11 Best Protein Packed Foods To Include In Your Diet
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11 Best Protein Packed Foods To Include In Your Diet

Exploring the world beyond grilled chicken

11 Best Protein Packed Foods To Include In Your Diet

High protein diets seem to be all the rage lately, which has many people wondering just how much they should actually be eating and what foods truly contain the most protein per serving.

From protein bars and shakes filling the "health food" aisles to advertisements for low-carb programs like Atkins and Keto, it's easy to get overwhelmed and feel like the whole "protein trend" thing is too good to be true.

While it's important to do your research before making any big diet or lifestyle change, there are tons of mental and physical benefits of making the effort to include more protein-rich foods in your life.

Regularly eating more protein-rich foods has proven to keep people full and satisfied longer after meals and prevent mindless snacking later when compared to foods higher in carbs and sugar.

If you're someone who regularly hits the gym and lifts weights, or if you're just looking to build up some extra muscle mass, protein is responsible for repairing and rebuilding muscles after a tough workout.

Consuming protein is especially beneficial in the morning since protein high foods releases nutrients into the bloodstream at a much slower rate than carbs, giving you long-lasting high energy levels throughout the day.

But that doesn't mean you need to only be eating grilled chicken breast and broccoli every single night. In fact, you don't even need to eat meat at all to meet all your protein needs. If you're a vegan/vegetarian/pescetarian or just looking to cut down on your meat intake in general, there are a ton of tasty substitutes that you can make instead. Here are some of the underrated and often unknown protein-rich foods you should stock up on!

1. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese used to seem odd to me for it's slightly lumpy appearance but I've recently discovered that it's a delicious source of both protein and calcium. It's also considered a "miracle food" for helping aid with sleep and digestive issues.

Cottage cheese is also incredibly versatile, regularly served in both sweet breakfast options (pineapple/strawberry/blueberry) as well as savory side dishes when prepared with cucumbers and tomatoes and seasoned with dill.

If you really can't get past the texture, cottage cheese can also be blended up and used as a great low-cal base for smoothies!

2. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than other varieties, and contains more than double the protein and calcium than low-fat brands like Yoplait and Dannon. Plain Greek yogurt is the healthiest option since it doesn't contain any added sugars/artificial flavorings. However, if you prefer your yogurt sweet, try stirring in a spoonful of honey, jam, or even a cup of mixed berries. Mixing in a handful or granola is also an easy way to add some texture to your breakfast.

3. Eggs

Scrambled, Hard boiled, fried, over-easy; Has there ever been a more versatile food than eggs? Inexpensive and packed with healthy fats and proteins, there's no reason not to make a carton of eggs a staple on your weekly grocery list. Bonus tip: if you're a college student looking for a quick meal at the end of the week, try whipping up a "Leftover Omlette." Basically, crack a few eggs in a pan and add whatever random extras happen to be in your fridge that you would otherwise have to get rid of. (veggies, olives, shredded cheese..ect.) The best part of this 'recipe' is that there are no rules.

4. Almond Milk

Even if you're not vegan or lactose-intolerant, occasionally trading traditional milk for a glass of nut-based almond milk will help you cut down on saturated fats, sugars, and lactose acids that can upset digestion. Right now, non-dairy alternatives are more popular than ever, and almond milk can now be found in many tasty flavors from chocolate to honeycomb. Almond Breeze's Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk is my personal go-to, especially when added to coffee and hot chocolate or poured over a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

5. Lentils

For centuries, deemed one of the "world's healthiest foods," due to their incredibly high fiber and lean protein content per gram. These hearty legumes also contain over 80% of your daily iron content, an essential nutrient for preventing both your body and brain from feeling weak and lethargic. Lentils are an especially appealing option in the colder months as they make a filling addition to lots of winter soups and chills.

6. Tofu/Edamame

Enjoy the soy! Both tofu and edamame are protein-rich meat substitutes that can be molded to add bulk to basically any dish. Like cottage cheese, tofu's raw texture can be a little off-putting at first, but it's known for its ability to absorb flavors and is great for tossing in stir fry or soup broth! Similarly, edamame, more commonly known as soybeans, are pretty bland raw but make an amazing side dish steamed and served with salt and a drizzle of lemon.

7. Baked Beans and Chickpeas

Bean salads and baked beans are much smarter side dish options for protein lovers than rices or noodle dishes. Traditionally bean stews and chili recipes have also been considered "mountain man foods" for their ability to keep adventurers warm and full on long, winter hikes.

Chickpeas, in particular, have gained popularity in recent years as the main ingredient in hummus spreads, which make incredibly refreshing snack options especially when used as dips for carrot sticks or pretzels

8. White Fish and Shrimp

Often called "chicken of the sea," white fish like tuna and halibut pack tons of protein for very little calories. Shellfish like shrimp, crayfish and lobster are also mostly made up for muscle and make excellent protein filled snacks. Since fresh seafood can often be pretty pricy on a student budget, canned tuna and salmon from the grocery store are cheap, accessible options that will fill you up and provide lots of lean protein and healthy fats.

9. Dark Greens

I'll admit the whole "kale craze" that went down a few years ago was a little nuts. However, kale actually is pretty worthy of the super food title, packing tons of protein, fiber, folate acid, and other essential vitamins in every single gram. But if kale isn't your thing, never fear. Spinach, broccoli, and chard are all equally nutritious options for enriching your salad.

10. Raw Oats

Swap out that bowl of sugary cereal in the morning for a bowl of raw, rolled oats and fruit soaked in milk and you'll be bursting with energy all day. Pinterest has tons of delicious "overnight oats" recipes that you can stick in the fridge before bed and grab on the way to class. Never again will you be able to make the excuse that you "don't have time" for breakfast.

11. Mushrooms

It's not just the hallucinogenic kind of mushrooms that have a magic quality! Mushrooms contain tons of iron and vitamin D and have been known to help boost your immune system as well as reduce the risk of both lung and bladder cancer. Cook them in an omelet or add to a savory soup for a truly protein-packed, powerful meal experience.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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