High Protein Foods for Weight Loss
How important is protein to your health? Well, to put it simply, proteins are part of every organ in our bodies. They are also part of every tissue, corpuscle and, yes, every cell that makes you who you are. Lack of protein in your diet can weaken your immune system, damage your heart, wreck your respiratory system, decrease your muscle mass and kill you.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say protein is pretty important.
Severe protein deficiency is rare in the developed nations of the world but there are individuals who either struggle to get adequate protein for optimum health or neglect this essential building block of life.
Athletes, bodybuilders, people who have had weight loss surgery and those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet may need to add high protein foods to their diets to reach their proper protein level per day.
Fortunately, protein rich foods are readily available in tastes, textures and sources to please just about everybody.
When it comes to foods high in protein, the first group that crosses a carnivore’s mind is the meats. While meat is certainly an excellent source of complete protein, containing all essential amino acids necessary for building muscle, blood and other body systems; a note of caution is in order. When choosing beef or pork, it is essential to choose lean cuts to avoid consuming too much saturated fat. When choosing poultry, you’ll want to avoid the skin and the dark meat portions like drumsticks and thighs as they also bring an excess share of saturated fat to the table.
While cheeses certainly qualify as high protein foods, they can also contain high quantities of saturated fat and are often high in sodium. As a general rule, the hard cheeses contain the most protein per volume. Low sodium Parmesan cheese, for instance, packs about 10 grams of protein into each ounce. The softer Romano, Mozzarella and Swiss cheeses contain about 9 grams of protein per ounce and by the time you get to even softer cream cheeses, the protein content drops down to less than 5 grams per ounce.
Seafood is a great option for those seeking high protein and healthy fats.
Yellowfin Tuna leads the fish parade with about 9 grams per ounce and is closely followed by Salmon, Halibut, Snapper and Tilapia with about 7 to 8 grams of protein per ounce. If your taste runs toward shellfish, you’ll be glad to know that shrimp certainly makes the high protein foods cut with about 7 grams of protein per ounce while lobster and crab each weigh in at a respectable 5 grams of protein per ounce.
For those living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, mature roasted soybeans rank high on the list of protein foods with 68 grams of protein per cup. As a general rule, older and larger beans tend to pack the highest protein punch.
A wonderful European vegan high protein option that is becoming increasingly popular in the United States is yeast extract. Sold in a spreadable form and also known in some circles as Marmite, this nutritious bread or cracker companion gives you about 1.7 grams of protein per teaspoon and a decent amount of vitamin B12.
Other great protein sources for people who abstain from meat include hemp seeds, quinoa, most beans, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and just about every type of nut.
Although many of the vegetarian protein options are incomplete proteins, lacking one or more essential amino acids, it is quite easy to achieve the benefit of a complete protein by eating a complimentary food.
The classic example of this is combining rice and beans but many other similar combinations are readily found in vegetarian and vegan cookbooks.
In addition to enjoying a wide variety of high protein foods, many people find it convenient to add high protein shakes to their diets. These are often essential in the early stages of recovery from weight loss surgery and also come in handy for people with busy lifestyles or individuals seeking a healthy weight loss program. Dieters, athletes and body builders often supplement these protein shakes with high protein bars and other protein snacks to help maintain or develop muscle mass.
Whether you are looking to lose weight, heal from surgery or build muscle, a high protein diet will help you achieve your goal. We strongly recommend choosing lean protein foods as many foods high in protein, particularly the meats and cheeses, can be high in saturated fats which can negatively impact your cardio-vascular system. With a little caution and a little common sense, protein rich foods can be one of the most enjoyable parts of your healthy lifestyle.