Protein – also known as a macronutrient – is one of the most important parts of a healthy diet, as well as an important component of the cells in our body. Did you know your hair and nails are made of protein? Not only does the body require protein to help build and repair tissues, but it also builds enzymes, hormones, and other chemicals found in the body, and is essential in building bones and muscles, cartilage and skin, and even the blood.
When it comes to getting protein from the foods we eat, the Dietary Reference Intake recommends getting approximately 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or 0.36 grams per pound.) On average, sedentary men require approximately 56 grams of protein per day, while women require around 46 grams per day. As for finding foods that are high in protein, it’s important to make sure you’re consuming the right kinds of foods in order to reap all of the benefits.
Examples of high-protein foods include:
• White-meat poultry (such as chicken, pork tenderloin and turkey)
• Seafood (such as tuna, halibut and salmon)
• Dairy products (such as milk, cheese and Greek yogurt)
• Lean beef
• Nuts (such as peanuts, cashews and almonds)
• Beans (such as green beans)
• Whole grains (such as quinoa)
So just how much protein do some of these foods have?
• 1 large egg contains as much as 6 grams of protein
• Nuts contain as much as 6 grams of proteins per ounce
• White-meat poultry, like skinless chicken, contains up to 53 grams
• Dairy products, like Greek Yogurt, contains as much as 17 grams
There are many different ways in which you can incorporate these protein-rich foods into healthy meals, too. For example, chicken and lean beef can be paired with steamed vegetables, and eating vegetables also comes with many additional health benefits, such as promoting healthy eyes and skin; while eggs and dairy products can be incorporated into breakfasts. For example, by making an omelette, or by mixing oatmeal with a bit of milk or yogurt (depending on your own personal preference.)
If you don’t have time to make a meal or are stuck on ideas, your next best option may be to have a meal replacement drink or eat a protein bar. However, it’s important that you read the ingredients prior to consumption, as some of these bars can be quite high in sugar and other ingredients you might want to avoid. You should also make sure that the bar you choose contains a minimum of at least 6 grams of protein.