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High Protein Foods Essential for Weight Loss

High protein food is a key component of your daily diet, and is invaluable in a weight loss or muscle building program – so what are the best healthy, protein rich foods to eat?

And why is protein so important to weight loss?

Protein, whether from animal or vegetable sources is the key building block of your body.

Your lean tissue – your muscles and connective tissues – are comprised of protein and it’s muscle tissue that’s responsible for most of the calories your body burns each day.

In summary, protein:

  • Helps to control hunger
  • Increases your metabolic rate
  • Helps to build muscle
  • Spares lean tissue when dieting
  • Helps to control blood sugar levels and counters the effects of insulin
  • Stimulates the production of ‘feel good’ hormones
  • Protects and repairs skin – you never know, it may even help you to look younger!
  • If you’d like more information on the benefits of high protein food in your diet, then check out our article on foods that promote weight loss.

    OK, so protein is a good thing to include in your diet – but what are good sources of protein?

    High Protein Foods for Weight Loss

    The list of high protein food suggestions below includes high quality sources containing the optimum mix of the amino acids your body needs for optimal growth, repair and health.

    Chicken, Turkey, Lean Red Meat and Seafood

    Animal sources of protein are complete, in that they contain the full range of amino acids. But try not to eat more than 80 grams of animal protein a day as there’s good evidence to link a diet high in animal protein and various gastro-intestinal cancers.

  • 1 chicken breast – 25g protein, 85g/3oz, 140 cals
  • Turkey breast – 25g protein, 85g/3oz, 135 cals
  • Lean red meat – 25g protein, 85g/3oz, 145-160 cals
  • Salmon, sea bass, cod, etc – 25-31g protein, 112g/4oz, 130-170 cals
  • Tinned tuna (in water/brine) – 27g protein, 112g/4oz, 145 cals
  • Shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster, etc) – 22-24g protein, 112g/4oz, 120 cals
  • Dairy

    Dairy products can be high in fat, particularly saturated fat so go easy on foods like cheese and full fat milk.

  • Egg whites – 25g protein, 7 whites, 115 cals
  • Non-fat cottage cheese – 28g protein, 1 cup, 140 cals
  • Low fat yoghurt – 20g protein, 400ml/14floz, 220 cals
  • Skimmed/non-fat milk – 20g protein, 600mls/21floz, 200 cals
  • Vegetables

    If you’re a vegetarian or choose vegetable sources in your diet, then you’ll need to eat soy products as soy is the only vegetable source with a full complement of amino acids and/or combine 2 servings each of nuts, cereals/grains and beans/pulses at each meal to get all the amino acids your body needs.

  • Tofu – 20g protein, 1/2 cup, 180 cals
  • Plain soy protein powder – 20-25g protein, 28g/1oz, 110 cals
  • Soy burgers – 25g protein, 2 patties, 160 cals
  • Soya milk (sweetened) – 21g protein, 600mls/21floz, 255 cals
  • Soy meal replacement shake mix with soya milk – 20-25g protein, 1 serving shake mix and 1 cup soya milk, 180-200 cals
  • Cooked beans – 7g protein, 1/2 cup, 130 cals
  • Lentils – 9g protein, 1/2 cup, 115 cals
  • Garden peas – 4g protein, 1/2 cup, 70 cals
  • And how much protein should you eat each day?

    To a large extent that depends on your body shape, height, weight – a large man will need more than a small woman.

    Ideally, 50 grams per day is the minimum for someone aiming to lose weight. The average woman should eat around 70-100 grams and the average man 110-150 grams a day. This means that about 30% of your daily calorie requirements will come from protein.

    If you’re not sure you’re eating enough high protein food each day, then as a guide, if you feel hungry an hour or two after a meal try adding a little extra protein to your meals.

    Why not take a look at our free weight loss menus for ideas as to how to incorporate more high protein food in your diet?

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