Protein is an essential nutrient needed by our body for proper functioning of various bodily systems. The multiple functions that this nutrient helps perform include building tissues, cells, muscles, hormones and antibodies. A high protein intake can help with weight loss, increased muscle mass and improved health. When eating a meal, eat the protein source first, especially before you get the starches. Protein increases the production of PYY, a gut hormone that makes you feel full and satisfied for long. In addition, a high protein intake decreases levels of the ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin and increases metabolic rate.

Everyone needs normal quantity of protein in their diet but athletes and weight lifters require more protein intake than usual. Generally, a daily dose of 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kg of body weight is recommended for a normal person. But for athletes and weight lifters, 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per kg of body weight is required per day. For most of us, a daily protein requirement can be fulfilled by incorporating a healthy and balanced diet including protein from both plant and animal source.

Here are foods which contain protein in ample amount:

Paneer

Paneer is a powerhouse of protein. The amount of protein in paneer depends upon the source of milk from which it is made of. For example, if paneer is made out of cow’s milk, it contains high amount of protein. Paneer derived from full cream milk contains high amount of fat too. If you want to reduce fat content, use paneer made of low-fat or fat-free milk. Besides being a protein-rich food, paneer contains almost all essential minerals like calcium, magnesium etc. However it does not contain iron. The high protein content of paneer helps slow release of sugar into the blood and thus maintains blood sugar levels. Due to the high protein content, one can keep himself satisfied for long by keeping hunger pangs at bay. Weight-watchers can eat low-fat paneer to get effective results. 100 grams of paneer contains 18.3 grams of protein.

Tofu

Tofu is made from soybean milk and it looks similar to paneer. Not only a good source of protein, tofu contains all nine amino-acids. In addition, it is also a good source of iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorus and vitamin B1. 100 grams serving of tofu offers eight grams of protein. Being high in protein and low in calories, tofu may have positive effect on blood sugar control. Soy is the prime content of tofu. It is a complete source of dietary protein which means it provides all of the essential amino-acids needed by the body. Soy protein can enhance renal function and it can benefit people undergoing dialysis or kidney transplantation.

Kidney beans

It is a major source of vegan protein throughout the world. Raw and uncooked kidney beans are toxic, but well-cooked kidney beans can be a healthy component of a well-balanced diet. 100 grams of kidney beans boast almost nine grams of protein. They are one of the richest plant-based sources of protein and are affordable alternative to expensive animal protein. They are thus referred to as ‘poor man’s meat’. Fibre and protein in kidney beans may contribute to the beneficial effects on weight-loss. They are also very effective at maintaining healthy levels of blood sugar being rich in protein. Besides protein, kidney beans also contain various minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and other unique plant compounds.

Fish

Fish has protein and sometimes a lot of protein. It depends on the type of fish. Tuna, yellowtail, snapper, trout, Coho salmon, blue fish, pollock and tilapia are ranked as the highest protein fish according to USDA Nutrient Database. They are almost pure protein food yet low in calories and fat. Because these fish are loaded with protein, they are incredibly filling. For this reason, they are also among the most weight-loss friendly foods.

Chicken

Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein. One ounce of skinless chicken has approximately seven grams of protein when cooked. It also contains some fat but not too much. Chicken gives you high quality protein, along with B vitamins and selenium. Prepare your chicken in a healthy way. Because it is a lean meat, it does not put you at risk of high cholesterol. You just have to do away with all the creamy gravies and rich sauces. Chicken helps you keep full for a longer time and helps body burn fats more efficiently. Eat local farm-raised good quality chicken. Avoid chicken that comes in packets or frozen form as it is loaded with preservatives and it contains less nutrients.

These protein-rich foods are great for marinating, roasting, grilling, stir fry, soups and salads. These foods have the potential to become your go-to protein food choices to protect yourself against a variety of health conditions, such as diabetes obesity etc.

Spread your protein intake out throughout the day. Eat high protein breakfasts, high protein lunches and high protein dinners.