Table of Contents
Why Protein Matters
Protein is an essential building block for our bodies.
Protein breaks down in the human body into amino acids, which are an important dietary source.
There are 20 different kinds of amino acids that combine to make complete proteins for our bodies.
Proteins gained from animals and animal by-products usually have a complete protein profile comparing with plant-based proteins.
In some cases, there are ways to create your own complete protein by combining two incomplete ones.
And you do not necessarily need to eat the two incomplete together in the same meal just in the same day will do the trick.
A common duo often seen together is rice and beans.
There is a good reason that rice and beans have been a staple of the South American people for hundreds of years, together they form a complete protein, essential for our bodies.
We need protein and there is no getting around that fact.
If you want to grow a strong and healthy body, decrease body fat, as well as energize your system you need to be eating at least two full ounces a day.
The FDA recommends that men receive 56 grams of protein and women should receive 46 grams of protein a day.
Depending on what kind of diet you adhere to whether that be vegan, paleo, or you eat everything under the sun, chances are that you are in need of more protein.
Here is a list of some really tasty high protein foods that you may not have thought of to add to your diet on a daily basis.
Cocoa Powder – 2 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons
Grapefruit – 2 grams of protein per 1 fruit
Chickpeas – 2.5 grams per ½ cup
Kabocha Squash – 2.5 grams per ½ cup
Flax – 2 grams per 2 tablespoons
Peas – 8 grams per 1 cup
Spinach – 3 grams per 1 cup wilted/steamed
Russet Potato – 5 grams per 1 spud
Broccoli – 4 grams per 1 cup cooked
Brussels Sprout – 3 grams per 1 cup
Corn – 16 grams per 1 cup
Avocado – 4 grams per 1 fruit
Mushrooms – 4 grams per ½ cup
Farro Grain – 5 grams per ½ cup of cooked grain
Pomegranate – 5 grams per 1 fruit
Oats – 6 grams per 1 cup
Haricot Verts or French Beans – 6 grams per ½ cup cooked beans
Pistachio – 6.5 grams per ¼ cup
Peanuts – 19 grams per ½ cup
Black Beans – 10 grams per ¾ cup
Navy Beans – 20 g per 1 cup cooked
Forbidden Rice – 10 grams per ¼ cup
Sprouted Rye – 12.5 grams per ½ cup
Full-fat Greek Yogurt – 23 g per 1 cup
Cottage Cheese – 14 g per 1/2 cup serving
It has rich and deep flavor.
Two tablespoons of cocoa provide you with 2 grams of protein.
Use a heaping spoonful of cocoa powder in your next shake, chia pudding, or oatmeal to intensify them with chocolate flavor.
Besides giving you a dose of protein cocoa powder gives you a good dose of fiber and magnesium, both essential for building strong muscles.
Grapefruit is a gentle citrus that is naturally very sweet.
Eating a whole grapefruit give you 2 grams of protein power.
This citrus fruit not only gives you a protein boost it is also known to speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight.
Eat it by the halves with a sprinkle of oregano and salt, or add the segments to a salad with avocado.
Chickpeas are also referred to as garbanzo beans and they are the staple of delicious hummus.
Hummus packs 6 grams of protein into every ½ cup serving.
Chickpeas are also loaded with fiber and they taste great with almost any cuisine and savory flavor profile.
Use these beans to add a protein boost to your curries, stews, tacos, or roast them in cinnamon for a snack.
Kabocha Squash is deep red-orange and meaty.
Half a cup of cooked kabocha squash provides you with more than 2 grams of protein.
Roast it, boil it, or add chunks to soups and stews, this robust squash will have you feeling fine.
Flax seeds or meal, whichever you choose, this nutty little seed is a powerhouse.
2 full tablespoons of flax seeds or meal provide you with 2 awesome grams of protein.
Not only does flax load you with a gram of protein for every spoonful, but it is also full of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Sprinkle some flax meal into whatever you are baking, or blend some seeds into your morning shake.
These super sweet green nibbles not only deliver more than 4 grams of protein for every half cup, but they are delicious too.
Use fresh peas whenever possible, it will change your life.
Peas are much more palatable when they are flashed in hot water otherwise they are starchy when eaten raw.
Peas can be pureed into soups, tossed into rice dishes at the very end of cooking, or use pea protein powder to energize your shakes.
Each half-cup contains three and a half grams of protein.
Try them in the creamy fresh pea soup with mint.
Spinach is a dark green loaded with not just 3 grams of protein per cup of cooked but is also a super food.
Spinach is considered to be one of the world’s healthiest foods.
Concentrated with vitamins C, K, A, and B’s, but also folate, magnesium, and iron!
Since spinach has a subtle earthy flavor and decent water content it can be added to just about anything from smoothies to soups, eaten raw as a salad, or even added into hummus.
Spinach should be your new best friend.
Russet Potatoes are an unexpected source of protein as they are always seen as the starchiest of the starches.
1 spud give you 5 grams of protein power.
These potatoes are also loaded with iron.
And they are so tasty when baked and topped with a large helping of garlic sautéed spinach.
Broccoli florets are loaded with fiber yes, but also more than 2 grams of protein for each half cup.
What better food to dip into a rich bowl of hummus than delicate little tree shapes of broccoli.
Broccoli is also extra tasty steamed and topped with butter or cheese.
It looks like tiny cabbages and may smell a little acrid when steamed but they give you 2 grams of protein for every ½ cup you consume.
Brussels sprout is also rich in potassium and vitamin K.
Slice these little green gems thin and roast them with garlic and bacon and you’ll never feel the same way about them again.
Corn is used so often in modern society from sweeting our drinks, making tortillas, and the starch is used as a thickener.
But these sweet little kernels also pack in some major protein at 8 grams for every ½ cup!
Grill it Mexican style and enjoy it with rice and beans, now that is a protein packed meal.
Avocados are such a creamy and versatile food that is loaded with good for you fats.
This blackened skinned fruit has a heart of gold.
Avocados give you 4 grams of protein per fruit.
Bake them and stuff them full of salsa or use them as a base for vegan desserts in place of eggs.
Mushrooms have been used in place of meat by vegetarians and vegans alike for some years now as they are known to be filling and protein packed.
For 1 cup of mushrooms, especially meaty portabellas you receive 4 grams of protein and only 42 calories!
Farro grains is often referred to as an ancient or heirloom grain, meaning that its molecular structure has been left untouched by time, making it a very clean and unrefined grain to consume.
Cooking up half a cup of this chewy grain will give you 5 whole grams of protein and 25 grams of carbohydrates.
Quinoa, Spelt, amaranth, teff, and Ezekiel are close cousins of farro and give you similar benefits when it comes to protein from a grain.
Pomegranates are tart and sweet at the same time.
Clean them under water to keep the juice from dying fabric.
Referred to as the fruit of fertility, eating the pearls of a pomegranate gives you 5 grams of clean protein.
Drinking bottled pomegranate juices, are loaded with sugar and are not as beneficial to consume.
Oats are such a versatile grain and the main staple for many cultures dating back to the Gaelic of Ireland.
Not only are oats high in fiber they also pack 6 grams of protein into every cup.
That is as much protein as 1 egg!
Whether you eat them quick, boiled, soaked overnight, or added to baked goods or as a filler in meatloaf, oats are versatile and delicious.
Haricot vert is a petite French green bean.
Green beans also give the same protein benefits of 6 grams per ½ cup of cooked vegetable.
They may be French, but green beans will keep you lean with a solid gram of vegetable protein for every 18 calories you consume.
A quarter cup of pistachios delivers you with 6.5 grams of protein.
Nuts are known for their protein power, but pistachios are known for helping to keep your metabolism function at a high rate.
Peanuts are not a nut at all and pack 3 more grams of protein in every ¼ cup than actual nuts such as pistachios, cashews, and even almonds.
Obviously, if you are on a paleo diet, these legumes are out, but they are extremely tasty.
Peanuts are also packed with folate, which has been proven to improve your mood.
Black beans really are a magical fruit.
Black beans are high in fiber, butyrate, and folic acid as well as delivering 10 grams of protein for every ¾ cup consumed.
Beans also help to regulate body fat, and when combined with certain grains like rice, they become a full and complete protein which is essential for our bodies.
Navy beans deliver 13 grams of fiber per cup.
For every cup of navy beans, you eat they give you 20 grams of powerful protein.
These legumes make great hummus, soups, or alone with a ham-hock and left to plump.
Forbidden rice has a higher fiber content than traditional brown rice.
Once upon a time only the most elite such as emperors were allowed to consume the forbidden black rice.
This creamy and glossy rice is packed with 10 grams of protein per ½ cup of cooked rice.
Sprouted rye is a chewy and flavorful grain.
Soak this grain overnight in water, and let it sprout a bit before boiling the next day and the result will give you almost 13 grams of protein for every ½ cup eaten.
Rye bread is also a good option, and pumpernickel bread usually has a good portion of rye in the dough.
This chewy grain is a great sub for rice.
Greek yogurt is rich and decadent.
This powerful dairy product is a thick and creamy variety that is high in fats, calcium, a third less sugar than other yogurts, and delivers 23 grams of protein for just 1 cup consumed.
Yogurts are also used for their probiotic bacterial benefits to assist a healthy gut.
Cottage cheese delivers you with 14 loaded grams of protein for only a ½ a cup!
Another dairy product favorite, cottage cheese has loads of the slow burning protein called casein.
Cottage cheese can be high in sodium, but it is loaded with amino acids.
Enjoy this creamy curd cheese as a dip for sliced cucumbers, crackers, or bell peppers.
There are so many surprising sources of protein in many foods not even listed here.
Plant-based sources are a great way to add more protein to your meat-centric meals.
Dairy protein sources are a great stand alone for snacks or quick breakfasts.
This High Protein Vegetarian Chili is a great start to a tasty protein meal (2).
Add and sub as many vegetables, grains, and legumes from this list and you will have the ultimate meal.
Top it off with some Greek yogurt and some cottage cheese and it will be like eating as much protein as an 18-ounce steak!