The American diet is the exact opposite of what nutritionists recommend. It’s like the right diet reflected in a carnival mirror with red meat and fatty foods given priority over whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. Nutritionists agree what’s wrong with the American diet-too many calories.
High protein foods aren’t hard to come by if you know what you’re looking for. Here are 13 foods high in protein so you can start building muscle and losing fat now.
Benefits and Disadvantages of Eating Foods High in Protein
Diets that are high in protein have proven beneficial effects. If your aim is to build muscle, repair muscle or lose weight, then a high protein diet is an effective strategy. A high-protein diet preserves the lean muscle while you lose fat mass as part of a calorie-controlled diet.
There is a potential downside to a high-protein diet. Studies have shown that a high protein diet may be associated with developing diseases of the metabolic system when the high-protein diet is accompanied by a high-fat diet. There is also evidence of kidney problems and the formation of calcium stones in the urinary tract.
These high protein diet problems are best reduced by ensuring that a high proportion of the proteins are plant proteins. High protein foods that contain animal fats are the most likely to cause problems. In addition, popular diets that involve combining high protein foods with high-fat foods are less healthy than those that contain plenty of fruit and vegetables.
How Does a High Protein Diet Help You Lose Fat?
Eating high protein foods helps reduce fat in several ways.
First of all, if you are eating protein, you’re not eating fat. Simple substitution of protein for fat helps reduce your fat consumption.
Secondly, eating protein stops you feeling hungry. Your body’s mechanism for telling you that you have eaten enough is called satiation. Eating protein rich food acts on this mechanism described below.
Satiation is influenced by the brain and nervous system as well as the gut. This is a complex process but it seems, according to research, that a meal that provides 68% of its energy from protein is significantly more satisfying than one with 69% of energy from carbohydrates.
Being more satisfied means, you are likely to eat less and so lose fat.
A third way eating more protein helps reduce fat is as a result of the way your body processes the protein. Your body uses more energy if you eat a higher protein diet than if you don’t. This effect on your metabolism takes place even when you are asleep.
Exercise and Diet
Building muscle and losing fat is about more than your diet. The type and amount of exercise you do also affect your muscle development.
Taking exercise uses up calories and so reduces the number of consumed calories you convert to fat. Also, your body uses stored fat to make the energy it needs for exercise. Taking exercise together with eating a high-protein and low-fat diet is the best way to lose fat.
So, what are the high-protein foods you should be eating?
Eggs are high in protein and healthy fats. They contain a particular amino acid that is used in muscle gain called leucine. Eggs also contain B vitamins useful for turning glucose and carbohydrates into energy.
Try black, kidney, pinto and butter beans. They are just a few of the huge variety of beans that are great tasting, attractive and easy to prepare. Beans also provide fiber, especially good for digestion and the health of your gut.
Beans also contain useful trace elements including iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. As a plant-based protein, they are better for you than many animal-based proteins. Eat them hot in stews or cold in a salad.
Although beef is an animal-based protein and therefore carries some of the disadvantages mentioned earlier, as part of a balanced diet a little lean beef is fine.
It’s packed with vitamins and minerals. It also contains creatine which is great for increasing muscle mass and strength.
Chicken is packed with protein and is also very low in fat. It’s great for gaining muscle. It also contains vitamins to help you exercise.
Don’t eat the skin as it contains most of the fat present in chicken. As a very low-fat food, it can be a great way of making you feel full without eating high carbohydrates or high-fat food.
Tuna is a delicious addition to salads and sandwiches. It is a low-fat high-protein food with a low-calorie count.
Be careful to avoid tuna served in a dressing that will undermine all the benefits of eating tuna. Mayonnaise or other dressings can contain high amounts of oil or sugar that are high in calories. Even a tuna sandwich may sound healthy but consider the carbohydrates in the bread and calories in the butter.
Turkey, like chicken, is a high-protein food that doesn’t have a high-fat content. It can be served hot or cold so it is a flexible option for mealtimes or food on-the-go. Try it poached or roasted or served with green vegetables in a quick stir-fry.
In recent years quinoa has become popular as an amazing source of vegetarian protein. It shouldn’t be the exclusive food of vegetarians and vegans. It is a superfood containing 11 amino acids.
It also contains carbohydrates that you will digest slowly and so will make you feel fuller for longer.
Use quinoa in soups, stews, and salads like you would pulses or carbohydrates. If you are wondering how to pronounce it, say “keen-wah.”
You might have had deep fried calamari and loved it. Unfortunately cooking calamari or squid that way means you add carbohydrates in the batter and fat in the cooking oil. Try squid cooked quickly as part of a stir-fry with the smallest amount of oil and plenty of fresh vegetables.
This easy-to-cook seafood is high in protein and low in fat. It is a great food for carrying taste from the ingredients you cook with it. It goes great with garlic or soy sauce.
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are a great way of adding protein to dishes. Put them in soup or stew to increase bulk without adding fat. Even cold in a salad they are tasty and filling.
10. Low Fat Cottage Cheese
Dairy products are a useful addition to any balanced diet. They provide essential calcium which is useful for building bone. Having your dairy products in the form of low-fat cottage cheese means you can have the calcium without taking on unwanted fat.
Use it in salads or as a snack with raw vegetables like carrot, peppers or cucumber.
Tofu is sometimes known as soya bean curd. Because it is derived from soya beans, it is a high protein food. It can be used in many meals as an alternative to meat.
Try it in stir-fries, curries, and stews. As well as protein, tofu also provides calcium, essential for healthy bones and teeth. Look out for prepared tofu-based meat alternative meals in your grocery store.
An inexpensive high-protein food that you can add to almost any meal is lentils. Bought either in dried form or canned, they come in a huge variety of types. Lentils are pulses like beans and peas and so provide healthy vegetable-based protein.
Have them in Mediterranean and Asian dishes with plenty of flavoring and spices. Use them curried in a dish called dal (or dahl) but avoid adding the clarified butter or ghee traditionally used. It adds to the calorie count with animal fats.
Salmon is a fish that is caught wild or farmed for its excellent protein-rich meat. It is low in fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids. It’s tasty baked, stewed or eaten smoked.
Eat a Balanced Diet
All the medical and scientific evidence points to one key piece of dietary advice: eat a balanced diet. There are clear disadvantages of eating a high animal protein diet, especially if it is combined with animal fats.
A high-calorie diet means your body deposits the excess calories as fat around the body. Large portions, processed convenience foods, and other fat-rich foods all contribute to poor diet.
Eating foods high in protein and especially plant-based protein is a re-balancing of your diet. By all means, eat other foods that have a higher fat content but eat less of them. There is some nutritional benefit from having more variety because your body needs minerals and nutrients that cannot all be provided by eating a narrow range of foods.
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