Breakfast for Athletes
5 High-Protein Foods Nutritionists Want You To Eat More Of
When you think of protein-rich foods, there's a good chance animal meat comes to mind. If you're vegetarian, you likely think of meat stand-ins, such as tofu, tempeh, and seitan. "We tend to have our comfort zones when it comes to proteins," says Ashley Koff, RD, a dietitian in Washington, D.C. "And while that's OK—opting for the same foods can help you avoid feeling confused by all of your options and making a poor choice as a result—it's important to diversify your diet," says Koff. "I have a lot of clients whose go-to sources of protein are eggs, chicken, and Greek yogurt, but I like to encourage them to add other healthy sources of protein for more variety."
How much protein do you need? Mitzi Dulan, RD, author of , says it depends on your weight. In general, Dulan says healthy adults need about 0.75 grams of protein per pound body weight. So for example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you need about 105 grams of protein per day. While the recent popularity of high-protein diets has led some to overdo it on their protein intake, Dulan says she frequently sees clients who aren't getting enough protein, which presents other problems. "One of the biggest challenges with getting too little protein is that you are missing out on the vital role protein plays in satiety," she says. "Often, my clients are eating too many carbs and sugar-filled foods, which can lead to a vicious cycle of overeating and make it harder to reach your weight-loss goals." Add more protein-rich foods to your diet and you'll feel fuller longer, says Dulan, which can help you keep unhealthy cravings in check. (Take back control of your eating—and lose weight in the process—with our !)
Here, Koff and Dulan share some of the high-protein foods they urge their clients to incorporate into their weekly meals—and which they eat themselves, too!
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Before you turn your nose up at these little fish and assume (or insist!) you don't like them, Koff says they're worth another try because they arethatgood for you. "One can of sardines has between 20 and 28 g of protein," she says. "Plus, they're also loaded with omega-3s," says Koff, which have been shown to lower inflammation in the body (a common, chronic condition that has been linked to a number of diseases). Dulan says sardines are one of her top high-protein picks as well, adding that unlike some other sources of protein, sardines pack a big nutritional punch while also being low in calories.
Whether you blend these beans into a tasty hummus, mix them into homemade chili, or sprinkle some on top of a salad (or even use them in a tasty dessert!), chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are an excellent source of protein and fiber, says Koff, which means they are a staple in her pantry. In addition to protein and fiber, chickpeas are also loaded with manganese, folate, copper, iron, and zinc—vitamins and minerals that many Americans don't eat enough of, she says.
This plant-based protein is one of the few grains that qualifies as a complete protein, packing 8 g into just one cup.
Video: Heart healthy nutrition tips
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