If you’re spending a significant amount of time in the gym, trying to get ripped, you should know that a resistance training regimen is only as good as the diet that supports it. For maximum increases in muscle size and strength you will not only need to hit the weights hard, but also make sure you are taking in more high protein food than you otherwise would.
While carbohydrates are our bodies’ primary source of fuel, and give us energy to function, proteins are our source of raw muscle-building material. The amino acids that our bodies glean from the protein in food are used to rebuild damaged muscles and to construct new muscle tissue. These are the processes, induced by resistance training exercises, through which we make gains in muscle size and strength.
Whether you are considering a high protein diet for muscle gain, fat loss, or a combination of the two, the basic rule is the same. A high protein diet will include 30-50% of daily calories from protein, while the recommendation for a typical diet is between 10% and 15%.
It’s not always easy to know what our bodies need. For example, you probably know that a cheeseburger contains a significant amount of protein, but it also comes with an unnecessary amount of fat: especially if your goal is to build lean muscle mass.
Lean meats like poultry, beans, and other legumes are good sources of protein that won’t stick your body with all of the excess. But let’s be honest: eating chicken day after day can get old pretty quickly. Here are 10 foods high in protein and relatively low in fat to help increase your protein intake in a way that will actually benefit your body.
What is Protein?
Proteins are composed of amino acids that are the building blocks of muscle and are found in skin, muscle, organs, hormones and enzymes. Proteins take longer to digest than carbohydrates and therefore keep you fuller for longer without causing drastic changes in blood sugar level. We obtain healthy amounts of proteins in our diet primarily from meats, eggs, fish, beans, nuts, legumes and dairy products.
How much protein do you need?
The recommended daily intake (RDA) of protein is 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men. Also, pregnant and lactating women needing up to 72 grams of protein per day. Athletes or other people looking to build muscle mass may likewise need to consume more protein.
Top 5 High Protein Foods
White meat, such as chicken and turkey breast has high protein and low fat content. Chicken thighs on the other hand are dark meat that has a higher fat content. The fat content of chicken is also altered by the way it is prepared. Frying the chicken increased its fat content.
2. Fish and Seafood
Fish and seafood is an excellent source of protein but has a higher fat content than chicken. However, the fat in fish provides essential fatty acids that are good for the body. Anchovies, sardines, salmon, herring, tuna and mackerel are all good sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Beef, while being a high protein food also has a fairly high fat content. Since the fat contained in beef is not good fat, individuals should choose lean cuts of beef.
4. Dairy Products
Eggs and Dairy Cheese, milk, yoghurt and eggs provide proteins but also contain a high amount of saturated fats that can be bad for you. Use low fat versions where available to avoid unnecessary fats in your diet.
5. Soy Protein
Soy protein is found in soybeans, tofu and miso soup. Soy protein is an excellent source of arginine and glutamine, the two amino acids essential for building muscles.
Popular High Protein Diets
The Atkins Diet and the South Beach Diet are based in high protein, low-carbohydrate combinations of foods, obtaining up to 50% of the calories from protein. It is important to remember that too much protein can place excess load on kidney, cause osteoporosis and heart disease. For this reason the American Heart Association does not recommend high protein diets.
Patients with liver or kidney disease should consult their physician before changing over to a high protein diet. Additionally, a high protein diet does not provide enough vitamins and minerals in the long run.
Are Protein Bars and Shakes Healthy?
Protein shakes and bars are meal replacement products widely available in stores. They are commonly used by individuals wanting to lose weight since they keep hunger at bay. They are a better alternative to fast foods since they are packed with proteins and keep you fuller for longer. Meal replacement bars and shakes are healthy if used as a supplement to a nutritious diet. Eating meal replacements bars and shakes in place of a nutritious meal is probably not a healthy option. When buying protein bars and shakes, look for ones that include vitamins and minerals as well. Lower quality protein bars and shakes have a high sugar content and not as much protein.
In summary, while high protein foods can help you lose weight and keep the hunger away, too much protein can prove harmful to your body. If you consume a high protein meal during the day, chose other foods during the course of the week to ensure you get a healthy balance of all the food groups.