Top 10 High Protein Foods List for Weight Loss / Gain & Muscle Building

high protein foods for muscle building

Top 10 High Protein Foods List for Weight Loss / Gain & Muscle Building

Proteins are the building blocks of our cells. They are also the fuel that the body uses to function. If we do not consume the required amount of protein, our body will grow weak, and a number of problems will set in. All proteins are not equal, some high protein foods need a special mention. In this article, you will find the top 10 High Protein Foods List for Weight Management & Muscle Building.
Unless you have a medical problem that needs otherwise, it is always good to keep your diet rich in protein. A high-protein diet is also a must if you are looking for weight loss or weight gain (surprised) or build muscles.

Very high protein foods for weight gain

High Protein Animal Foods


But what are the foods that you can consume to make sure you are getting adequate protein? Let us find out look at some common high protein foods for muscle building and weight management.

Why do you need protein?

Proteins are essential components of our cells and are regarded as the building blocks of body tissue. Proteins are also used by our bodies as fuel for energy. They can be defined as amino acids linked by peptide bonds.
During digestion, protein is broken down into smaller polypeptide chains, which are absorbed easily by our bodies. Human beings need 9 essential amino acids from their food- phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine. These are not bio-synthesised by the body itself. (1)

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All you need to know about Proteins

high protein foods list for weight lossWhy is a high protein diet good?

If you consult a dietician or look at any guidelines issued by health authorities, you will find that they all say that a protein-rich diet is ideal for maintaining your health and losing weight.
Doctors estimate that ideally, you should eat 0.8 gm protein for every kg of your body weight every day. Lack of proper amount of dietary protein may lead to weakness, loss of weight and muscle mass, vascular dysfunction, lowered immunity and anaemia.(2)
Proteins give you as much energy as carbohydrates, but they do not add to your girth. Proteins and healthy fats are essential for every person and are a must if you aim for weight loss. This is the reason athletes and bodybuilders stick to high protein diets. (3)
Proteins help you build muscle mass and increase your immunity. A healthy protein intake gives you a feeling of fullness which reduces snacking. Moreover, protein intake is essential if you have internal infections or serious wounds to heal. (4)

Animal proteins vs plant proteins

Best high protein foods for bodybuilding

Animal Protein


Depending on your choice, you can opt for some options for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources of protein. However, there are pros and cons associated with both.

  1. Plant proteins are considered “healthier”, as they do not contain unhealthy fats like beef or pork. But plant proteins are also incomplete- where animal protein contains all essential amino acids, plant proteins usually lack one. (5)
  2. Some animal protein, especially fishes, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are considered good facts, and evidence exists that they can be helpful in preventing sudden death or heart failure in people with a history of cardiovascular diseases. (6) While there are some plant sources which contain omega 3 fatty acids- they also contain a high amount of unhealthy fats. (7)
  3. There is no reliable plant protein that contains vitamin B12, which is a crucial vitamin for our bodies. Vitamin B12 helps in fatty acid and amino acid metabolism, DNA synthesis, maturation of red blood cells and functioning of the nervous system. Non-vegetarians can easily get vitamin B12 from animal proteins. (8)

Hence, it is essential that you have a well-balanced diet. If you are strictly vegetarian or vegan, you must eat different types of plant foods to make sure you get all the proteins you need. Consult a doctor if you need supplements.

The Top 10 High Protein Foods list

If you want to get all the protein you need, it is important that we know what to eat. Here are some great protein-rich foods that you can include in your diet:

1 Lean meat and poultry meat

high protein foods for weight loss

Poltry a Great Option for High Protein Food


When it comes to protein, there is no substitute for lean meat. “Lean” meat is meat without unhealthy fats. This is usually done by removing the skin and the underlying adipose tissues, which contain a lot of fats.
Lean meat like lean beef or mutton and lean poultry meat like chicken, pheasant or turkey are identical in nutritional components. Go for cuts like chicken breasts or sirloin steak in beef. (9)

2 Fish

Fishes are a great source of protein and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Freshwater fishes usually contain less omega 3 fatty acids, as these eat mostly vegetarian foods. Wild fishes are richer in nutrients than farmed fishes.
However, due to an increase in water pollution, many fishes are now contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins. It is better to buy from trusted vendors and suppliers who catch from clean waters. (7)

3 Eggs

Earlier, government PSAs on eating two eggs every day would run on every TV channel. Eggs are a healthy source of proteins, with the egg yolk being totally fat-free. Eggs are also rich in minerals and vitamins (except vitamin C). (10)

4 Walnuts and other tree nuts

Walnuts are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts also contain a high amount of fibre, which is good for the heart and help reduce weight. (11)

5 Pulses and lentils

Lentils - high protein foods veg indian

Pulses & Lentils – High Protein Food for Vegetarians


At one time, pulses were called “poor man’s meat”, because of their high protein content. In India, lentils and legumes are the most common source of vegetarian protein, as they are a staple part of our diet. Every Indian consumes at least a cup of cooked lentils or pulses every day.
Lentils and pulses are a rich source of essential and non-essential amino acids but are low in sodium. This makes them an ideal for people suffering from obesity and cardiovascular diseases. You can also get your pulses germinated before eating them. (12)

6 Green peas, beans and kidney beans

Peas natural high protein foods

Green Peas Natural High Protein Food


All legumes are packed with proteins. Green peas and beans are fairly common vegetables in India. Rajma or kidney beans are also a cheap and popular source of protein. Peas are considered a winter delicacy and can be eaten both raw and cooked.
Germinated peas and bean seeds are an excellent source of proteins and dietary fibres. Studies suggest that green peas and beans can actually induce a greater feeling of fullness than meat. Hence, if you want to lose weight and stop yourself from snacking, a cup of cooked beans or green peas during meals is a tasty solution. (13)

7 Soya beans and soy milk

Soya is one of the richest sources of proteins in the plant world. It is also a great source of dietary fibre. For those who are lactose intolerant or follow a vegan diet, soy milk is a great substitute to dairy milk. (14)

8 Milk and dairy products

Milk is a great source of protein and calcium. For infants, milk is the best protein option. Women, especially, are vulnerable to calcium deficiencies and osteoporosis at all ages. If you cannot have milk, go for curd, yoghurt or cottage cheese. Greek yoghurt is fat-free. In India, cottage cheese or paneer is the go-to vegetarian alternative for meat. (15)

9 Peanut butter

Nuts are an excellent source of protein, and peanut is no exception. Peanut is widely available in India and is a staple in our diets. Peanuts are rich in proteins, fibres, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. It contains many compounds that stop the absorption of cholesterol from food, so it is great for people suffering from heart conditions.
Studies show that eating peanut butter may also reduce the chances of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. However, whole nuts contain fiber which are lost when they are made into butter or oil.(16)

10 Quinoa

Quinoa high protein foods veg indian

Quinoa High Protein Food for Vegetarians


Quinoa is a great alternative to rice. It is an excellent source of proteins- containing more essential amino acids than rice and wheat. It is rich in dietary fibres, so eating quinoa will keep you fuller than your other staples.
Quinoa is also gluten-free, so it is a great option for vegans and those with the gluten allergy. The only downside is that quinoa is not grown in India, hence it is a bit expensive. (17)

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11 Chia seeds

Chia is regarded as a wonder food. While not native to India, they are fast gaining traction as a great source of vegetarian protein. Chia seeds are rich in proteins and fibres and great for weight management.
They are also good for reducing blood sugar levels and are recommended for diabetics. Chia seeds can absorb up to 10-12 times their weight in water, which makes it heavier. Hence, if you eat chia seeds soaked in water or any fluid, you will feel fuller for a long time and not indulge in snacking.  (18)

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In Conclusion

Make sure that you get your food fresh and avoid processed proteins like sausages or bacon which are high in fat, salts and preservatives. Sometimes, the body needs specifically animal proteins.
In some cases, doctors may advice you to stay off one particular food group entirely. Be sure to check yourself for allergies. Many people are lactose intolerant or are allergic to nuts. In cases like these, consumption of dairy products or nuts may cause severe reactions.
If you have kidney problems, talk to your doctor about the amount and type of protein you can have. When kidneys are infected or there is a loss of kidney function, they may leak proteins- which is a dangerous condition.
It is important that we maintain our daily intake of protein if we want to stay healthy and lose weight. However, it is always best to talk to your doctor to know about your specific requirements.

FAQs on The Ultimate High protein foods List

Q1. Why do I need protein?

Proteins are essential components of our cells and are regarded as the building blocks of body tissue. Proteins are also used by our bodies as fuel for energy. Human beings need 9 essential amino acids from their food that the body cannot synthesize. (1)

Q2. How much protein should I take?

Doctors estimate that ideally, you should eat 0.8 gm protein for every kg of your body weight every day. Lack of proper amount of dietary protein may lead to weakness, loss of weight and muscle mass, vascular dysfunction, lowered immunity and anaemia.(2)

Q3. Does protein intake help in weight loss?

Proteins give you as much energy as carbohydrates, but they do not add to your girth. Proteins and healthy fats are essential for every person and are a must if you aim for weight loss. This is the reason athletes and bodybuilders stick to high protein diets. (3)

Q4. What is the difference between plant and animal proteins?

  1. Plant proteins are considered “healthier”, as they do not contain unhealthy fats like beef or pork. But plant proteins are also incomplete- where animal protein contains all essential amino acids, plant proteins usually lack one. (5)
  2. Some animal protein, especially fishes, are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. These are considered good facts, and evidence exists that they can be helpful in preventing sudden death or heart failure in people with a history of cardiovascular diseases. (6) While there are some plant sources which contain omega 3 fatty acids- they also contain a high amount of unhealthy fats. (7)
  3. There is no reliable plant protein that contains vitamin B12, which is a crucial vitamin for our bodies. Vitamin B12 helps in fatty acid and amino acid metabolism, DNA synthesis, maturation of red blood cells and functioning of the nervous system. Non-vegetarians can easily get vitamin B12 from animal proteins. (8)

Q5. What are the best high protein foods?

These are the ultimate high protein foods:

  1. Lean meat and poultry meat
  2. Fishes
  3. Eggs
  4. Milk and dairy products
  5. Soya bean and soy milk
  6. Walnuts and other tree nuts
  7. Green peas, beans and kidney beans
  8. Lentils and pulses
  9. Chia seeds
  10. Peanut butter
  11. Quinoa

References

  1. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids Institute of Medicine
  2. Dietary protein intake and human health NCBI
  3. Role of nutrition in performance enhancement and post-exercise recovery NCBI
  4. The importance of patients’ nutritional status in wound healing. NCBI
  5. Protein Harvard Health
  6. Long-term effect of high dose omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for secondary prevention of cardiovascular outcomes: A meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled trials [corrected] NCBI
  7.  The Facts on Omega-3 Fatty Acids WebMD
  8. Vitamin B12-Containing Plant Food Sources for Vegetarians NCBI
  9. Meat consumption role of meat in the diets FAO
  10. Food and Egg Nutrition NECC
  11. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health NCBI
  12. Polyphenol-Rich Lentils and Their Health Promoting Effects NCBI
  13. Meals based on vegetable protein sources (beans and peas) are more satiating than meals based on animal protein sources (veal and pork) – a randomized cross-over meal test study NCBI
  14. Does soy reduce cholesterol? Mayo Clinic
  15. Diary and Diary Alternatives NHS
  16. Tree nut, peanut, and peanut butter intake and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer: The Netherlands Cohort Study NCBI
  17. Quinoa: Nutritional, functional, and antinutritional aspects NCBI
  18. Chia Seed Shows Good Protein Quality, Hypoglycemic Effect and Improves the Lipid Profile and Liver and Intestinal Morphology of Wistar Rats NCBI

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