6 foods that are full of Protein that you’ll want to eat :It’s important to eat foods with protein, but it can be hard to make sure you’re getting enough. These quick, high-protein meals give you options for lunch and dinner that are both tasty and will fill you up.
But before we talk about some tasty high-protein foods, let’s take a step back and talk about what protein is and what it does for our bodies. First of all, protein is one of the three macronutrients that our bodies need in large amounts. The other two are fat and carbs. Why? Protein is a building block in our bodies, which means it helps our cells grow and fix themselves.
This is important for all of us, but especially for people who work out, because working out causes tiny tears in muscles, which protein helps fix so muscles can grow back stronger. Eating protein also makes us feel full and happy all day long.
How much protein should you eat each day? Well, as SELF has said before, that number depends on things like age, sex, total calories eaten, and exercise level. But 0.8 grammes of protein per kilogramme of body weight is a good starting point for the daily amount of protein that is suggested. For someone who weighs 150 pounds, that’s about 54 grammes of protein a day.
Even though it’s tempting to get all the protein you need in one big protein-packed meal, experts say it’s better to eat protein throughout the day rather than all at once. (Keeping snacks high in protein at the ready is a great way to make this a reality, as is brushing up on some high-protein breakfast options.) The main reason for this is that eating high-protein foods with each meal helps keep your energy levels steady, so you’re less likely to feel tired at 3 p.m. or right after you wake up. Also, SELF says that if you eat a range of protein-rich foods, you’ll get other important vitamins and nutrients, like fatty acids from seafood or fibre from beans, at the same time.
Now that we know how important protein is, let’s talk about some tasty dinners and lunches that are full of this macronutrient. These 38 high-protein lunch and dinner ideas cover a wide range of tastes, eating schedules, and eating habits. There are choices for vegans and vegetarians that won’t leave you wanting, meaty meals that can be made all in one pan, and fresh, tasty salads for days when it’s too hot to turn on the oven. You can use these ideas whether you’re trying to eat a high-protein diet to reach your exercise goals or just want to feel your best every day.
6 foods that are full of Protein that you’ll want to eat
You don’t have to grind your own nuts to make sure your sandwich spread is healthy and good for you. There are a lot of great ready-made options out there. Just look at the list of ingredients on your favourite nut spread to make sure that nuts are the main ingredient. (A pinch of salt is fine, but other additives, especially sugars or oils, should be minimal.)
You also have more nuts to choose from than ever before. Creamy or chunky, these spreads aren’t just for kids anymore, and they come in a lot more flavours than peanut. Almond and cashew butters are now on store shelves, along with the old standby, peanut butter.
The calories in a two-tablespoon amount of nut butter range from 160 to 200, but the health benefits can make it worth it. Nuts and nut butters are full of healthy unsaturated fats. These fats help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduce inflammation, which can help avoid heart disease. They also have fibre and potassium, which are both good for your heart.
Maybe that’s why a study of almost 120,000 men and women over 30 years found that those who ate about one ounce of nuts a day were 29% less likely to die from heart disease than those who didn’t. And it’s so handy to have all that good stuff in a jar that you can spread!
How to use them: You can always spread a spoonful on toast or bread or put a dollop on apple pieces. But there are other ways to think creatively. Blending a tablespoon or two into your smoothie is another great way to add protein, taste, and, if it’s crunchy, texture to your breakfast drink. And a great dip for crudités is made by mixing a couple of spoonfuls of peanut or almond butter with warm water and Sriracha.
Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and veggies that have been frozen save a lot of time. They make quick sides, go well in stir-fries, and give drinks, soups, and salads a boost of vitamins and minerals. Since they are frozen when they are at their freshest, they are sometimes healthier than the fresh ones that have been sitting in the cooler for days (or weeks).
The only thing that should be on the list of ingredients for boxed frozen fruit or vegetables is the fruit or vegetable itself. If you see salt, sugar, syrups, or flavourings that have been added, put them back. The best is pure. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a box or a bag, but make sure the fruit or veggies aren’t all frozen together. That means it may have been warmed and frozen again, which means it may have lost some important nutrients in the process.
Frozen french fries are a good frozen vegetable to keep on hand. A helping of regular or sweet potato frozen fries gives you about 10% of your daily potassium needs. Potassium is a mineral that helps keep your blood pressure in check. Choose ones made with unsaturated fats like canola, sunflower, or safflower oil, and bake or air fry them to keep your heart healthy.
Wheat pasta has to move over. We still love you, but the pasta row is full of lentil, black bean and chickpea pasta that isn’t made from wheat. For people who can’t eat wheat, these pastas are a gift. For the rest of us, they give us more choices when it comes to better-for-you pasta. Whole-wheat pasta is still a healthy choice, but bean-based pasta has twice as much protein and about 8 grammes more fibre per 2-ounce dose. You can find your favourite name by starting with these:
You can also use cold or refrigerated ravioli instead of dried pasta. “Ready-made ravioli is a quick and easy way to get restaurant-quality results with a lot more control over sodium and calories,” says Patricia Bannan, M.S., RDN, a dietitian in Los Angeles and the author of Eat Right When Time Is Tight. You can also make as much or as little ravioli as you want based on how many people you are feeding. It cooks very quickly. Add vegetables like spinach, zucchini and fresh tomatoes, and top with store-bought marinara or pesto sauce to make a full meal. (look for low-sodium options with minimal or no added sugar).
Precooked Packaged Grains
A 2016 study in the British Medical Journal found that eating three servings of whole grains per day instead of none may cut the chance of heart disease and stroke by about 20% and 12%, respectively. But boiling them from a dry state takes time, and it’s hard to make just the right amount for one or two people without having leftovers, which leads to big amounts or a full garbage can. Enter grains like farro, quinoa, and others that are already cooked and can be ready in a few minutes.
You can find them in bowls or bags that can be kept on the shelf and heated in the microwave, or you can buy them frozen. Instead of buying ones that have been seasoned with salt, it’s best to buy ones that don’t have any added salt.
What to do with them: Make your own power bowl by: Stir-fried vegetables and cooked chicken go well with carbs. (You can also look at the study of frozen grain bowls in Consumer Reports.) For a healthy meal, take some out of the package and microwave it in a bowl with some fruit, cinnamon, and milk. Or, add grains to a salad or soup to make it heartier.
This cheap whole grain is a great source of soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. According to the Whole Grains Council, oats also have more energy and less sugar than most other whole grains. But the flavoured ones usually have a lot of sugar, so stick with plain muesli and use these healthy hacks to add flavour instead.
Dietitian Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, who lives in Los Angeles and wrote Eat Right When Time is Tight and is a counsellor for the Blueberry Council, says that blueberries are a staple in her home. “Blueberries are a quick and healthy food that can be added to any kind of muesli, whether they are fresh or frozen.”
Julie Harrington, RD, a cooking nutritionist at RDelicious Kitchen in Morristown, NJ, suggests mixing canned pumpkin puree and nuts into plain instant oatmeal. She says, “Pumpkin is full of fibre and vitamins A and C, and nuts will give you more fibre and healthy fats to help you feel full.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, who made BetterThanDieting.com and wrote Read It Before You Eat It, says that almond butter mixed into oatmeal is a simple way to make it better. “Adding protein and fat to carbs like oatmeal helps you feel full longer and keeps your blood sugar levels steady,” she says.
By adding a few other easy-to-find foods to oatmeal, you can turn this traditional breakfast into a tasty meal. Try cooking it in chicken stock with less salt and adding frozen peas. A dash of Parmesan cheese gives it more flavour and calcium, which is good for your bones.
I always have hummus on hand, so I can spread it on bread or use it as a dip. Hummus, which is made from beans, is a good choice on its own. It can make your food better by giving you protein, fiber, B vitamins, and healthy fats, among other things. Still, you can cut up your hummus or mix it with other foods to make your meal healthier.