Whatever your fitness objective, the hard work doesn’t end when you leave the gym or walk through the front door after a run or a bike ride. If you don’t back up your activity with the same level of devotion in the kitchen, you’ll have difficulty attaining the desired results. One key dietary consideration for active people is their protein intake. Protein plays a vital role through carbohydrates, and healthy fats also support our overall health and wellness. Protein should be a top priority as it is crucial for several human body functions.
Proteins consist of various amino acids, and these amino acid building blocks are present in plants and animals. However, it could be a concern for those who primarily eat plant-based protein.
Protein: An Introduction
Proteins are large, dense molecules that are essential to numerous bodily processes. They perform most of their work within cells and are necessary for developing, maintaining, and regulating the body’s tissues and organs. Proteins consist of hundreds or thousands of smaller building blocks called amino acids linked together in long chains.
Proteins consist of 20 different types of amino acids. Throughout our lives, these bodily proteins are constantly fixed and replaced. Therefore, a constant supply of amino acids is necessary for this process. Although some amino acids can regenerate by breaking down old biological proteins, the process is inefficient.
As a result, we must consume dietary protein to meet our bodies’ amino acid requirements. In addition, protein intake is crucial during periods of rapid development or increased demand, such as childhood, puberty, pregnancy, and lactation, because it is necessary for cell and tissue growth.
Health Benefits of Proteins
Tissue and Muscle Development
Protein is necessary for the development and repair of body structures. If your diet lacks enough proteins, you may face symptoms like muscle atrophy. Strength training activities cause micro-breaks in the muscles, which your body repairs, leading the muscles to expand. In addition, protein is necessary for the immune response that helps minor muscle damage repair. According to a study, adding additional protein to your diet will not help your body gain muscle.
The three macronutrients — fats, carbohydrates, and protein — have varied effects on your body, and protein is by far the most filling, according to a study. It allows you to eat less and feel more satisfied. Because protein lowers the hunger hormone ghrelin and enhances peptide YY levels, a hormone that helps you feel full.
Replace some carbohydrates and fats with protein to shed weight or belly fat. For example, make your potato or rice dish smaller while adding a few more bites of plant or animal-based protein like paneer or dal.
Eating can temporarily increase your metabolism, and this is because your body needs calories to digest and utilise the nutrients in foods. Thermic impact of food is the term for this (TEF).
Protein has a far more substantial thermic impact than fat or carbohydrates, ranging from 20–35% to 5–15%. In a study, high protein intake was found to enhance metabolism and dramatically increase the number of calories burned. It can add up to an extra 80–100 calories burned daily.
Reduces Recovery Time
Protein can help recover your body after an injury, which makes sense because it is the primary component of our tissues and organs. Several studies show that eating additional protein after an injury will help you heal faster.
A food craving is not the same as hunger. It’s not simply that your body requires energy or nourishment; our brain also needs a reward. Cravings, on the other hand, can be tough to manage, and increasing your protein intake is one of the most effective preventative techniques. According to one study, raising protein to 25% of calories reduced cravings by 60% and the propensity to snack at night by half in overweight males.
Proteins aid in the strengthening of the immune system since antibodies, which fight many diseases, are made up of proteins. Antibodies attack antigens, foreign entities that cause infections and conditions in our bodies.
As a result, antibodies aid in illness prevention by enhancing our immune systems and making us resistant to various diseases. Milk and its derivatives, such as cheese and yoghurt, are high in protein, minerals, and nutrients our bodies require. Yoghurt contains probiotic microorganisms that are beneficial to the digestive system and, thus, to the immune system.
Recommended Protein Intake
Protein should account for anywhere from 10% to 35% of your total calories. So, if your daily calorie requirements are 2,000, you’ll need 200–700 calories from protein or 50–175 g. For a typical sedentary adult, the recommended dietary requirement to avoid deficiency is 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight. So, for example, a 165-pound (75-kg) person should consume 60 g of protein daily.
Regular exercisers have higher requirements, ranging from 1.1–1.5 grams per kilogram. People who lift weights regularly or are training for a marathon or a cycling race require 1.2–1.7 grams per kilogram. More than 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight consumed daily can be excessive.
The HealthifyMe Note
One of the three essential macronutrients, along with carbs and fats, protein serves a variety of functions in the body. You can eat less and feel fuller by consuming protein, which also helps curb late-night cravings. Additionally, it boosts metabolism and the immune system, which aids in the body’s healing after injury. However, excess protein can result in bone diseases, kidney issues, and an elevated risk of cancer. Therefore, take caution when adding high-protein meals to your diet.
12 High-Protein Grains to Include in Your Diet
Buckwheat is a high-protein grain that is very simple to deal with and delicious. It is ideal for vegetarians because it is vital in protein and includes all eight amino acids your body requires to function properly. It’s a versatile grain used in breakfasts, soups, salads, and burger combinations. Buck flour is also helpful in producing soba noodles in Japan, galettes in France, and poffertjes in the Netherlands.
Research has linked buckwheat consumption to decreased blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Buckwheat’s nutritional composition per 100 grams, according to the USDA, is as follows:
- Protein: 3.38g
- Energy: 92 kcal
- Carbohydrate: 19.9g
- Fibre: 2.7g
- Calcium: 7mg
- Iron: 0.8mg
- Magnesium: 51mg
- Phosphorus: 70mg
- Potassium: 88 mg
This ancient wheat has the same nutritional benefits as the other whole grains on our list, including amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, as well as a high protein level. In addition, Kamut’s firm texture and nutty flavour make it particularly enjoyable to eat, so you’ll have no trouble downing this one as a hot cereal or a substitute for white rice.
Kamut’s nutritional composition per 100 grams, according to the USDA, is as follows:
- Protein: 14.5g
- Energy: 337kcal
- Carbohydrate: 70.6g
- Fibre: 11.1g
- Calcium: 22mg
- Iron: 3.77mg
- Magnesium: 130mg
- Phosphorus: 364mg
- Potassium: 403mg
Couscous, made up of tiny balls of crushed semolina and a mainstay of North African cuisine, has a delicate and airy texture that distinguishes it from some of the denser grains on our list.
However, don’t be fooled: When paired with chunky tuna, sweet tomatoes, and spicy pepperoncini, this protein-rich grain may quickly fill you up. Couscous as a side dish is one of the most popular ways to prepare it. Couscous, like quinoa and brown rice, is excellent with other dishes on top, such as stew or chicken.
Couscous’s nutritional composition per 100 grams, according to the USDA, is as follows:
- Protein: 12.8g
- Energy: 376kcal
- Carbohydrate: 77.4g
- Fibre: 5g
- Calcium: 24mg
- Iron: 1.08mg
- Potassium: 166mg
- Phosphorus: 170mg
One serving of this thick tiny grain provides an incredible quantity of vital minerals and fibre and is chewy, nutty, and 100% satisfying. Although farro isn’t a complete protein, it soon becomes one when mixed with a few vegetables to make a delightful farro salad. You can cook farro like rice or use ground farro instead of flour to incorporate it into your diet. It helps lighten up an otherwise heavy dish because it is naturally low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
Pearled farro’s nutritional composition per 100 grams, according to the USDA, is as follows:
- Protein: 12.5g
- Energy: 375kcal
- Carbohydrate: 72.5g
- Fibre: 7.5g
- Calcium: 0mg
- Iron: 4.5mg
Amaranth is a pseudocereal, which means that it is regarded as a whole grain due to its nutritional profile, although it isn’t a grain. All you need to know is that this is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids and vital minerals like iron and phosphorus. It also has a lot of manganese, which is necessary for protein metabolism.
It’s widely used in morning porridge or hot cereals, similar to oats. Popping amaranth like popcorn is a great way to incorporate it into your diet, and it produces a puffed grain that can be eaten straight away or used in dishes.
Amaranth’s nutritional composition per 100 grams, according to the USDA, is as follows:
- Protein: 13.6g
- Energy: 371kcal
- Carbohydrate: 65.2g
- Fibre: 6.7g
- Calcium: 159mg
- Iron: 7.61mg
- Sodium: 4mg
- Magnesium: 248mg
- Phosphorus: 557mg
- Potassium: 508mg
The wheat kernel is wheat berries, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. The grain can be ground into flour or used in place of other whole grains in recipes. It takes patience to prepare, but if you make a lot, you can use it in salads, breakfast bowls, or even as a stand-alone risotto side. Protein, iron, and fibre are all abundant in this versatile ingredient that may be useful in savoury and sweet meals.
Wheat berries’ nutritional composition per 100 grams, according to the USDA, is as follows:
- Protein: 18.8g
- Energy: 354kcal
- Carbohydrate: 66.7g
- Fibre: 8.3g
- Calcium: 83mg
- Iron: 4.5mg
- Magnesium: 125mg
- Phosphorus: 417mg
This whole grain choice is a wonderful way to fill the morning while getting your first solid protein boost of the day, far better than most (highly processed) breakfast cereals.
Try steel-cut oats for optimal health benefits—this (slow-cooking) variety of oatmeal is the least processed, with the highest fibre content and lowest glycemic index.
Oats’ nutritional composition per 100 grams, according to the USDA, is as follows:
- Protein: 13.2g
- Energy: 379kcal
- Carbohydrate: 67.7g
- Fibre: 10.1g
- Calcium: 52mg
- Iron: 4.25mg
- Magnesium: 138mg
- Phosphorus: 410mg
- Potassium: 362mg
Spelt flour is a stoneground ancient grain that can be used the same way as ordinary flour. If you’re on a high-protein diet, switching to spelt flour instead of all-purpose flour is a simple and healthy method to boost your protein intake. If you’re new to spelt, start with spelt bread, spelt pancakes, or other spelt-based recipes.
Spelt’s nutritional composition per 100 grams, according to the USDA, is as follows:
- Protein: 14.6g
- Energy: 338kcal
- Carbohydrate: 70.2g
- Fibre: 10.7g
- Calcium: 27mg
- Iron: 4.44mg
- Magnesium: 136mg
- Phosphorus: 401mg
- Potassium: 388m
It is a gluten-free grain that is substantial in protein and soluble fibre, an essential dietary component for probiotics, which improve intestinal health.
Quinoa salads are an excellent alternative for vegetarians and vegans since they include all eight necessary amino acids. Quinoa bowls make great breakfasts rich in plant-based protein and other minerals and link with savoury lunch and dinner recipes. Try a high-protein quinoa breakfast meal to start your day with a burst of protein-rich grains.
Quinoa’s nutritional composition per 100 grams, according to the USDA, is as follows:
- Protein: 14.1g
- Energy: 368kcal
- Carbohydrate: 64.2g
- Fibre: 7g
- Calcium: 47mg
- Iron: 4.57mg
- Magnesium: 197mg
- Phosphorus: 457mg
- Potassium: 563mg
- Sodium: 5mg
Millets include grains like ragi, Bajra etc. It is commonly referred to as a grain. Due to its texture and can use as a substitute for wheat or oats. Not only is millet substantial in protein, but it’s also gluten-free and low on the glycemic index, which means it won’t raise your blood sugar. This versatile grain can be used in place of oats in breakfast bowls or to add flavour and texture to stuffed vegetables for a filling, protein-rich dinner.
Millet also benefits from being a good source of vitamins and minerals. It’s high in magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and B vitamins, which help the body circulate properly.
Millet’s nutritional composition per 100 grams, according to the USDA, is as follows:
- Protein: 11g
- Energy: 378kcal
- Carbohydrate: 72.8g
- Fibre: 8.5g
- Calcium: 8mg
- Iron: 3.01mg
- Magnesium: 114mg
- Phosphorus: 285mg
- Potassium: 195mg
- Sodium: 5mg
Brown rice is a nutritious whole-grain option that will help you satisfy your body’s protein needs. It is one of the most popular high-protein grains, and it is also a versatile grain used in various dishes, including Mexican and Asian cuisines.
Brown rice provides more fibre than white rice since it is less processed. Brown rice has a lower calorie content and a lower glycemic index than white rice. As a result, it provides a rapid source of energy that is also mild on the stomach.
Brown rice’s nutritional composition per 100 grams, according to the USDA, is as follows:
- Protein: 7.54g
- Energy: 367kcal
- Carbohydrate: 76.2g
- Fibre: 3.6g
- Calcium: 9mg
- Iron: 1.29mg
- Magnesium: 116mg
- Phosphorus: 311mg
- Potassium: 250mg
- Sodium: 5mg
Wild rice is not to be confused with ordinary rice. It has a black, chewy outer sheath and is long and slender. Wild rice contains substantially more nutrients than Asian white rice, its distant cousin. Because of its high quantity of antioxidants, minerals, dietary fibre, and protein, wild rice has gotten a lot of attention. In addition, it has a nutty flavour and texture that makes it a fantastic accent to any dish, plus it’s gluten-free by nature.
Wild rice’s nutritional composition per 100 grams, according to the USDA, is as follows:
- Protein: 14.7g
- Energy: 357kcal
- Carbohydrate: 74.9g
- Fibre: 6.2g
- Calcium: 21mg
- Iron: 1.96mg
- Magnesium: 177mg
- Phosphorus: 433mg
- Potassium: 427mg
- Sodium: 7mg
The HealthifyMe Note
A healthy diet should contain a lot of protein. In particular, protein is helpful for almost everything in the human body. Both plant-based and animal-based diets can be good providers of healthy protein. High protein grains include quinoa, millets, buckwheat, farro, brown rice, and others. One cup of cooked whole comprises roughly 6–20% of the daily required protein requirements. In contrast, the human diet’s primary animal-based protein sources are meat, fish, and eggs. These grains contain a varied nutritional profile, including vitamins and minerals essential for the metabolism of proteins.
Is it Safe to Eat a High-Protein Diet?
High-protein diets offer their drawbacks— Diets high in protein, which may also be high in fat, can cause excessive cholesterol, heart disease, and other disorders, including gout. Some high-protein diets restrict carbohydrate intake so severely that they induce nutritional deficiencies or a lack of fibre, leading to health issues, including constipation.
Protein is necessary for life because it provides the essential amino acids for cell and tissue growth and maintenance. Protein requirements may vary depending on age and lifestyle, so consume a varied diet to meet your body’s needs. Use the list of high-protein grains above as a guide to keep you on target. Furthermore, soaking some grains reduces anti-nutrients, which might obstruct mineral absorption. Finally, buy organic grains if you want to be sure your food is pesticide-free.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)
Q. What grain has the highest protein?
A. Whole-grain spelt is highly nutritious as it contains essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. The USDA claims that spelt is an ancient grain with the highest protein level of any grain. Additionally, it is a good source of dietary fibre, which helps digestion, reduces blood sugar spikes, and reduces the risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Q. What are the top 10 high-protein foods?
A. Protein is beneficial for you, no doubt about it. However, eating the proper amount and type of protein is crucial, so here are the top 10 high-protein foods.
- Fish and Seafood
- White-meat poultry with no skin
- Lean beef
- Low-fat or skim milk
- Yoghurt (skim or low-fat)
- Low-fat or fat-free cheese
- Lean pork
- Legumes like beans and lentils
Q3. Which seeds are high in protein?
A. There are many high protein seeds to include in our diet, such as pumpkin seeds, which contain 32.14 grams of protein per 100g, according to the USDA, followed by flaxseeds (18.3 g of protein), chia seeds (16.5g of protein), sesame seeds (17.7g of protein), and sunflower seeds (20.8g of protein).
Q. Are whole grains high in protein?
A. Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain— bran, endosperm and germ. There are many different kinds, like whole wheat, corn, oats, brown rice, and quinoa. According to the USDA, whole grains have more fibre than refined grains and offer 13.2 grams of protein. Additionally, it includes nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fibre and other plant compounds. As a result, whole grains help curb chronic inflammation and lower the risk of type2 diabetes, obesity, stroke and heart disease.
Q. Is quinoa high in protein?
A. Quinoa is a pseudocereal that is high in fibre and plant protein. It contains all nine necessary amino acids that your body needs but can only obtain from your diet, and it contains 14.1g of protein. In addition, quinoa is high in antioxidants, which can prevent heart damage and help with cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Q. How can I get 50 grams of protein?
A. The amount of protein you require daily is determined by your age, weight, gender, and degree of activity. If you need 50 g of protein per day — or per meal — make sure it comes from a range of nutrient-dense foods, including meat, fish, eggs, cereals, and so on.
Q. What foods are pure protein?
A. Chicken breast, turkey breast, shrimp, egg whites, dried fish, tuna, and cod are a few examples of pure protein foods. Eating pure protein may speed up healing after any injury and help you lose weight by making you feel fuller.
Q. Which fruit has the most protein?
A. Guava is one of the most protein-dense fruits you’ll ever come across. Every cup contains a massive 4.2 g of protein, and this tropical fruit is exceptionally high in fibre and vitamin C. It can help healthy bowel movement and relax muscles and nerves of the body due to its nutrient-dense profile.
Q. Which nut is best for protein?
A. Almonds are extremely popular due to their flavour and outstanding nutritious profile with 6 grams of protein, making them the most protein-dense of all nuts. Vitamin E is very abundant in these nuts.