grains.
There are 6.8 grams of protein in every ounce (28.3 grams) serving of creamy peanut butter.
Natural peanut butter has become a staple protein source for many. It is rich in protein, Vitamin E, folate, and magnesium. In addition, research has shown that adding peanut butter to a meal with a high carbohydrate content may reduce spikes in blood sugar after the meal. Try adding peanut butter to your protein shakes, eat a peanut butter sandwich on the go, or use it as a tasty dip with sliced apples.
There are 9 grams of protein per every ½ cup (99-gram) serving of cooked lentils.
Cooked lentils are a great source of protein and provide various other nutrients such as fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, and copper. Research has also shown that those who regularly consume lentils and other legumes have a decreased risk of heart disease.
There are 24.4 grams of protein per ½ cup (100-gram) serving of black beans.
Black beans are highly nutritious and can be used in various dishes. Black beans can be a valuable part of many high-protein diets, including animal products or following a plant-based diet. Try adding black beans to your next pot of chili, or try a black bean quesadilla.
There are 9.8 grams of protein per every ¼ cup (32.25 grams) serving of dried pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of plant-based protein, and their nutritional value extends beyond their protein content. They are also packed with key minerals such as iron, zinc, phosphorous, and magnesium. Try adding them to salads, baked goods, yogurt parfaits, or oatmeal. You may also enjoy flax seeds or hemp seeds in the same fashion.
Supplemental protein powder can be an excellent component of a high-protein diet. If you have difficulty meeting your protein needs each day, consider adding a protein shake between meals. You can mix your favorite protein powder with other protein-rich foods to create a refreshing and nourishing snack. Whether you aim to build muscle mass or maintain muscle mass, shakes can be a great source of protein while also providing other key nutrients. Furthermore, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you can find supplements made with plant proteins.
There are 5.9 grams of protein per cup of cooked oatmeal.
Plant-based protein can play a vital role in a high-protein diet. A simple change from white flour products to those made with whole grains can increase the nutritional value of your overall protein and carbohydrate intake. So, next time you choose a breakfast cereal, consider a bowl of oatmeal garnished with your favorite fruit or maybe even a serving of peanut butter.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for minimum daily protein intake is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, it’s important to note that this is a general recommendation, and it only reflects the bare minimum that the average human body needs to function. In fact, many factors can influence your estimated protein needs, such as your age, activity level, and chronic health conditions. So, it’s best to work with your registered dietitian to determine your individual protein needs.
Most people consume more than enough protein to prevent protein deficiency. However, if dietary protein is in short supply, your body will use protein from its skeletal muscle to support other vital tissues and bodily functions. Therefore, adequate protein intake is essential to maintaining muscle mass. In fact, consistently falling short of your protein needs may lead to the wasting of your muscle tissue.
On the other hand, consuming too much protein can actually lead to weight gain. This is because your body cannot store protein. Any excess protein will be stored as body fat. If you aim to lose weight to improve your overall health, examine how much protein you typically consume on an average day. If you fall short of the minimum RDA, consider adding more high-protein foods to your healthy diet.
Growing research suggests that high-protein diets can contribute to healthy body weight maintenance, along with many other essential bodily functions. Including healthy protein foods with each meal is an effective way to space out your daily intake and give your body ample time to digest and utilize the macronutrients. While some foods offer more protein per serving than others, there is an endless array of foods with a high protein content that you can incorporate into your healthy eating routine.
It’s important to remember that your worth is not determined by the number you see on the scale. However, if losing weight helps to improve your overall health, you may consider increasing your protein intake to help reach your body weight goals. If you’re not sure how much protein you need each day or would like to adjust your intake in order to lose weight, it is best to work with your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist to design a healthy diet that is right for you.
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