Protein is an essential part of your diet with an extraordinary amount of benefits. The Institute of Medicine says that your protein intake should be about 10-35% of your total calories. You may find yourself in the upper part of this range if you’re looking to:

  • increase athletic performance
  • heal quickly after injury or surgery of body tissue
  • prevent the loss of lean body mass as you get older to support bone health

Protein foods contain a variety of important vitamins – B vitamins (e.g., niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and riboflavin), selenium, choline, phosphorus, zinc, copper, vitamin D, and vitamin E. This is why, no matter how much protein your body requires, it is important to get it from a variety of sources – not just meat and seafood. Below is a list of 5 other protein foods that you can begin integrating into your diet:

1. Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein and also have good-for-you fats. Because of the fat they consist of, their calorie count can be quite high – It’s important to enjoy nuts and seeds in moderation. A cupped handful is recommended as a portioned snack. Nuts and seeds can also be added to yogurt and fruit for a delicious, balanced breakfast.

Almonds, pistachios, and peanuts have the most amount of protein per serving in the nuts categories, while pumpkin seeds triumph over both categories with 9.3g protein per serving.


2. Legumes

Bean, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more you…gain digestive wellness and muscle mass! Beans are a low-fat source of protein with a heavy dose of fiber. When cooking with canned beans, be sure to rinse them under water to remove the extra sodium used for preservation.

3. Soy Products

Soy doesn’t just mean tofu. Edamame, soynuts, and soymilk are other sources of soy protein. Many companies have also started to add soy protein to veggie burgers, and to fortify cereals and pastas, in an attempt to satisfy vegetarian/vegan consumers. Soy is an excellent source of copper, manganese, and iron.

 

4. Eggs

One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. For years, there was a misconception that whole eggs were bad for you – this has to do with its 213mg cholesterol. However, the new and improved Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages moderate consumption of nutrient-dense eggs after scientists discovered that saturated fat – not cholesterol – plays the bigger role against heart health.

5. Dairy Products

All milk, including lactose-free and lactose-reduced, contain about 8-10 grams of protein per cup. Yogurt, frozen yogurt, dairy desserts, and cheeses are also great sources of protein. Most choices should be fat-free or low-fat, however. Cream, sour cream, and cream cheese are not included in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 dairy group due to their low calcium content.

Looking to maximize your athletic performance by getting the most out of your diet? Check out her Sports Nutrition program and find out how she can work with you to make nutrition a part of your athletic training. Call us at 301-474-2499 to set up your appointment!

Blog updated December 2019.

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