Nutritionists all know that protein is an essential macronutrient – more so for those who are active and athletic. After all, it is the macronutrient building block that our bodies need to build muscles, among other things. Plus, if you’re practising good nutrition principles to prevent weight gain (or lose weight) then you know that protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer – goodbye, sudden cravings for junky snacks! And if you’re a bodybuilder, or your sport of choice is all about lifting heavy weights, then you need protein to help repair the inevitable muscle damage.
The only problem is that some of these macronutrients are high in saturated fats and bad cholesterol. So you have to make sure that your diet consists of a variety of different protein sources – and preferably, those that are good for you.
Here are 5 protein-rich foods that you should be adding to your shopping list
Packed with protein and high in Omega-3 fats, salmon is possibly one of the best fish you can eat. Omega-3s are excellent in assisting with weight loss, by reducing insulin resistance and speeding up fat oxidation.
Wild salmon contains 20% more protein and less fat which makes it a better option.
Bake, steam or grill salmon and serve with a lemon and herb sauce, and a salad for a healthy lunch or dinner. Or, for a tasty breakfast add salmon to scrambled eggs.
Turkey contains the amino acid, leucine, which assists in blood sugar levels and the function of insulin. You are less likely to binge eat during the day if your blood sugar levels are steady.
Lean, boneless and skinless white meat contains more protein, less fat and is lower in calories. Take note that when buying turkey meat from the deli it may be higher in sodium, which could lead to water retention.
Make a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato on wholewheat bread for lunch, or grill turkey breasts and serve with steamed sweet potato and a crunchy salad for a healthy dinner.
One of the best dairy products for improved health, cottage cheese contains approximately 67mg of calcium, which can help maintain muscle mass and your metabolism, helping you to burn calories more efficiently throughout the day.
Buy cottage cheese with 0% or 1% fat.
For a mid-morning or afternoon snack, serve cottage cheese with sliced tomato on crackers. You can also use cottage cheese instead of butter or mayo.
Canned tuna is a good source of protein and one can contains approximately 60 calories, which makes it a good meal option. It is also a good source of vitamins B3, B6 and B12.
Buy tuna that is canned in water instead of oil, which can turn an otherwise healthy source of protein into protein loaded with fat and calories.
Mix tuna with Greek yoghurt and put into wholewheat pita bread with chopped lettuce, tomato and cucumber, for a quick and easy, healthy meal. Or, mix tuna with low fat mayo and use as a spread on crackers as a mid-morning or afternoon snack.
Peanut butter is a healthy source of protein and is rich in monounsaturated fats, Two tablespoons of peanut butter contains approximately 180 calories, which can assist in weight loss.
Buy natural peanut butter with no salt and other additives.
Make a peanut butter and banana smoothie for breakfast, or a simple peanut butter on wholewheat bread sandwich for lunch!
If nutrition is your passion – and something you’d like to make a career out of – then take a look at Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Specialised Nutrition Certification.