If you’re hoping to shed a few pounds before swimsuit season and build up some impressive muscle, then protein-packed foods are about to become your best friends. The more you work out every day, the more protein you will need to compensate for the toll the training takes on your muscles. Plus, protein is very filling, low in calories, and requires your body to use plenty of energy while digesting. All of these things can help you shed weight faster and easier.
Not sure how much protein you need to start packing into your daily diet? Follow these simple steps:
- Figure out how much you weigh. Don’t just guesstimate; get a scale out and physically measure.
- Convert your weight from pounds to kilograms. Then multiply each kilogram of your weight by 0.8, which is how many grams of protein you need per kilogram.
Keep in mind that the average woman requires about 46 grams of protein per day while men need closer to 56 grams.
If you’re not sure what foods are the best for adding protein to your meals, here are some suggestions that will have you reaching your protein goals in no time.
Spinach is known by many as a mega-superfood, for many reasons: the leaves are packed with antioxidants, folate, vitamins, and of course, protein. There are 5 grams of protein in a one cup serving. Sauté a cup of spinach with some healthy oil or steam it to get the full benefit of its nutrients.
» For a protein-packed and filling breakfast, you must try our Savory Spinach and Ricotta Crepes!
If you go for a lean strip steak, you’ll only consume about 133 calories in comparison to the 300 or more from a regular steak. However, you’ll still get more than 26 grams of protein from the meat, so it’s a win-win for low-cal, high-protein dieters.
I know what you’re thinking: how can these mushy little veggies really be a great source of protein? Well, surprisingly, one cup of peas gives you eight grams of protein for only 118 calories. Added bonus: you’ll get tons of vitamin C, as well.
Although you might think that pork is one of the less healthy meat options available, doctors have discovered that it contains tons of helpful protein and isn’t that caloric. One serving will put you up 24 grams on your protein count, but it only sets you back 124 calories. Just make sure that the pork is lean, not fatty.
Salmon is praised by dieticians for numerous reasons, especially when it’s fresh and wild. The fish can reduce muscle inflammation, help you look trim, and give you a whopping 17 grams of protein per serving. Salmon is as low-calorie as it is tasty, so deciding to add it to your protein-heavy diet is really a no-brainer.
If you’re looking for a super easy, affordable way to up your protein intake, eggs are the way to go. Each egg has less than 100 calories, but it packs an impressive seven grams of protein. Don’t worry about avoiding the yolk; it’s got fat-fighting nutrients inside it!
One of the cheapest proteins you can buy are beans. Beans contain 7 to 10 grams of protein per half cup serving and is a great way for vegetarian's to get a healthy serving of protein. Even though you do get a lot of protein from beans, it is not a complete protein, as it lacks one or more of the essential amino acids needed for a healthy diet. If you east plenty of proteins such as chicken, fish or beef this isn't an issue. If you are a vegetarian, you'll want to add another plant-based protein to meet your daily requirements.
» Make a keep-you-full snack with our Spiced Chickpeas—perfect for snacking on the go!
With more than twice the protein of regular yogurt (20 grams in a 7 ounce serving), Greek yogurt is a great source to turn to when focused on muscle enhancement. Just be careful to avoid Greek yogurt with artificial colors, added sugars, and artificial ingredients. Greek yogurt also contains casein, a slow digesting milk protein to help keep you feeling full longer.
Want a great Greek yogurt snack? Try our Frozen Blueberry Yogurt Bites.
Canned tuna fish is a lean and inexpensive way to fuel your body with protein. Just 3 ounces of tuna will give you 25 whooping grams of protein! Tuna is also pretty versatile, you can mix it into several dishes to bolster your protein intake.
» Use tuna in a recipe! You'll love how quickly our Skinny Avocado Tuna Salad comes together for a delicious lunch!
Turkey is one of the leanest cuts of protein you'll find, even more so than its close relative, the chicken, which comes in at 16 grams for the same serving size. Choose white or dark meat as both are healthy and low in fat—just watch out for the skin which will hike up your calorie consumption.