GUEST POST: The truth is that protein is the number 1 essential to our bariatric diet. But how much should you be consuming? And what foods should you eat to get your optimum protein intake? Here’s a list that’ll answer some of these questions, and a few more besides.
What is protein and what does it do?
If you’re considering increasing your protein intake, it’s important you get a good idea of what protein is and what it does to the body. The first thing to know is that protein is a macronutrient composed of amino acids. These are vital if the body and its cells are to work properly. Consequently, the protein we consume on a daily basis is responsible for a wide range of important functions such as the growth and repair of cells, muscle and tissue; fighting off sickness and disease; and as a source of energy.
So how much do you need?
Your protein intake depends on factors such as lifestyle, sex and age. With that said, the recommended daily intake for ‘normal’ females is 46g, while for ‘normal’ males it is 56g. However, if you’re a bariatric or wls patient your needs are higher simply because you don’t absorb or digest all of the protein you ingest. Most bariatric teams recommend that you aim for about 70g daily (those who have had a duodenal switch procedure will be much higher again about 100-120g daily).
The high protein foods that are best for you
While protein is essential to each of us, it’s important to remember that it should be taken as part of a balanced bariatric diet, in proportion to our intake of carbohydrates and fats. While not having enough protein in your diet can cause muscle atrophy and bodily dysfunction, too much can lead to bowel disorders (due to a lack of fibre) and place an unnecessary strain on the kidneys and liver. To get the benefits while avoiding problems it’s best to mix up your sources of protein by combining plant-based with animal-based proteins. Whole food sources of protein also offer additional nutrients that are often absent from protein powders and snacks. So, with all this in mind, here are ten of the very best high protein foods out there!
1. Free-range Eggs
Eggs are a terrific source of protein. You can have them at any time of the day and cook them in a variety of ways. They’re also loaded with amino acids. Free range eggs are more nutritious, however, as the diet of hens allowed to roam is more varied and natural than caged hens. Note that egg whites offer the same amount of protein but less cholesterol than egg yolk.
- Approximately 6 grams per 1 egg.
High in protein and low in cholesterol, quinoa also provides you with lots of iron and dietary fibre for good bowel health.
- 8 grams per 190 grams/1 cup.
3. Cottage cheese (reduced fat option)
All cheeses provide plenty of protein but watch for the fat content. Because of its versatility, a low-fat variety of cottage cheese is an ideal high protein snack food.
- 100 grams/1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains approximately 13 grams of protein.
4. Grass-fed beef and steak
In much the same way that free-range eggs are preferable to eggs from caged hens, grass-fed beef will provide you with more nutrients and healthier fats that grain-fed beef so opt for it if you can. The protein content will be the same regardless:
- 100 grams/4 oz of lean beef will provide you with around 22 grams of protein.
5. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt. It is richer, contains valuable fats, more nutrients, and is lower in sugar. Choose 0% fat if you want to keep the fats very low in a recipe or dish.
- A 200 gram/3/4 cup serving of Greek yogurt has around 8.2 grams of protein.
6. Soya Milk
Soya milk is an excellent substitute for milk if you are dairy intolerant. As well as being rich in protein, soya milk has been proven to lower cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
Turkey and chicken are both excellent sources of protein, but turkey contains less fat and is slightly higher in amino acids – including tryptophan, which aids sleep. Removing the skin will reduce the saturated fat content.
- 100 grams/4 oz of roasted turkey breast contains 21 grams of protein.
Most nuts are a safe bet when it comes to providing plenty of protein along with oodles of omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. Almonds made the list because they’re widely available, extremely versatile, and among the lowest-calorie nuts you can buy.
- A 25g/1/4 cup serving of almonds will provide you with 6 grams of protein.
Like nuts, most legumes (beans, peas and lentils) offer lots of protein and fibre. Edamame is a bean that is particularly high in protein but balances it with carbohydrates and unsaturated fat.
- A serving of 100 grams/4 oz contains 12 grams of protein.
10. Canned tuna and salmon
Tuna and salmon are two extremely healthy high protein foods. Both are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Tuna gets the nod on our list, however, because it’s typically more affordable and contains fewer calories!
- 100 grams/4 oz of tuna contains 27 grams of protein.