Protein is a nutrient your body needs in order to maintain its structures, including muscles, bones, skin, and hair. Protein also is a key element in many compounds that your body needs to function properly. When you don’t get enough high-protein foods, many damaging effects can occur, such as loss
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The ideal diet contains a mix of nutrients: carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, fiber, healthy fats, and protein. You need to eat enough protein each day, because this nutrient forms the foundation of your muscles, bones, cartilage, skin, and blood. Protein also provides your body with the calories you need to stay active. High protein foods keep you feeling full longer than high carbohydrate foods. They prevent the blood sugar spikes that lead to food splurges, and contribute to weight gain.
The USDA’s ChooseMyPlate guideline recommends that women eat 5 to 5 Ω ounces of protein foods, and men eat 5 Ω to 6 Ω ounces daily. If you’re an athlete who is looking to build muscle, you may need to increase your protein intake even more.
Check with your doctor to find out how much protein is appropriate for you. Meat, chicken, turkey, fish, beans, peas, eggs, soy, nuts, and seeds are all examples of high protein foods. You can also get protein in dairy foods such as Greek yogurt, milk, and cottage cheese. A small chicken breast, one can of tuna, 3 ounces of trout, one egg, or 12 almonds is equal to one ounce of protein.
Not all high protein foods are equally good for you. The USDA recommends choosing low-fat or lean protein sources, such as skinless chicken, fish, or tofu. Protein sources like steak, hamburger, pork, or duck tend to be higher in fat and calories. Processed meats are high protein foods, but they are also very high in fat, as well as in sodium and other unhealthy additives. Bacon, sausage, ham, hot dogs, canned meat, and some lunch meats have been linked to an increased risk for cancer, and should therefore be avoided or at least eaten in very limited quantities.
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