Proteins are not only an attractive component in the nutritional tables of any product, in fact we, living beings, are mainly protein, as it is for example the main component of our muscles, our skin, nails, hair, in addition to cartilage, ligaments and also microscopic internal components such as antibodies, enzymes, hormones or hemoglobin, which is why it is vital to know and understand which are the high protein foods.
Proteins are biomolecules that are composed of chains of amino acids, and are naturally present in virtually every biological process of the human being, so it is an essential component for such basic functions of the body, such as tissue repair, the process of oxygenation, strengthening the immune system and of course, also to generate the energy we need every day.
As you can see, these molecules, also called protides, are one of the most essential elements for life, and therefore knowing which are the high protein foods, is an important quality that will allow you to generate better habits to ensure you get them fully, but also to take care not to fall into an excess risk either.
- 1 Optimum daily protein intake
- 2 Proteins and Amino Acids
- 3 Foods rich in animal proteins
- 4 White meat
- 5 Fish and shellfish
- 6 Dairy and eggs
- 7 Foods rich in proteins of vegetable origin
- 8 Cereals
- 9 Legumes
- 10 Seeds and nuts
- 11 Health benefits of a high protein diet
- 12 How to follow a diet high in protein
- 13 High-protein diet for weight loss
- 14 Side effects of an excessive protein diet
Optimum daily protein intake
According to the Association of Nutritionists and Dietitians, the average person should consume between 0.65 and 0.8 g. of protein / kilo of body weight. In other words, a person weighing 70 kilos should make sure to include at least 56 grams of protein in their daily diet.
Due to the physical difference in gender, it is estimated that on average men consume an average of 55 grams of protein daily. A little more than the average 45 grams of protein for women.
Although it is clear that these indicators are relative and very dependent on each person, not only in terms of weight, but also in terms of other factors, such as the fact of being in the growth stage or in terms of the amount of physical activity that is done, because those people who exercise more per day, therefore require a greater amount of protein, compared to those who develop a more sedentary life.
Proteins and Amino Acids
There are 22 main amino acids that are inside the human being, although almost half of them cannot be generated autonomously; this is why the consumption of proteins also becomes an essential factor to be able to obtain those essential amino acids.
Among these amino acids are the Methionine, Phenylalanine, Valine, Tryptophan or Arginine, essential to regulate the function of the endocrine glands, although in general they are all important for a healthy development, so it becomes important to consider the presence of high protein foods.
Foods rich in animal proteins
Many of the products of animal origin, represent some of the main types of high protein foods. However, it is not only a question of quantity, but also the ability of the body to take advantage of each of these, which implies different factors. Even so, here we present those that are currently considered, and based on extensive scientific documentation, as some of the most important high protein foods with an animal origin.
There are two main conceptions about meat, the nutritional one and the culinary one. The latter classifies meat according to its color and physical characteristics, which, as its name indicates, has a reddish hue in this case, while those with a paler or whiter hue are classified as white meats. This sometimes leads to confusion, because from a nutritional perspective, red meats are those from mammals, while white meats are those from birds.
In the practice, the culinary vision has a greater preponderance, although it is through the definition and measurement of myoglobin that a certain consensus has been reached about which meat is considered red and which white. Under this principle, some birds are taken as red meat, for example the ostrich, or some fine cuts such as the loin, in the case of the pig; while some mammals are considered white meat, such as the rabbit.
The food industry’s interest in meat, by classifying certain products as white meat, because they enjoy a better reputation, has also been a reason for some animals such as swine to be considered white meat in some parts, although in the WHO definition prevails as red meat, as well as beef, horse, ox, goat and even veal. In this sense here we list the most prominent red meats as foods rich in protein.
It is difficult to categorically state which type of red meat has the highest protein intake, as it depends on the quality, the different breeds, as well as the part of the animal, as there are significant variations. And although in some very simple references about beef, it is pointed out that this is one of the main meats considered as high protein foods, having an average higher than 20 grams of protein per 100 g of meat can in fact be misleading if we consider that the range can vary from 16 to 36 grams, depending on different factors.
Among the most prominent parts in protein, according to the current database (to 2017) of the USDA is the top round, which contains 36.12 grams of protein per 100 g, particularly if cooked over low heat.
Similarly, the bottom round also stands out with almost 35 grams of protein in the same proportion, also when it is a product reduced in fat, and in fact several parts of the top round are among the high protein foods.
Also the diezmillo (chuck arm pot roast), also stands out with levels higher than 34 grams of protein. And also various cuts from the chest, also can exceed 30 grams of protein under some cooking and selection processes.
This type of meat is also a good example of high protein foods to increase muscle mass.
Veal, i.e. beef or beef slaughtered before the age of 6 months, is also often appreciated as one of the foods rich in protein. On average it has about 24.3 grams of protein per 100 g of meat.
Although the USDA also recognizes some variants and specific parts of the veal that also come to have a very high protein index, as is also the top round, which exceeds 36 g of protein/100 g.
Other parts such as the shoulder and entrecot, likewise appear with levels above 34% protein ratio, although of course, many appreciate this type of foods rich in protein, particularly for its flavor and smoother consistency.
Very similar is also the contribution of protein from lamb meat, which has an average of 25 grams of protein per 100 g of meat, but is also one of the most outstanding high protein foods, because in some parts it also reaches levels of up to 35 grams, similarly in those parts mainly from the top of the animal and high quality products that are cooked over low heat.
Considering the WHO definition, we include pork also in this category, although some of its parts considered as one of the main protein-rich foods, also come to be considered as white meat, as is the case of the loin, which particularly whole on the grill, reaches an average of 27 grams of protein per 100 grams.
However, in some cases, such as cooked bacon, they can exceed 35 grams of protein per 100 g, even exceeding 39 g/100 g, in the case of bacon cooked in microwaves, although of course, making it clear that this process can undermine other properties.
White meats are widely valued not only because their production is more efficient in terms of economy and space, but also because they result in an alternative food rich in protein, healthier and with fewer harmful substances, which also means a lower risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases for example.
The average of 30 grams of protein included in every 100 g of rabbit meat represents the highest average level according to the USDA; under the approach that considers this type of food as a white meat.
In this sense the most recent database of this same prestigious instance, highlights the stew of wild rabbit meat, as the largest possible contribution to this animal (33g), which also stands out for having a lower contribution of calories, and mainly a much lower proportion of cholesterol compared to other meats, being one of the most prominent foods rich in protein and low in fat.
The 27 grams of protein / 100 g of meat that the chicken has on average, also make it an important source of this type of macromolecules indispensable for life.
And in this case, some pieces such as the breast of fattening chickens, cooked fried, represents the highest protein intake of all parts from poultry (only surpassed by the tail of emu) with more than 33 grams per serving of 100 g of meat.
Generally it is the breast where most of the protein is concentrated, although the giblets are not so far behind, getting to exceed 32 grams of protein if cooked fried, being also prominent protein-rich foods.
If you are looking for foods rich in protein and low in fat, you will find a better alternative in turkey, at least in comparison with chicken; and although on average, it also implies a greater source of protein, with an average of 29 grams per 100 g; it does not have parts or cooking processes that generate cases of contributions as extraordinary as in chicken.
Shredded and grilled, the fat-free turkey represents the largest possible contribution of proteins for this species, reaching over 31 grams in the same proportion we have been analyzing, although some other parts such as the breast, wings or thigh, particularly roasted, also reach over 30 g of protein per / 100 g of meat.
Fish and shellfish
In this category we can also find some products, which besides being great tasting, represent some of the main foods rich in proteins and low in fat, particularly the less healthy ones; however, here we can also find some of the major contributions of other important fats such as Omega 3 or Omega 6.
According to the USDA, the dried and salted cod of the Atlantic, represents by far the largest contribution of protein in terms of fish and shellfish, its 62.82 grams of protein per 100 grams, which means that almost two thirds of this marine animal are pure protein.
The sea snail (whelks) also represents one of the most prominent protein-rich and low-fat foods in the animal kingdom, as it has less than 1 g of fat and instead more than 47 g of protein in every 100 g of meat cooked in moist heat.
In this sense, another very important mollusk is the squid, which represents more than 32 grams of protein under the same cooking process.
In this list we cannot leave out other species of fish such as sturgeon, tuna, anchovies or salmon, all with levels of around 30 grams of protein.
Dairy and eggs
In animal by-products such as eggs, cheese and milk we can also find some of the most extensive foods rich in protein, here the most outstanding examples.
This is one of the most surprising examples of foods rich in proteins, because when the egg is extracted from the liquids, it is capable of being left with an astonishing proportion superior to 80% of proteins, that is to say, beyond the water, it is almost pure protein.
Among the cheeses, we have several with important protein inputs, but no doubt currently has none as rich as Parmesan cheese, also rich in a nutritional sense, reaching to exceed 37 g protein / 100 g in its presentation in pieces, and even surpassing 40 g when it comes to a low sodium version.
As for milk, the presentation that can offer a greater amount of protein, is the one powdered, surpassing even the 37 g of protein / 100 g in cases where it is added with vitamins A and D.
Foods rich in proteins of vegetable origin
Products of vegetable origin have also gained great value with respect to the daily intake of proteins for human beings, as in many cases they do not involve the intake of other unhealthy components found in meat products, so that some alternatives can be highly attractive. This is an area that vegetarians should take special care of, as the lack of proteins is their greatest risk, although it can be diluted considering the intake of vegetables rich in proteins.
If you have to highlight a cereal as one of the most prominent high protein foods, of course we must talk about wheat germ, particularly in its raw state, as this way will be providing more than 23 grams of protein / 100 g, which is a larger contribution than some pieces of chicken for example.
The common spaghetti is not usually an extraordinary contribution of proteins in its habitual presentation, although there are some products of quality, dry, enriched and fortified, where it is possible to obtain contributions superior to 20 g of protein.
Oats in general represent one of the cereals with the highest protein intake on the planet, reaching almost 17 g / 100 grams of portion, and even a little more in the case of raw oat bran.
In soybeans we find some of the most surprising contributions of protein on the planet, because only in its natural presentation are more than 36.4 grams of protein per 100 g of weight. But even more remarkable is the soy flour which can exceed 50% of protein proportion in the case of its non-fat presentation, or even more surprising is the isolated soy protein, a product that in fact represents the largest percentage of more than 8 thousand foods classified in the database of the USDA (88.32 / 100 g).
Peanuts are another great example of legumes with a high protein content, as their raw presentation represents a quarter of protein, a figure that more than doubles when referring to peanut flour.
Seeds and nuts
Within the seeds we have many examples of foods rich in protein, for example sesame seeds, especially their presentation in low-fat flour, which becomes protein in more than 50%.
We have another similar case with cotton seeds and sunflower seeds, which also come to touch 50% protein proportion, also pumpkin seeds, dried or roasted, exceed 30 grams of protein / 100 g weight.
Although the common portion of nuts and dried fruit barely reaches the gram of protein in every 100, some fruits, such as goji berries, are distinguished by being, notoriously, the nut with the highest contribution of protein: 14.26 grams / 100 g weight.
Health benefits of a high protein diet
A diet with a broad base of protein-rich foods implies an extraordinary supply of energy from the outset; that is to say, that we have the capacity to make greater physical efforts, without feeling so easily fatigued.
Remember that proteins also have a catalytic function within the organism; some enzymes such as pepsin are key, for example, to be able to degrade food in the digestive system, which translates into a diet that helps us to better discard those unnecessary components, which is related to weight control.
In addition, high protein nutrition also significantly strengthens our defenses, not only those linked to the immune system, but also to protect external parts, for example, the skin, since a diet of this type can encourage the generation of keratin.
With a diet rich in protein and low in fat, we can also improve our neurological functions thanks to their receptor qualities, thus optimizing skills such as concentration or memory.
How to follow a diet high in protein
In order to eat a diet high in protein we must start by taking into account that in general terms a proportion of 15 to 35% of protein is recommended within the total calorie intake; and although some diets precisely seek to reach the maximum recommended, there are also some others that reach up to 40% of protein.
In this sense you will be very useful to keep a record, from a food diary or some other control system that allows you to have an accurate count of the amount of nutrients, considering also keep a report of possible observations, to ensure a positive evolution according to your expectations.
As part of the strategy, you should also design menus with a wide variety of foods, so that you are sure to fully comply with the different essential inputs.
High-protein diet for weight loss
To design a high-protein diet, the key lies in proportionally reducing the amount of carbohydrates and fats, as fewer calories will be needed from these components.
To be able to carry out a diet of this type, it is also recommended to opt for products of good quality, as well as efficient for this purpose, for example prioritizing lean meats, fortified products or those foods rich in protein but low in fat, so as not to generate unnecessary surpluses.
As a more efficient way to manage our food consumption throughout the day, with this type of diet is suggested to give a generous importance to breakfast, which will be of great help to regulate our appetite during the day. Do not think that this will mean eating more, with a diet like this, if well implemented, the reduction of calories becomes considerable.
Just keep in mind that you will also need a dose of exercise to be able to burn the excess fat, and thus keep your muscles toned, while you are losing the extra kilos.
Side effects of an excessive protein diet
One of the main risks with a diet based on protein-rich foods, is the increase in the amount of ammonia in the blood, so it becomes an indispensable factor, to have a liver in good health to be able to properly purify the toxic components. This is a similar case to the one faced by the kidneys with the increase in urea levels, therefore, in case of having this type of illness, the use of a high protein diet should be reviewed and monitored with extreme caution to avoid possible more serious damages.
Due to the increase in the activity of these organs, it is also possible to derive in a dehydration regime due to the necessary continuous purification, a situation that can be neutralized by ingesting sufficient amounts of liquid.Keeping within the maximum range of 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of weight, is a recommended measure to have a process without too many risks, in any case the supervision of a nutritionist will be important, but even more prominent will be the results you can get, considering the importance of protein-rich foods as a vital source for energy, growth and health in general.