Consuming enough protein is not only critical for the building and maintaining muscle, but it also happens to be important for a healthy nutritional profile. But that same old chicken breast can get pretty boring, and there are only so many flavors you can eat before you start to sprout feathers—particularly if you’re trying to adhere to the one-gram-per-pound of protein sources.
If you’re in a rut and want to shake up your diet, try new protein sources such as egg whites, fish, or legumes. Or just consider trying something different out of preference that suits what you have to eat in the moment.
The global popularity of beans has been increasing in recent years. They are loaded with protein, which makes them a great food to include in your diet. Plus, a one-half cup of beans has more protein than an ounce of steak! With all the benefits that beans have, even one cup can provide a fair amount of protein. This is particularly true if you pick black, adzuki, white, or kidney beans for the job.
It’s worth noting that about 15 grams of protein can be found in each cup of those four types of beans. Beans are a common source of protein and fiber. They help fill you up without overeating, which is key when it comes to maintaining a proper weight.
Soy foods like tofu and edamame offer roughly the same amount of protein as other beans. Tofu, though it comes in a bigger package, has approximately 22 grams of protein per 50 grams. Soy is actually good for you. It’s had a bad rap in the past, but many of the alleged health effects are overblown. Just make sure you pick natural soy or always take it with your doctor before trying something new or eating controversial foods.
Lentils are popular around the world and are a good source of protein. The Mediterranean region, south Asia, and more consume lentils in a variety of ways like in vegetarian dishes and whole-grain foods. Lentils are dried legumes that have a long shelf life. They provide you with 15 grams of protein per cup, which is third highest by weight. They also contain thiamine, a vitamin B1 that is required for proper metabolism and body functions.
On the surface, peanuts are seeds. In reality, they are legumes related to beans and lentils. Their protein content rivals that of other beans like rice and kidney beans. Those who eat peanuts regularly are less likely to gain unwanted weight than those who don’t. Eating peanut butter? Natural sources like unsalted, sunflower-seed spread are best.
Almonds are true nuts and among some of the most protein-rich of all the different varieties. They provide approximately six grams of protein per ounce or roughly 20 grams per half cup. Besides contributing to heart health with their many antioxidants, almonds can also help to strengthen bones and hair growth! A study showed that overweight and obese people on a low-calorie, almond-enriched diet had a 56 percent greater reduction in body fat compared with those on a low-calorie, high-carb diet.
Among leafy green vegetables, the little Brussels sprout is a powerhouse of protein; more than one quarter of their caloric value is protein. One cup provides three grams of protein, or about eight percent of the recommended daily value and about 130 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. Like other cruciferous vegetables, they are rich in fiber and may help to protect against cancer.
Seafood is an important source of protein that allows you to maintain an energy diet and avoid going over your recommended daily intake. They also have a low level of fat and are a great source of minerals, such as iodine and zinc. Oysters are also a great source of iron, zinc, selenium, iodine, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Quinoa is gluten-free and considered a superfood. It is related to beets, spinach, and can be harvested for its seeds. This unique grain is becoming more popular and is being consumed as a healthy alternative to rice and pasta. A complete protein source is one that provides all the essential amino acids, not just a large amount. Eight grams of protein provide not only a great way to spruce up a salad or a cup of brown rice, but also adds nutrients to your diet.
If you want to be paleo, try adding spirulina to your diet. Spirulina is a nutrient-rich cyanobacteria that was harvested and pressed into dried cakes by the indigenous peoples of Mexico. Spirulina is one of the densest sources of complete protein on the planet with an approximate 65-71% content. You can compare that to beef, which has about 22% and other low-key sources like soybean meal.
Arthropods are a source of protein for humans, who have traditionally eaten them since time immemorial. One way that arthropods differ from other sources of protein is in their low fat, high protein nature. They provide an alternative to man-made, over processed meats and can help to improve the overall healthiness of your diet.
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