Proteins are the building blocks of our cells. It is 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.
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)
Why 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 anemia.(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
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.
- 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)
- Some animal protein, especially fishes, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are considered good fats, 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)
- 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.
Here is a list of the best vegetarian sources of protein.
|Protein Source||Protein (per 100 gms)|
|Pistachio nuts||20 gms|
|Chia Seeds||17 gms|
|Pine nuts||14 gms|
|Cottage Cheese (Paneer)||11 gms|
|Green Peas||5 gms|
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: best Protein Food for Bodybuilding
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: best protein food for muscle gain
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 fish 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)
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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: best protein foods for vegetarians
Walnuts are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts also contain a high amount of fiber, which is good for the heart and help reduce weight. (11)
5 Pulses and lentils
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
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: best protein food veg
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. Chia seeds – the superfood – is a great option as a significant calcium source for those who cannot tolerate dairy. Chai seeds have more calcium than milk! (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, fibers, 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: best protein food in india
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)
11 Chia seeds: best protein food in the world
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 fibers 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 27 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)
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
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)
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 anemia.(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)
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)
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)
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)
These are the ultimate high protein foods:
1 Lean meat and poultry meat
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
यहाँ सबसे अच्छा उच्च प्रोटीन शाकाहारी खाद्य पदार्थ सूची है:
3 चना दाल
5 भांग के बीज
6 हरी मटर
10 चिया सीड्स
11 अंकुरित अनाज
12 सोया दूध
14 सूखा मेवा जैसै
15 प्रोटीन युक्त फल जैसे अमरूद, शहतूत, ब्लैकबेरी, केले।
16 प्रोटीन युक्त सब्जियाँ जैसे ब्रोकोली, पालक, शतावरी, आटिचोक, आलू, शकरकंद, ब्रसेल्स स्प्राउट्स
Here is the best high protein vegetarian foods list:
6 Green Peas
10 Chia Seeds
11 Sprouted Grains
12 Soy Milk
15 Protein-Rich Fruits such as Guava, Mulberries, Blackberries, Bananas.
16 Protein-Rich Vegetables such as Broccoli, Spinach, Asparagus, Artichokes, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Brussels sprouts
If you are vegetarian and wants to build your muscles, you need not worry. As per a study, there is no difference in measures of strength or endurance in the levels of lean body mass of a meat-eating athlete compared to a vegetarian athlete. If you plan well it is possible to build muscles on plant protein. However, you need to choose your protein wisely and need to know what to eat and how much.
Here are a few thumb rules that you should remember:
1. You should consume approximately 1.5 grams of protein for every kilogram you weigh (that’s 120 grams for an 80 kg men).
2. Spread your protein intake throughout the day (roughly 20 to 35 grams per meal) if you’re looking for muscle buildup.
3. Ensure a steady supply of the essential amino acid leucine. Leucine is the primary trigger to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. It recommended having at least 2-3 meals/day containing 2.5 to 3.0 grams of leucine and about 8 to 10 grams total for the day.
Below is the list of high protein vegetarian foods for muscle building along with daily consumption to help you achieve your goal:
1 Almonds (2 Tbsp)
2 Eggs (1 whole)
3 Black beans (1 cup cooked)
4 Cottage cheese, 2% (1/2 cup)
5 Oats (1/2 cup dry)
6 Greek yogurt, low fat (1 cup)
7 Green peas (1/2 cup frozen)
8 Lentils (1/2 cup cooked)
9 Pumpkin seeds (2 Tbsp)
10 Quinoa (1/3 cup dry)
11Ricotta cheese, part-skim (1/2 cup)
12 Soy nuts (2 Tbsp)
13 Tempeh (3 oz)
14 Whey protein powder (1 scoop)
Here is the list of foods that contain protein and are healthy.
1 Lean meat and poultry meat
4 Walnuts and other tree nuts
5 Pulses and lentils
6 Green peas, beans and kidney beans
7 Soya beans and soy milk
8 Milk and dairy products
9 Peanut butter
14 Chia Seeds
15 Sprouted Grains
16 Soy Milk
19 Protein-Rich Fruits such as Guava, Mulberries, Blackberries, Bananas.
20 Protein-Rich Vegetables such as Broccoli, Spinach, Asparagus, Artichokes, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Brussels sprouts
- Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids Institute of Medicine
- Dietary protein intake and human health NCBI
- Role of nutrition in performance enhancement and post-exercise recovery NCBI
- The importance of patients’ nutritional status in wound healing. NCBI
- Protein Harvard Health
- 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
- The Facts on Omega-3 Fatty Acids WebMD
- Vitamin B12-Containing Plant Food Sources for Vegetarians NCBI
- Meat consumption role of meat in the diets FAO
- Food and Egg Nutrition NECC
- Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health NCBI
- Polyphenol-Rich Lentils and Their Health Promoting Effects NCBI
- 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
- Does soy reduce cholesterol? Mayo Clinic
- Diary and Diary Alternatives NHS
- Tree nut, peanut, and peanut butter intake and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer: The Netherlands Cohort Study NCBI
- Quinoa: Nutritional, functional, and antinutritional aspects NCBI
- Chia Seed Shows Good Protein Quality, Hypoglycemic Effect and Improves the Lipid Profile and Liver and Intestinal Morphology of Wistar Rats NCBI