Most people maintain a common understanding that protein is an important part of a balanced diet. But what exactly are the benefits and how can you make sure you’re getting enough?
According to naturopathic physician and registered dietitian, Jaime Schehr, N.D., R.D., “Dietary proteins are made up of amino acids, which are largely responsible for both muscle building and muscle repair,” making it especially important to eat after exercising.
Exercise aside, when combined with fats and carbohydrates, dietary protein “promotes a slower breakdown of carbs and a more steady blood sugar level,” registered dietitian Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., CDN, tells mindbodygreen.
While the actual definition of “high protein” can differ based on labeling, Cording says, “In general, for something to be high-protein, a serving needs to provide at least 20% of the recommended daily intake for protein. In the US that’s about 56 grams per day.”
While that definition can be a helpful tool in the grocery store, registered dietitian Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN, says you can also take a more general approach. “Instead of focusing on the grams of protein in each food,” she explains, “focus more on the quality and serving size of the food. And try to eat protein at every meal and snack to increase satiety.”
To spare you from mulling over nutrition labels, these are 15 of the most high-protein foods, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) food charts.