High-Protein Diet Plan, Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid

  • Author: Jennifer Cohen
  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Foods that are high in protein definition and facts

  • Protein is one of the three nutrients that the body uses as an energy source (calories). Proteins are essential components of our muscles, skin, and bones.
  • Proteins and carbohydrates provide 4 calories of energy per gram
  • Fats provide 9 calories of energy per gram.

What is protein? What are aminio acids?

Protein is composed of 20 building blocks known as amino acids. Each protein source contains some or all of those amino acids so vary your sources of protein to ensure you’re eating and digesting necessary nutrients. Each amino acid plays an important role in body function.

There are 20 different types of amino acids, and our body cannot make or convert nine of them. These nine amino acids are essential for the body to function. The only way for the body to these these nine amino acids is to eat foods that that have the nine amino acids.

Animal-based protein contains adequate amounts of all essential amino acids while, plant proteins usually are missing one or more of the essential amino acids. That’s why varying our protein source matters.

When making your high-protein diet make sure to eat enough protein based on your:

  • Activity level
  • Bodyweight
  • Diet goals

How much protein do I need each day?

According to the American Heart Association guidelines, adults who are trying to lose weight and keep it off should eat no more than 30 percent of total daily calories from fat and less than 7 percent from saturated fat, which is difficult or impossible with many high-protein diets.

  • High-protein diets may restrict the intake of important carbohydrates and low-fat dairy products.
  • Lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats are integral components of a healthy diet. It is important to eat the right amount of protein each day to maximize the unique health benefits of it.

How much protein is in seafood?

  • A four-ounce serving of shrimp contains 24 grams of protein and is 112 calories.
  • There are four ounces (20 grams) of protein in a seafood filet, for example, salmon.
  • Salmon and other shellfish may higher in calories; however, they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which is healthy for your heart.

Which seafoods are rich in protein?

Shellfish is an excellent source of protein, for example:
  • Cooked shrimp
  • Cooked Lobster
  • Cooked Atlantic salmon
  • Cooked Roe
  • Raw sea cucumber
  • Shrimp

Shrimp contains a muscle-building protein that is a great source of betaine. The body needs betaine because it helps maintain normal levels of homocysteine (an amino acid) in the blood. High (elevated) levels of homocysteine promotes inflammation of the lining of blood vessels.

How much protein is in diary products?

Protein in dairy products

  • Dairy foods, for example, milk, cheese, and yogurt are excellent sources of protein, and have calcium, many of which are fortified with vitamin D.
  • A low-fat diet with skim or low-fat dairy is high in protein, calcium, and other supplements are better choices than foods high in saturated fat, which have more calories.
  • Plain Greek yogurt is made by straining out the extra whey in traditional yogurt, and has less sugar and carbohydrates that flavored versions.
  • Plain Greek yogurt has almost double the protein of regular yogurt, and probiotics, which helps support gut health.
  • A high-protein diet should include dairy products like plain Greek yogurt because the flavored ones are higher in calories and fat.
  • Add Greek yogurt to a smoothie or use it as a substitute for sour cream. Switching to Greek yogurt will save you 78 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat.

One cup of plain Greek yogurt has 23 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat and 133 calories.

Quick GuideSurprising Reasons for Weight Gain

Surprising Reasons for Weight Gain

How much protein are in beans?

Beans are rich in in protein and are high in fiber and water so they make you feel fuller faster, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a registered dietitian at Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Wellness Institute in Chicago and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.  This allows you to add protein to your diet without the extra calories and fat.

  • Beans have phytochemicals, which are compounds only found in plants (phyto is Greek for "plant"), which is not in meat.
  • Beans are high in antioxidants, a class of phytochemicals that incapacitate cell-damaging free radicals in the body (Free radicals have been implicated in everything from cancer and aging to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's), says Mark Brick, PhD, a professor in the department of soil and crop sciences at Colorado State University. Brick is currently investigating the ability of different bean varieties to prevent cancer and diabetes.
  • Beans also contain heart-healthy folate and energy-creating iron. Add some to your next salad to give yourself a healthy boost of protein.

One-half cup of beans contain about 24 grams, which is the same amount of protein in an ounce of steak.

How much protein is in soy and lean beef?

Soy

  • A Tufts University study showed that soy protein may lower "bad" (LDL) cholesterol levels and increase LDL particle size -- both of which are linked to lowering the risk of heart disease. Another study found that when middle-aged men at high risk of heart disease ate at least 20 grams of soy protein and 80 mg of isoflavones (the major phytochemical in soy) daily for five weeks, they ended up with lower blood pressure and lower total cholesterol, among other benefits.There are many options to get soy in your diet as a good source of protein.
  • One half-cup serving of edamame (steamed soybeans) contains 13 grams of protein, 4 grams of total fat and 120 calories.

Lean Beef

  • Ground beef (90% or Leaner) is a good source of high-quality protein. Three ounces of lean ground beef has 22 grams of protein. In addition, lean ground beef contains iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. There are many ways to get lean ground beef in your diet, for example, homemade sliders, taco salads, and lettuce wraps for a high-protein, low-fat meal.

How much protein is there in poultry white-meat and pork tenderloins?

Poultry white meat

White meat is a great source of dense, lean protein in your diet, for example:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Turkey breast cutlets
  • Ground turkey breast
  • Dense nutrients that are high protein
  • A low-fat diet
  • Avoid eating the dark meat and skin.

A three-ounce serving of boneless, skinless turkey breast and a 3-ounce serving of boneless skinless chicken breast contain 26 grams of protein (180 calories).

Pork Tenderloin

  • Pork tenderloin is a great source of protein, but it is high in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol, which is a good addition to a diet that is focused on managing high blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • A three-ounce serving of pork tenderloin provides 22 grams (four calories) of protein, 3.7 grams of total fat, and 1 gram of saturated fat.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 11/20/2018
References
REFERENCE:
All About the Protein Foods Group. USDA; ChooseMyPlate.gov. Updated: Aug 10, 2018.
<https://www.choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods>

Protein. FDA.
<https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/protein.html>
CONTINUE SCROLLING FOR RELATED SLIDESHOW