Whether you’re working out to lose weight or gain weight, protein is a vitally important component. You need protein to rebuild muscle and to maintain a high energy level if you’re counting calories or just burning a lot during a weight routine.
In fact, most would recommend that you need to eat the same amount of protein in grams per day as your body weight.
That can be tough, especially if you’re not sold on the protein powders and “power” bars that you see popping up next to the vitamin sections in most department stores.
I would argue that you don’t need to be onboard with the protein powder craze to get the amount of protein you need. Instead, we need to identify the foods we enjoy and eat on a regular basis that are packed with enough protein to rebuild our muscles and keep us feeling full and energized.
These foods are all packed with protein and should be staples of your workout diet.
1. Cottage Cheese – Just one cup of cottage cheese will net you 32 grams of protein, giving it nearly a 1 to 5 protein to calorie ratio. Cottage cheese is also low in fat and is one of the easiest things in the world to prepare and eat. All you really need is a spoon, and you can add fresh tomatoes and oregano to liven up the flavor.
2. Kidney Beans and White Beans – Kidney beans and white beans both have anywhere from 15-20 grams of protein per cup. Black beans fall only slightly short of that estimate and are also an excellent source of protein.
3. Skim Milk – Part of the benefit of using milk to get the protein you need is that it’s incredibly easy. Just one cup will net you 8 grams of protein, making it a great compliment to a meal, especially if you’re trying to get that last little amount of protein that you need in a day.
4. Chicken (White Meat) – The versatility of chicken is part of what makes it a great go-to solution for your daily protein needs. Avoiding dark meat and the skin is important, but the white meat from chicken is good for a whopping 35 grams of protein for every 4 ounces.
5. Turkey Breast – The same rules apply for turkey as they do for chicken. Go for the white meat, avoid the skin and you’ll be getting around 30 grams of protein for every four ounces.
6. Salmon – In addition to the benefits of omega 3 and 6, you’re getting 17 grams of protein per 3 ounce serving of salmon, which is an excellent ratio. Though it can be a little more complex in terms of preparation, salmon is a great dinner or late meal solution and usually keeps leftover for a day or two.
7. Eggs – Eggs are a popular choice for those who want to start their day out with some protein. The protein mostly comes from the egg whites, which get you 26 grams of protein for every one cup.
8. Mozzarella Cheese –Usually this will come in the form of string cheese, which can make a great snack for the middle of the morning or afternoon. For every 1 ounce of mozzarella you get 6 grams of protein.
9. Pork Chops – If you trim the fat from a pork chop, they’re a surprisingly healthy meat. The average pork chop delivers a little over 20 grams of protein. Though pork typically isn’t preferred over chicken and turkey, it can be a nice change of pace, especially if you don’t like fish.
10. Peanuts and Almonds – As long as you don’t have an allergy nuts can be an incredible source of protein for you. A quarter cup of almonds has 8 grams of protein, while a quarter cup of peanuts has 9. A whole cup of either easily beats out the pork chop in terms of protein, and is also a lot easier to prepare.