Protein is an essential nutrient that supports the growth and repair of muscles, bones, skin and blood. It also helps regulate blood sugar, which can help reduce inflammation and improve mental and physical health.
The amount of protein you need varies depending on your age, weight, and goals. However, 25 to 40 grams is a good goal for most healthy adults.
Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein with the majority being found in the egg white. They’re also packed with vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients – a large egg contains 6 grams of protein plus vitamins D, B2, B12, choline and eye-protecting antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin!
Researchers have linked egg consumption to improved cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of heart disease. However, it’s important to keep egg intake low, and to avoid eating more than three eggs a day.
In addition to being an excellent source of high-quality protein, eggs are a low-calorie option with 72 calories per large egg. They are also a satiating breakfast, keeping you full until lunchtime.
2. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a protein-rich option that can help you feel full and stabilize blood sugar throughout the day. It also contains probiotics, which are good for your immune system and digestive health.
A 5.3-ounce container of nonfat plain Greek yogurt has 10 grams of protein per serving. However, some brands have higher protein than others, so it’s important to read the label carefully and choose one that fits your needs.
Greek yogurt is strained to remove a large percentage of the liquid whey during production, which gives it a thicker, less watery texture and more protein than regular yogurt. You can find this type of yogurt in full-fat, low-fat or fat-free varieties.
3. Lean Meat
Lean meat, poultry and fish are great sources of protein. They also contain important nutrients like vitamin B12, iron and zinc.
Lean protein can help you keep satiated longer, and it helps your body burn fat. Ideally, you should aim to have around 30 grams of protein per meal to meet your daily needs.
You can add extra protein to your breakfast with eggs, Greek yogurt, chopped nuts or a cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Tofu is another option if you’re looking for a low-fat source of protein.
4. Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are extremely nutrient-dense foods that offer generous amounts of calories, fats, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals. They are also rich sources of phytochemicals, bioactive compounds that are thought to help reduce disease risk.
The most nutrient-dense nuts are almonds, pistachios, walnuts and cashews, which each contain 4-7 grams of protein per quarter cup. Other nut options include hazelnuts, pecans and pepitas.
Seeds are small edible fruits that are enclosed in a protective shell (similar to the hard outer layer of the ovary). Most seeds are able to open up and free themselves from the shell, while some aren’t.
Nuts and seeds have varying amounts of primarily unsaturated fats. This is important for a diet designed to reduce heart disease. However, they do not contain enough protein to be considered a complete source of protein.
Protein is an important nutrient that helps maintain blood sugar balance and satiety, which can help prevent cravings and mindless midmorning snacking. It can also help support weight loss and muscle mass growth, says registered dietitian Elizabeth Jarrard.
While protein can come from a variety of food sources, dairy is one of the best places to start. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream contain a wide range of amino acids, including all nine essential amino acids.
Dairy foods like skim milk and low-fat mozzarella are among the most protein-dense. But, some products may not be as high in protein per serving as others.