Simple healthy food choices to top-up your daily protein quota.
The benefits of including plenty of protein in your diet goes beyond hitting your weight lossgoals. As well as boosting your metabolism and reducing appetite, protein is essential for promoting muscle growth and repair.
That said, certain foods do come with higher protein levels than others, so it pays to plan your weekly shopping list.
What are the benefits of protein?
‘Our whole body is made of protein and every part of us needs a constant supply of protein to maintain its function,’ says Sophie Medlin, registered dietitian and owner at City Dietitians. ‘If you sustain an injury, are trying to gain muscle or are a growing child, you need even more protein to allow for this.’
‘Different foods contain different types of proteins and they have different roles in the body,’ she adds. ‘The different types of proteins are called amino acids and there are nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make themselves.’
How much protein do we need?
‘It is really important that your diet contains plenty of these essential amino acids to make sure that our organs can do their jobs, the right hormones are made in the right quantities and all other crucial functions are maintained,’ says Medlin.
?The British Nutrition Foundation recommends 0.75g of protein per kilogram bodyweight per day for adults.
‘Meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, soy, quinoa and buckwheat are complete proteins, meaning that they provide all essential amino acids,’ adds Medlin. ‘Other plant based protein sources like beans and nuts are not complete proteins as they don’t contain all the essential amino acids. They must be combined with grains and other protein sources through the day to ensure all needs are met.’
Medlin recommends you follow a diet rich in the following high protein foods to get the best out of your health:
Eggs are an excellent source of protein and are good value for money too. One large eggs contains, on average, 6g of protein and comes packed with essential nutrients.
Fish is an excellent source of lean protein and comes with a wealth of health benefits. Salmon contains about 22 grams of protein in a three ounce portion, so add it to your shopping list.
Quinoa contains more than eight grams of protein per cup and can rival some meats for protein power. Packed with all the essential amino acids, quinoa is also versatile and can be added to everything from soups to salad.
Chickpeas are low in fat and high in protein, making them a great addition to your diet. The amount of protein in chickpeas is similar to eggs, which contain 6-7g per egg, so add it to your salads, stews and curry.
Cottage cheese packs 11g of protein per 100g serving and it’s super versatile, so pair it with crackers or carrot sticks for the perfect protein fix.
Beans are a great source of protein, but plant-based protein sources like beans and nuts are not complete proteins as they don’t contain all the essential amino acids. They must be combined with grains and other protein sources throughout the day to ensure all needs are met.
Soya products like soya yogurt, tofu and soya based meat alternatives are a great source of protein and can help with reducing the amount of fat in the diet if used in place of meat.
Skimmed milk is an excellent source of protein for encouraging muscle growth. Alternatively, soy milk provides around seven grams of protein and contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete source.
Nut butter is high in protein, potassium, and fibre, making it a healthy but tasty snack. Nut butters on toast will offer complete proteins by combining grains and nuts.
Buckwheat is packed with protein and is also gluten-free, so a good option for people who are gluten-intolerant.