lean protein foods

Top 10 FRESH Protein Foods {and How to Eat More!}

Why are proteins so important for your health?

Each cell in our body holds protein and we cannot live without it. Protein sustains our bodies by building and repairing tissues, and is an important part in the building of muscles and bones.

As Dr Mark Hyman explains - “Protein provides us with the building blocks of life—helping us make muscle, connective tissue, hair, blood, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and more. Clearly, it’s important that we’re eating enough of this essential macronutrient if we want to feel strong, energized, and healthy.”

OK, So how much should I be eating?

In recent years, an unbalanced view of protein has developed, partially due to the numerous fundamental diets that have risen in popularity, touting a diet of high protein as necessary for everything from bodybuilding to weight loss. It’s important to note in this article that here at FRESH Start, we are neither a diet nor a fundamental fitness plan - we believe in balance, individual intuition-led eating, and eating the amount of protein that YOU NEED for your particular goals and needs!

That said, there is a “suggested range” of daily protein intake that we need for just “normal living” …

- now, this is obviously for those who are either somewhat sedentary or not aggressively working out.

(So this would be different from someone who is bodybuilding, working out an hour or more daily, or even, like in my case, is deficient in protein due to a chronic illness, etc)

The general idea is that we need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.

(Above paragraph taken from this article on Healthline. com)

No matter the amount you choose to eat for your needs, it is a good idea to eat it in small amounts throughout the day, as protein is a filling nutrient.

Combine Food Groups for better Results!

“Food combining,” or including some type of protein WITH healthy fibrous foods and a healthy fat with every meal or mini-meal is powerful for your nutritional needs. It’s been discovered that this helps the body to properly break down the food, and absorb more of the benefits, as well as stabilize our blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates from our foods provide the fuel and energy we need. Proteins are the building blocks of our cell structure. If carbohydrates are not available, the body will burn through the proteins and not ingest and put them to use properly.

The goal then, is to get more protein-rich foods in your body, more often, along with the other major food groups at the same time for optimal digestion!

Here’s a list of our top protein-rich foods, the nutritional benefits they contain, as well as ideas on how to eat more of them!

our top 10 FRESH proteins:

1. Chicken Breast

a 3.5 oz. chicken breast contains 30 grams protein - wow! - but they’re also full of phosphorus, an essential mineral that helps your teeth and bones, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system function

  • add grilled chicken to your salads

  • grill chicken and mangos for a yummy lettuce wrap

2. Salmon

high in essential fatty acids, and contains one of the highest protein loads in an animal protein - but also rich in B vitamins and selenium, 2 of the vitamins your body strongly needs for mental health

3. Eggs

versatile source of protein, rich in B-complex vitamin choline, which reduces inflammation

  • prepare a yummy omelet with veggies sauteed in a tsp of healthy fat, like olive or coconut oil for a power breakfast

  • keep a few boiled eggs in the refrigerator - add to salad or for a quick sandwich snack

4. Avocado

as well as lean protein, contain excess of 25 essential nutrients for your health, including vitamin A, B, C, E, & K, copper, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium AND is a healthy fat!

  • add sliced avocado to any sandwich or salad

  • serve sliced avocado along-side scrambled eggs

5. Beans & Legumes

high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Helps with weight management and to decrease the risk of diabetes and heart disease

  • Make homemade hummus out of chickpeas

  • Add to salads or toss with veggies

  • Add black beans to taco meat

6. Greek Yogurt

yogurt and chia and blueberries cropped.jpg

high in protein (2x as much as regular yogurt!) has less lactic acid than other dairy, which makes it easier to digest and truly absorb the nutritional benefits to your body. (People who can’t digest other dairy can often digest Greek Yogurt with no problem.)

Greek Yogurt contains live microorganisms, or probiotics, which are good bacteria that we’re often deficient in. They are healing to your gut lining and help improve your immune system, and even, help reduce side effects of antibiotic treatments!

  • add 1/2 cup greek yogurt to your morning smoothie for a balanced, whole-food protein boost instead of processed powder

  • stir 1 Tbsp chia seeds into 1/2 cup as an energy-giving power snack

7. Nuts and Seeds

(example: Almonds, Cashews, and Chia Seeds)

As tiny as these nutritional powerhouses are, they contain a large amount of vitamins, minerals and fats in addition to digestible protein for your body’s needs! The fats in them are the right kind (in moderation of course) and help keep down inflammation, maintaining the normal structure of every cell in your body.

  • Sprinkle a tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flaxseed over a yogurt parfait or in your daily smoothie for an energy boost!

  • Pre-portion 1 ounce of raw, lightly or unsalted nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts or cashews into little bags for quick grab and go power snacks!

8.Sirloin Steak

good source of protein and other vitamins and minerals such as  B12 and Zinc

  • serve in a quickie stir-fry with broccoli, green onion, soy sauce, & cooked brown rice

  • try it just seasoned and grilled with a baked sweet potato

9. Ground, Lean (93/7) Turkey and/or Beef

not only super high in hefty protein, but low on the “bad fats” and nutrient-packed with iron, other minerals, and vitamins B12 & D

  • grill patties and serve on a whole wheat bun or pita piled with veggies

  • make a low-sodium taco mix with black beans and sweet corn & serve in tacos al carbon (warmed, not fried) or over a lush green salad

10. Quinoa

Cilantro lemon  quinoa edited.jpg

contains all 9 essential amino acids (one of the only foods that does!) and is a great source of riboflavin

  • quinoa-stuffed vegetables

  • try it with maple syrup and nuts for a yummy breakfast or snack

  • spoon over a spinach salad for added crunchy, chewy vegetarian protein!

It just takes a little planning and creativity to include more of these lean proteins in your daily diet!

The possibilities are endless!

Share some of your favorite ideas and recipes for these foods by commenting on this post or visit us on our Facebook page to share!