Your body needs protein every single day to be able to function properly, no matter how active you are! Sometimes it can be a little bit confusing to know where to get that protein though, which is why I’ve put this blog together to help you choose the best sources of protein for you!
What is protein?
Protein is a macronutrient that is essential for a number of processes within the body, including the building and repairing of muscle.
Before I explain what some naturally good sources of protein are, it’s important to understand that different protein sources exist.
Types of protein
There are two kinds of protein: complete proteins and incomplete proteins.
Complete proteins are called ‘complete’ proteins because they contain all nine essential amino acids that your body needs to function but can’t create on its own.
Essential amino acids in protein can only come from food (unlike non-essential amino acids, which your body can produce by itself). These acids help your body to digest food and to build, maintain and repair body tissue. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you get it from the foods you eat!
Often when people are trying to build muscle or lose fat, they make sure they eat a lot of this type of protein because it helps to do this. Complete proteins are often found in meat and dairy products.
Incomplete proteins are those proteins that do not contain all essential amino acids. Plant-based foods are often incomplete proteins; however, by eating the right combination of plant-based food, it can be easy to consume all the essential amino acids that your body requires.
It’s important to eat a variety of complete and incomplete proteins, which I will discuss below.
Best sources of protein
I prefer to receive my protein from food sources, rather than powders — but this is my own personal preference. If you want to include protein powder in your diet, try to do your research and learn about the different types of protein powders that exist, so you can find one that suits your needs.
Keep in mind that while processed protein sources can be an easy alternative, the best sources of protein come in the form of natural foods that provide your body with other important nutrients too.
Here are some high-protein foods that I find to be the best sources of protein:
Eggs are one of the best sources of protein because they are so easy to incorporate into a variety of meals. They are a staple of mine either at breakfast or lunch because they help to keep me full and energised throughout the day.
They may also help to minimise your cravings for sweets and high-fat foods and can keep fluctuating blood sugar levels at bay.
For an easy breakfast or lunch, toast some rye bread and top with avocado, two poached eggs, a drizzle of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Greek yoghurt is another really good source of protein that naturally contains all nine essential amino acids. It can also be great for your health because it contains probiotics. Probiotics are ‘good bacteria’ that can help to keep your digestive system healthy and balanced.
Enjoy some Greek yoghurt with berries or banana for a great post-workout snack. You can also use Greek yoghurt to make smoothies extra filling.
This one probably comes as no surprise to many of you, as chicken is a popular meat protein choice for many meals and one of the best sources of protein that you can have. Try my almond baked chicken breast recipe if you don’t believe me!
One of the best things about eating chicken as a source of protein is that it has a high thermogenic effect. This means you can burn about 30% of the calories that it contains simply by eating it.
For example, a 300 calorie chicken breast, requires about 90 calories to break down. It also contains all nine essential amino acids, is low in saturated fat, and is incredibly versatile and almost always a staple for meal prep!
Best plant-based sources of protein
If you are looking for a good vegetarian source of protein, lentils are a great choice! One cup of cooked lentils contains about 10 grams of protein. Of course, it is important to understand that lentils are not a complete protein as they do not contain all nine essential amino acids.
By eating other plant foods, such as whole grains, throughout the day you should be able to meet your daily protein requirements easily. Lentils taste great in salads and soups, just remember not to overcook them or they can go mushy!
If you are looking to add a little boost of protein to your smoothies or salads, add in a small handful of walnuts! As well as being a good source of protein, these little beauties contain essential fatty acids and a number of vitamins and minerals. They are the perfect snack post-workout, especially if you mix them with some Greek yoghurt and berries or you can eat them as a snack on their own!
You can get enough protein from food
So there you have it ladies, some amazing natural sources of protein that you can eat on a daily basis.
Remember that with a healthy and balanced diet, you should easily be able to get your daily intake of protein without having to worry about whether you are consuming enough!
What are your favourite ways to eat protein?