While most veggies average between one to five grams of protein per serving, a cup of peas can contain up to 10 grams, making it one of the most important plant-based protein sources out there, says Mary Dan Eades, M.D., author of Protein Power. But that’s not all: Unlike other plant sources, peas also contain high levels of glutamine, an amino acid compound that helps repair your muscles after workouts, improve digestive health, and they’ve even been shown to reduce sugar and alcohol cravings. In other words, start defrosting that bag in the freezer, like, right now
2) Wild salmon
“Out of all the protein sources, I would put organic wild fish as the best protein choice out there,” says Perlmutter. Considering a five-ounce portion packs a hefty 39 grams of protein in it, we totally get why. Not to mention it’s full of omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower the risk of coronary heart disease, keep your LDL cholesterol levels in check (that’s the bad kind), and reduce inflammation. While farmed salmon has a decent amount of nutrients in it, Perlmutter says it’s worth getting the wild variety, which the USDA says has around 130 fewer calories per serving.
But we’re not just talking egg whites, people. Even though some claim there’s too much cholesterol and saturated fat in the yolk, Eades points out that the yolk is exactly where you’ll find tons of vitamins A, D, and E—stuff you’re not going to get in the whites alone. And you can’t argue with the heart healthy omega-3s, which research has shown reduces the risk of heart disease and weight problems. In other words, the whole egg is much more nutritious and contains around six grams of protein, so there’s no need to toss any of it aside.
Along with 15 grams of protein—which, we might add, is pretty darn impressive for a fruit—coconut is also high in theronine, an amino acid your body uses to prevent fat buildup in the liver and speed up recovery after a butt-busting workout. Don’t have an actual coconut handy (unless you’re on a tropical vacay, in which case we’re really jeal)? You can still reap some of the health bennies from its derivatives, like coconut flour (four grams of protein in two tablespoons), milk (five grams per cup) and butter (two grams in two tablespoons).
You can’t really argue with the numbers here: One cup of garbanzo beans equals a third of your daily protein recommendation and an impressive 19 grams of fiber. Plus, studies have shown that those who added legumes into a low-calorie diet lost about 50 percent more weight than those who didn’t because of all the slow-to-digest, plant-based fiber they contain. Our advice? Go for the hummus and baby carrots, but stick to a two tablespoon serving instead of going at it directly from the tub, as it’s way too easy to go overboard on the stuff (trust us on that one, we know from experience).
6) Cow’s Milk
Nut milks like coconut, almond, and cashew are a great way to naturally get some vitamin D (all have about 25 grams per cup), but if we’re strictly talking calories and protein here, moo milk is a top-notch source. The stuff has just 86 calories while serving up eight grams of protein in a cup (as opposed to a measly one to two grams in the nutty options), says Eades. That said, every glass of milk is definitely not created equally. To make sure you’re not being exposed to potentially harmful rBGH hormones or excessive amounts of estrogen—which research suggests is a potential link to prostate and breast cancers—Eades recommends opting for organic fat-free milk from grass-fed cows that have not been treated with hormones to play it safe.
Welp, we know what we’ll be having for lunch today. All varieties of tuna—white, albacore, yellowfin—have around 25 grams of protein and only 150 calories in a three-ounce serving, making it an easy dieting win. That said, limit your intake: Experts say it’s best to stick to less than 12 ounces of seafood per week (no more than six if you’re pregnant), to make sure you’re not overdoing it on the mercury, says Eades.
Your mom didn’t badger you to eat the stuff for nothing: The florets are super low-cal, contain about 5 grams of protein per cup, and host a laundry-list of nutrients, including filling soluble fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins K and C. And even though experts say the green veggie can sometimes be hard to digest because of their complex sugars, Katie Cavuto, M.S., a nutritionist and registered dietitian, recommends eating them with a dietary supplement (try Digest Gold) to make it easier on your tummy. So, as long as it’s not covered in cheese sauce, broccoli is, hands down, a dieting do.
Consider this yet another reason to eat that glorious piece of avocado toast in the morning. The fruit is loaded with omega-3s and beta-carotene, which helps boost your immune system, and Eades says it’s a decent source of protein at five grams per fruit. Bonus: The monounsaturated fatty acids found in the stuff has been directly linked to eating less and feeling satisfied longer, and even helps fight inflammation.
We could go on for days about why unsalted almonds are the ideal weight-loss snack, but in a nutshell, it all comes down to the mono-saturated fats that make them highly satiating without any extra calories, says Eades. To make the deal even sweeter, studies suggest that regularly eating 20 to 23 almonds (which boast around seven grams of protein) per day can help you maintain a healthy weight and decrease the odds of gaining any back due to their vitamin E, magnesium, and phytochemicals that control the fluctuations of blood glucose during digestion. In short, keep a bag of them in your desk drawer at all times.
Source: Kayla Keegan, Redbook on MSN.com Nutrition