Protein is an important part of a well-balanced, healthy diet. Protein helps the body build and repair tissues. If you are doing any form of exercise, whether it be weight lifting or light jogging, you need to make sure your protein intake is high as it helps build and repair the body’s muscles. If you are dieting to lose weight, eating meals that are rich in protein is an excellent way to avoid overeating and snacking through the day, as protein makes the body feel fuller for longer.
Chicken and Lean Meats
Typically most meats are a good source of protein, but lean meats like chicken, turkey and some cuts of pork are much more diet-friendly than the likes of fatty bacon, burgers and sausages. Lean meats provide around 30g of protein per 100g with very little fat. Chicken is a hugely versatile meat and can be used in everything from stir fries to healthy roast dinners. Turkey mince is an excellent substitute for beef mince, and it is a good way to cook healthy bolognese and chilli.
Fish are an excellent source of protein. Tuna is not only easily added to diet friendly meals like pastas and salads, it is also one of the meats that is highest in protein content. A drained 100g tin of tuna has around 27g of protein, and it also contains healthy fats like Omega-3, which studies have shown boosts muscle growth and accelerates fat loss. Try to avoid tins of tuna, which contain calorie high sunflower oil and opt for spring water instead.
Soya Beans and Lentils
Vegetables are often overlooked as a source of protein, but beans, lentils and pulses are chock full of the stuff. Most beans have around 7-10g of protein per cooked half cup. Soya beans are especially high in content, with 14g per half cup. They are cheap, easily added to almost any type of meal, and vegan friendly.
Cheese is an excellent source of protein and contains calcium and Vitamin D, too. However, some cheeses, like cheddar and blue cheese, are loaded with saturated fats and high calories. Cottage cheese is a great low-fat alternative, with one cup providing around 26g of protein. Some flavoured cottage cheeses containing fruit can be high in sugars and salts, as well as being more expensive, so buy plain tubs and add your own flavours.
Creamy, thick and bursting with flavour, Greek yoghurt does not seem like the type of food fit for a diet. However, it is low-fat, low in calories and high in protein. Incredibly versatile, Greek yoghurt can be added to smoothies, cooking sauces or just enjoyed with some fruit as a healthy, tasty dessert.
Ideal for breakfasts, main meals or just as a quick snack, one egg contains around 6g of protein, and they are packed with nutrients. Experienced cooks can make fritatas and omelettes packed with healthy vegetables, but dieters lacking in kitchen skills can easily make some hard-boiled eggs for a fridge snack. Eggs can even be part of a healthy, protein rich fry-up when cooked with some turkey bacon and low-fat sausages.
Protein can be found in many different types of food, so dieters can enjoy a variety of tasty meals. Food labels and nutritional information should always be checked, however, as some protein-rich foods, particularly meats and cheeses, can be high in calories and saturated fat.