Protein is the number one most important nutrient for a healthy diet. It’s the building block for growth and essential for building and maintaining muscle. I tell all my clients to remember the 3 Ps–perpetually prioritize protein. Make sure you include protein in every meal and every snack. It’s that important!
It’s also satiating, meaning you will feel full longer when you eat protein. So, if you’re looking to lose weight, protein is your best friend! It’s always surprising to me that so many people don’t eat enough protein. But, if you stop and think about it, most of the readily available foods are higher in carbs and fats than they are in protein. Still, there are easy ways to make sure you get enough in your daily diet. Here are my top 5 healthy protein ideas:
- Meat – I eat a variety of meat each week, including chicken, beef, turkey, pork, and sausage. I try to choose organic, free-range, or grass fed, if possible. You only need a serving that is roughly the size of your fist. Probably the most budget friendly of all these choices is ground beef or chicken sold in a family pack.
- Fish – Seafood is a great way to meet your protein goals, and it also contains many other micronutrients and healthy fats that we need. My favorite choices are salmon, shrimp, and white fish, such as tilapia. Tuna is also great, especially for lunch!
- Dairy – If you can tolerate dairy, it is a wonderful complete protein. Whole milk, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese are all good choices.
- Eggs – Right now, most people are probably going easy on the eggs, given how expensive they are! But, they are a great protein source. I recommend eating the whole egg to maximize the benefits of the micronutrients. Remember that eggs are not high in protein so you need two or three to achieve a good amount of protein in one meal.
- Beans – Chick peas, black beans, and lentils are great protein sources, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Pair them with rice and you have a complete protein!
BONUS: I recommend that you always have a healthy whey protein on hand (vegan protein, if you’re so inclined). This helps you “top off” your macros at the end of the day, if you find you’re short. I use powder in shakes and sometimes just drink it blended with water after a hard workout.