High Protein Foods: Better Choices for a Better Body

High Protein Foods

High Protein Foods

If you mention the words “high protein” to most people, they may start drooling at the thought of a big juicy steak. If you mention protein snacks to an athlete, he will picture an ice-cold protein shake. A teen will grab a glass of milk along with her peanut butter sandwich. All three correctly understand which foods contain protein, but they all might be dancing around the high protein foods question the wrong way.

If real estate is all about location, then food is about presentation. That juicy steak wouldn’t be so bad if it was lean, but marble that baby with fat and you have a calorie bomb. Guzzle down too many protein shakes and you may find yourself lacking enough fiber. Overindulge in peanut butter sandwiches and you can find yourself gaining weight like nobody’s business.

Protein’s Role

To know how to eat foods high in protein correctly, you have to know what they are and what they do. Proteins are building blocks that live on the cellular level. They contain amino acids, nutrients that do not live in the body, cannot be manufactured by it, and must be gotten somewhere else.

Twenty kinds of amino acids can reside in a protein molecule. The combination of amino acids determines what the protein does. Some proteins make enzymes, which have to do with chemical reactions in the cells. Some proteins make antibodies, which fight off diseases entering the body. Some proteins make hormones, while others build the structure of the cells.

  • Proteins do things you will recognize in and on your body.
  • Proteins build and repair body tissues, like muscle.
  • Enzymes, hormones, and immune molecules are proteins.
  • Bodily processes such as water processing, nutrient transport, and muscle contractions need protein to function.
  • Protein helps keep skin, hair, and nails healthy.

If you flex your muscles, the muscles move. Thank a protein for that, because it enabled the muscle to move. Indeed, hair, skin and nails are made of proteins, while the blood, water and oxygen move throughout the body, thanks to proteins.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Proteins are clearly good for your health. However, the protein choices you make can be bad for you. If you automatically eat a big steak at dinner every night, you’re probably getting a lot more protein than you need, along with excess fat calories your waistline doesn’t need. If you feel compelled to drink protein shakes to build muscle, you might be shooting yourself in the foot.

The Call of Nature

Processed foods take longer to be used in the body. The processing stuff is stored in the colon until it passes. Natural foods eaten in a high protein diet process quicker, getting used instead of stored. Snacking on high protein foods like nuts, oatmeal, peanut butter, or tuna is better because they add healthier fats to your diet. So the athlete’s protein shake may not be as helpful as he thinks.

Healthy Snacks

While athletes may need extra protein, for most of us, the teen actually has it right, as long as she tweaks it to certain specifications. A glass of milk and peanut butter sandwich are excellent choices so long as the sandwich is made with whole wheat bread. And so long as she drinks just one serving of milk, she’s on the right track.

You need about .4 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. So, a 200-pound man needs about 80 grams of protein. That might sound like a lot, but there’s protein hiding in many foods that you might not notice. The teen’s snack alone had about 20 grams of protein. Most meats have about 7 grams of protein per ounce. A big juicy 6-ounce steak has almost half of your daily protein needs. Knowing this, you can make smarter protein choices.

Honestly, I can’t get enough peanut butter. I stick to the all-natural stuff because most store brands contain unnecessary sugars. What is your favorite source of protein?