High Protein Foods

Publish Date April 6, 2022 4 Minute Read

How to Incorporate More Protein in Your Diet

When talking about protein, we often think exclusively of meat, fish or poultry. However, there are actually many different foods that can serve as a source of protein, including vegetables, legumes, dairy and more. How much protein do all of these foods actually provide – and more importantly, how much do you need to consume? It’s time to do a deep dive on this popular macronutrient!

First, let’s discuss what our body uses protein for. Protein has many functions and benefits:

  • Repairs and builds muscles
  • Acts as a fuel source when burned for energy
  • Supports hair, skin and nails (as collagen) p
  • Supports development of hormones that regulate our body daily
  • Forms enzymes which then digest our food (Fun Fact: Did you know without enzymes, digesting our food would take years?)

Factors that affect protein needs

Individual protein needs can vary based on a few factors ranging from physical activity to injuries, to age or chronic conditions. The general requirement for adults is 0.8 to 1g of protein per kg of body weight. Let’s take a closer look at each factor that can affect your personalized protein requirements.

  • Age: Your protein needs change as you age and your body experiences changes in development.
  • Strength training: Strength training requires extra protein to help rebuild muscle fibers, which promotes strength and/or size, depending on your goals.
  • Endurance training: Protein requirements will increase during endurance training due to the increased need in overall calories to sustain extended periods of physical activity.
  • Overall physical activity: The more active you are, the more protein and energy you will need to support physical activity.
  • Kidney status: Those with kidney disease often have to restrict protein to preserve kidney function, while those in dialysis may have to increase protein intake to counteract the losses due to dialysis.
  • Weight management: Protein can play a part in overall satiety and balancing of blood sugar.
  • Quality of protein: Meat, fish, poultry, dairy and eggs are what we call complete proteins, meaning they have all the essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce. Plant based sources of complete proteins include edamame, quinoa, hempseed, and buckwheat. When choosing plant-based protein, it’s helpful to use complementary proteins that combine two plant-based proteins to provide all of your essential amino acids. With complementary protein pairings, one food contains the essential amino acid that the other is missing. An example is rice and beans, or peas and lentils.

Protein Dense Foods

Interested in knowing what foods provide a punch in protein? Protein is measured in grams (g). Let’s take a look at the following sources of protein and how many grams they provide.

    • Steak, 3 oz. lean sirloin steak, broiled: 26g
    • Pork, 3 oz. lean pork chop, broiled: 26g
    • Salmon, 3 oz. filet, baked or broiled: 23g
    • Chicken, 3 oz. breast, roasted: 19g
    • Greek yogurt, 1 cup plain nonfat: 18 grams
    • Skim Milk, 8 oz: 8 g
    • Tempeh, 3oz cooked: 17 grams
    • Tofu, 3oz. cooked: 16 grams
    • Peanuts, 1oz (about ¼ cup): 7g
    • Almonds, 1 oz. (about 24 nuts): 6g
    • Black beans, 1/2 cup cooked: 6g
    • Sunflower seeds, ¼ cup, kernels: 6g
    • Broccoli, 1 cup, cooked: 5g
    • Collards, 1 cup, cooked: 5g
    • Asparagus: 1 cup, cooked: 5g
    • Brussels sprouts, 1 cup, cooked: 4g
    • Broccoli, 1 cup, raw: 3g

If you eat a variety of different foods and food groups, then you’re most likely consuming enough protein. Aim for filling approximately a fourth of your plate with protein-rich foods like meat, fish, poultry, dairy, beans, peas and lentils. For vegans and vegetarians, there are also a growing number of plant-based meat, fish and chicken alternatives that provide about 14 to 21 grams of protein per serving on average, and many dairy alternatives as well. If you’re just starting to increase your protein consumption, take small steps. Good changes aren’t made overnight. If you are looking for additional support and nutrition assistance, schedule a telenutrition appointment with a Kroger Registered Dietitian today.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

High Protein Recipes

Try these recipes to incorporate more protein into your day!