If you want to shed fat and gain muscle, then protein should be a cornerstone of your diet. The more protein you eat, the better. If you’re working out regularly, the rule of thumb is to eat 1 gram of protein for each pound that you weigh.
The trick with all this protein consumption is to maximize the amount of protein you eat without eating too many calories. Beef, for instance, has a lot of protein in it, but it also contains tons of fat – you’ll never get into great shape if all your protein comes from hamburger! But there are certain foods that give you a lot of protein bang for your caloric buck. Here are four of them.
There’s nothing wrong with the taste of egg yokes, but if you want a high protein and low calorie diet, then stick to just the egg whites. A single white of a normal size egg has about 4 grams of protein, and has only 16 total calories. The daily protein requirement for an adult male is 56 grams (it’ll be more if you work out regularly). So just two or three egg whites a day will satisfy about 20 percent of your protein requirements, and will contribute only a nominal amount of calories to your diet. Plus, egg whites contain nine essential amino acids, which your body needs to grow muscle.
The easiest way to prepare egg whites is to hard boil them. Simply add fresh eggs with shells intact to a pot of water. Bring the water to boil, then remove it from the heat and cover for 10-12 minutes. When eating your new hard boiled eggs, just throw away the yokes. Most of the protein is in the whites, and the yokes have the entirety of the egg’s cholesterol.
A delicious food that’s impossible to know how to say (it’s usually pronounced ‘keen-wah,) Qunoa gives you a lot of protein and very little calories. One cup of cooked quinoa has about 8 grams of protein with only about 200 calories.
Quinao was a staple food for the Incas, who in fact believed it to be sacred. They referred to it as chisaya mama – the mother of all grains. We can’t help but think that these people, who knew nothing about calories or amino acids, could somehow sense the favorable health properties that quinoa offers. The ancients knew it, and today we’re just rediscovering what they learned.
The best thing about quinoa, aside from its protein-to-calorie ratio, is how easy it is to prepare. Simply add a cup of quinoa to two cups of water, bring to boil, then cover for 10 minutes. Use it in your meals just like you would use rice. It’s an excellent pairing for fish or other lean meats. Or do what I do when I’m feeling lazy: cook it and eat it with hot sauce.
Most fish have a very favorable protein to calorie ratio. Take canned tuna, for instance – every three ounce serving yields 22 grams of protein and only 99 calories!
Open up a can of tuna for a quick and easy protein boost. If you’re tired of tuna and mayonnaise, try to spice it up. Add a couple spoonfuls of hummus instead, and give it some kick with a couple squirts of sriracha. Or fry it up in a pan with some vegetables with a little bit of oil.
Other high protein and low calorie fish include salmon, cod and halibut.
Cottage cheese makes me think of my grandma. She’s the only person I know who loves cottage cheese. People these days seem to fall in two categories regarding this unique food: those who are indifferent and those who take an active dislike of it. I fall in the latter category – the runny and chunky texture makes me gag. But cottage cheese is a pillar of my grandma’s diet. She puts it on toast, mixes it in salads and eats it plain by the spoon full. As a kid, I could never understand her obsession with cottage cheese.
But after all these years I get it: she was just following the latest food science, which says that cottage cheese is incredibly healthy for you. A cup of non fat cottage cheese has 15mg of protein and only 104 calories! Body builders have long used it as a tool to build muscle, because it has the rare casein protein, which is low in fat and takes a long time for the body to break it down, which makes you feel full longer.
If you don’t want to put it on toast (I don’t think anyone would besides my grandma,) then try mixing it with fresh fruit and some honey. The sweetness of the fruit and honey will make you forget about that gag-inducing texture.
What you eat is extremely important for how your body looks. So if you want to get into great shape, try to get your protein from foods that are healthy and low in calories, such as the four above.
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