Protein plays a crucial role in a healthy diet. For those looking to build some muscle, it will play a vital component along with exercise and eating the appropriate amount of calories.
As a Registered Dietitian, one of the challenges most of my clients have in the beginning is reaching their protein intake. You might not see the desired results without the right amount of protein.
Including high-protein foods can help you achieve your protein requirements.
In this article, I will list the top ten high-protein foods for you to include in your diet.
Benefits of muscle building
Building and maintaining your muscle mass plays a crucial role in your health. Here are some benefits you can encounter when you have adequate muscle mass.
- Increases your metabolism
- Makes you stronger
- Decreases your risk of falls
- It helps you reduce fat mass
- Improves heart health
- It helps you manage your glucose levels
- Boosts your self-esteem
- Improves your bone health
What does it take to build muscle?
So, what does it take to build muscle? While several factors affect muscle gain, it can be summarized into three key points: calories, protein, and exercise.
To gain muscle, you need to have a caloric surplus (eating more calories than your body needs).To determine how many calories you need to consume, you must first know your maintenance calories.
Your maintenance calories are based on age, weight, height, and activity levels. These are intended to maintain your current weight (no more or no less).
Once you have your maintenance calories, you increase them by 15-20%. This means if your maintenance calories are 2,000, then for weight gain, you should be consuming 2,400 kcal (+20% increase).
The second most important thing is your protein requirements when you have your intended calories. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommends consuming 1.6 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for weight gain (1).
For example, if you weigh 70 kg, you should consume 112 to 140 g of protein daily. Here relies on the importance of adding high-protein foods.
Finally, to gain muscle, you need to stimulate your muscles. When you weight train, you create micro ruptures in your muscles. These micro ruptures are then repaired, and that is when muscle grows.
Including strength training exercises 3-4 times a week is going to play a vital role when it comes to muscle gaining
High protein foods
1. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is one of the best ways to increase your protein. If you have problems meeting your protein requirements, try switching your regular yogurt to Greek yogurt.
In 100 g of Greek yogurt, you get 10.3 g of protein.
One of the benefits of Greek yogurt is that it is very versatile. For example, you can substitute it for sour cream as a healthier option. You can also have it with fruits and some honey for a healthy breakfast or snack.
2. Free Range Eggs
Free Range Eggs contain high-quality protein, and they are also nutrient-rich. In 100 g of eggs, you get 12.4 g of protein. They are one of the best sources to add since they contain all the amino acids that your body needs.
They provide you with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B2 and selenium. Selenium plays a vital role in boosting your immune system.
3. Wild-Caught Fish
Wild-Caught Fish is another excellent source of protein. In 100 g of wild-caught fish, you get 18-20 g of protein.
Besides being high in protein, many species of wild-caught fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential in your body since your body cannot produce them. One of their benefits is that they help reduce inflammation in your body.
If you are looking for a plant-based protein source, edamame is the best option. In 100 g of edamame, you get 11.9 g of protein.
They make a great snack to help you keep full for longer. Try toasting them in the air fryer for a crunchy snack. You can add spices like soy sauce, sesame seed, or garlic powder.
Another great plant-based option is quinoa. In 100 g of quinoa, you get 4.4 g of protein. While this might not sound like a lot, it is one with the highest content when it comes to carbs. For example, quinoa has twice the amount of protein as rice since rice only contains 2 g per 100 g.
If you have trouble reaching your protein requirements, try switching your carbs for higher protein carbs like quinoa.
6. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese makes a quick and easy high-protein snack for you to have. In 100 g of cottage cheese, you get 12.4 g of protein.
Try having some with cherry tomatoes, olive oil, garlic powder, and balsamic vinegar for a high-protein snack. If you want to add a carb, you can include a slice of toast or some rice cakes.
7. Whey protein
Adding a protein powder is one of the best ways to include a protein source. While they are not necessary, they are a great supplement to add if you have trouble reaching your protein requirements.
The amount of protein they contain depends on the brand, but on average, you can get 20 to 25 g of protein per scoop which is the same as having three eggs.
Also Read: Whey Protein 101: The Best Beginners Guide
8. Grass-fed Lean Beef
Finally, if you are looking for another high-protein food, you can try grass-fed lean beef. In 100 g of lean beef, you get 23.4 g of protein.
Grass-fed lean beefs a food high in nutrients since it is a good source of vitamin B3, B6, B12, and selenium.
The bottom line
Including high-protein foods can help increase your satiety levels, gain muscle, and increase your metabolism (helping you lose fat).
If you find it challenging to reach your protein requirements, including these high-protein foods in every meal can help you easily reach your goal.
You can obtain both animal and vegetable protein sources that can go according to your lifestyle. Edamame and quinoa are among the best options for those following a plant-based diet.
Remember to include other foods to have a balanced diet, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.