People argue about carbs and fat and most everything in between. However, almost everyone agrees that protein is important and it has numerous benefits, including increasing strength and muscle mass, and of course, helping you lose weight.
In this article we’ll be looking at six delicious high-protein foods that are super-healthy, including one that’s part of a highly controversial assertion that’s been all over the internet that I just want to clarify.
I wanted to start with something that was a little unexpected, because I feel like oats are so underappreciated. They’re among the healthiest greens on the planet. They’re loaded with healthy fiber, magnesium, thiamin (or vitamin b1), and several other nutrients. The protein content in oats makes up 15% of the total calories, so 1/2 a cup contains 13 grams with 303 calories.
Oats are also naturally gluten free for those avoiding gluten. However, there’s always the chance that they could be cross contaminated with gluten from sharing the processing and packaging line with gluten containing cereals. If that’s a concern, you can purchase gluten-free oats that have been packaged separately.
Although tuna is very high in omega-3 fats, it’s actually low in total fat when compared to its protein – so what we’re left with is mostly just protein. The protein content of tuna canned in water makes up 94% of its calories, so one cup contains 39 grams of protein with only 179 calories.
Now all other fish varieties are also high in protein and low in fat, and they also tend to be rich in other nutrients, too – particularly salmon.
Whole eggs are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods available. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and other nutrients that most people don’t get enough of. One large egg contains approximately 6 grams of protein and about 80 calories.
Now the vast majority of that protein comes from the egg whites, and all the other nutrients are in egg yolk.
Lentils are among the world’s best sources of plant-based protein, and are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. They’re also high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, folate, and various other important nutrients.
One cup (or 198 grams) of boiled lentils contains 18 grams of protein, with 230 calories. There are other high-protein legumes as well, including soy beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans.
5. Lean Beef
Beef is very high in protein and is rich in highly bioavailable iron, vitamin b12, and many other important nutrients. A three ounce (or 85 grams) serving of cooked beef with 10 percent fat contains approximately 22 grams of protein and 184 calories.
Now beef and it’s protein content have been involved in a very controversial meme, which brings me to the final high protein food.
Broccoli is an incredibly healthy, super-nutritious vegetable. Calorie-for-calorie it contains a lot of protein compared to other vegetables, which is why I thought to include it in this list. In fact, one cup of chopped broccoli contains about 3 grams of protein.
I also wanted to clear up some misinformation that is often shared by vegan advocates, which states that broccoli is a better source of protein than red meat. Now firstly, those numbers are not quite right – they’re actually both about 9 grams of protein per 100 calories. Secondly, it compares per calorie rather than per gram, which is super misleading because meat is very high in calories, whereas broccoli is very low in calories… it’s a green vegetable after all.
So 100 calories of meat is a very tiny portion – around 50 grams or less – compared to 100 calories of broccoli, which is several whole full cups. This claim also lacks context, which is just so important in nutrition. So let’s give it some context – the average 80 kilo person should eat at minimum 60 grams of protein per day based on dietary references. Now assuming that person has already had 30 grams that day, and they needed 30 grams of protein from either beef or broccoli at dinner, you could either eat 130 grams of beef which is about 0.3 pounds (a very modest portion if you think about a restaurant which typically might serve at least 200 or 250 grams), or you could eat 980 grams (or 2.1 pounds) of broccoli, which is about 10 full cups.
So it’s not only about which scenario you prefer, but also about which scenario is actually possible to do in one sitting. I’ve said it many times before in other articles, context is just so important when we’re talking about nutrition.