Photo: Shutterstock / Artem Evdokimov
Counting macronutrients—protein, fat, and carbs—may not be totally mainstream just yet, but people are starting to pay more attention to it. And while some diets want you to limit carbs or fat, nearly every eating program—from the keto diet and Mediterranean diet to Whole30 and the DASH diet—gives the green light to high-protein foods. Why?
“Amino acids, the organic molecules that make up protein, are essentially the building blocks of life,” says Abby Olson, R.D., owner of Encompass Nutrition in St. Paul, MN. “Unlike carbohydrates and fat, your body doesn’t store extra amino acids, and they need to be consumed daily.”
In other words, if you fall short on your recommended intake of high-protein foods, your internal and external organs will suffer.
“You need protein to make hair, blood, enzymes, and so much more,” explains Brooke Alpert, R.D., author of The Diet Detox. “The recommended daily allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, so a 130-pound woman would need at least 48 grams of protein. In my practice, I’ve found those numbers to be a bit modest [so] instead of focusing on grams, I simply ask my clients to make sure there is one serving of protein at every single meal.”
Your waistline can also suffer if you don’t regularly eat high-protein foods each day. Science shows a connection between a healthy dietary protein intake and lower weight, more lean body mass, better cholesterol, a healthier waist-to-hip ratio, and lower blood pressure.
Hit your quota with this list of dietitian-approved high-protein foods that fit within any eating style.
High-Protein, High-Fat Foods
1. Full-Fat Greek Yogurt
Skip the “zero” cartons and snack on yogurt made with whole milk (generally about 4 percent fat). In addition to the appetite-taming fat, each serving provides around 20 grams of protein. “Compared to regular yogurts, full-fat Greek is way more satisfying since it helps stabilize blood sugar levels,” says Alpert. Stick to plain-flavored varieties (you can add your own natural sweeteners if it’s too tart) to make sure added sugar doesn’t sneak up on you.
Whether you prefer plain pecans, almond butter on your midday sandwich, or the crunch of cashews in your homemade trail mix, you’ll score a satisfying amount of protein (about 5 grams per ounce), fat, and fiber from nuts. “Nuts are a trifecta of healthy eating,” says Alpert….