8 High Protein Foods To Add To Your Diet and Meal PreppingCategory: Primary Menu Fitness
When it comes to reaching your daily macros (macronutrients) it’s important to identify high protein foods that are clean, healthy and high in protein but not high in calories. The word “protein” is being added to tons of marketing materials and onto boxes that really don’t have a lot of protein grams, but because it’s a “buzz” word to big CPG brands it’s important to beware and know some of the best protein sources out there for your diet and meal planning or meal prepping.
Below is a list of 8 of my favorite high protein food sources, snacks and products that you can safely put into your diet each day. Keep in mind if you have allergies or specific diet restrictions not all of these may work for you. If you are vegan or vegetarian most of these will surely not work for you, but you can also opt for plant-based options for some of them. You will also find that when it comes to protein powder and protein bars there are lots of great options for those of you who do not want to use dairy based protein (whey, isolate or casein) and they are just as affordable and delicious.
For me personally I aim to eat 1 – 1.25 grams of protein per pound of my body weight, therefore for someone who is 110lbs you want to aim to eat 110-138 grams per day. You can easily log your meals on apps like MyFitnessPal to help you achieve your daily macro goals. Protein is a macro nutrient necessary for the proper growth and function of the human body. When you are aiming to gain muscle and maintain lean muscle mass having a diet high in lean protein sources is important. It’s all about balance; the right mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Top 12 High Protein Foods To Add To Your Diet and Meal Planning
1. Eggs – most of us think of eggs as just a breakfast food but adding them into your meals throughout the day is a great idea too. Eggs are around 75 calories each (with the yolk), virtually no carbohydrates and high protein. They are a complete protein meaning they contain all essential amino acids for the body. Many people take out the egg yolk, but is one of the few foods to contain Vitamin D and that’s why I eat the yolk. You can have eggs many ways; scrambled, hard-boiled, over easy, as an omelette, beaten and used in recipes. I like to eat them hard-boiled or do a scrambled egg omelette loaded up with vegetables and topped with some organic salsa. Trader Joe’s and Shop Rite both sell de-shelled hard-boiled egg packs in the dairy section with the other egg products for easy consumption.
2. Spirulina Powder – spirulina is a blue/green algae that is a whole food and can be consumed as a tablet form, powder added to smoothies or as flakes. It is a complete protein with all essential amino acids and higher in protein than any other plant protein source. Spirulina is a single-cell, freshwater blue green micro algae containing protein, chlorophyll, vitamin B-12, beta-carotene (vitamin A) and many other naturally occurring nutrients.
3. Protein Powder – there are so many varieties of protein powder out there; from whey to isolate to casein, then plant-based and rice and egg protein powders. Their is surely an option for everyone and it all depends on your goals and your dietary choices. Personally I like natural whey protein like NutriWhey in Belgian Chocolate or a sustained release protein that allows for a slow release and a fast release of protein which I typically have in the evening like Syntha 6 in Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor. 1 scoop of protein powder will get you around 22-24 grams of protein for under 200 calories. Be mindful of protein powder with more than 3-4 grams of fat as they are usually filled with lots of artificial flavors and sugars to taste extra “milk shakey”. I like to do 1 protein shake mid morning and then sometimes 1 in the evening.
4. Protein Bars – just like protein powder, there are a TON of protein bars out on the market, but not all are created equal. Some are glorified candy bars while others are a good source of fast protein when you are in a pinch between meals. I always look for the protein bar to give me at least 18 grams of protein for under 210 calories. I make sure it is on the lower end of fat grams, no more than 8g. I like for my bar to also have a lot of fiber to keep me feeling full (15-18 grams). I also do no like protein bars that use sugar alcohols as they tend to bloat your stomach. The bar I buy most often now is D’s Naturals No Cow Bars which use a plant protein powder and meet all the above criteria for my macros.
5. Grass Fed Beef (organic) – when it comes to meat I seldom eat red meat, but sometimes I do add it into my diet for meatballs or chili or making healthy tacos. I only buy USDA Organic 100% Grass Fed Beef and pick it up at Trader Joe’s. There is a huge difference in taste in this type of ground beef than regular and it is high in protein as well. 4 oz of this beef is around 23-25 grams of protein.One way I love to make chili with ground beef is in my slow cooker with seasonings, white beans, onion and dice tomato.
6. Cottage Cheese – Growing up you couldn’t get me to eat cottage cheese if you bribed me. The texture of it just made me gag, but fast forward to my life now as a person who lifts weight daily and is always looking for good protein sources and I have it almost every night before bedtime. Cottage cheese is a great source of casein protein, a slow release form of protein that is great to eat before bed to allow your body to digest it throughout the night slowly. I usually buy the Trader Joe’s Low Fat Cottage Cheese or Friendship No Salt Cottage Cheese. Please make sure to read your labels and never buy cottage cheese that contains the ingredient “carrageenan” which is a carcinogen that is making its way into tons of dairy products and can cause issues in the digestive system. To make it taste good I add 1/2 scoop of my favorite whey protein powder to flavor the cottage cheese and top with ground cinnamon and a few raw almonds.
7. Organic Chicken – whether you like chicken wings, legs, breasts or tenderloin you can’t go wrong with organic chicken. I only buy organic chicken to ensure the protein source is free of artificial ingredients, antibiotics and colors. You can clearly see the difference in color and texture of organic vs. non organic poultry. I like to make grilled chicken using chicken breasts or tenderloin for meal prep, but I also love making a full chicken in my slow cooker with broth and seasonings or I toss chicken in there with natural BBQ sauce to make pulled chicken. Chicken is a great protein source and can be prepared in so many ways.
8. High Protein Nut Butter Spreads – peanut butter and almond butter are a childhood favorite, but not all of them are “healthy” for you. Make sure to purchase natural protein that has only a few ingredients, natural ingredients! I like that nut butters are now adding protein to them to make them a higher protein source like Buff Bake, D’s Natural Fluffbutter and P28. These have around 10-14 grams of protein for every 2 tbsp so I like to add it to a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread (a sprouted grain bread that is a good protein source as well) or on a brown rice cake or in a protein shake.