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The Best Protein Sources

Protein is important but so are carbohydrates, fats, and total calories.

For a higher protein diet, include lean and low-fat sources of protein at every meal as part of a calorie-controlled diet. You should also stock up on "smart carbs" such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

Also try healthy fats such as:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Olives
  • Oils
  • Fish
  • Avocado

Not all protein is created equal. Be sure to look for protein sources that are nutrient-rich and lower in fat and calories, such as:

  • Lean meats
  • Beans
  • Soy
  • Low-fat dairy

Here are some good sources of protein, as listed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Food

Protein

grams

1 ounce meat, fish, poultry

7

1 large egg

6

4 ounces milk

4

4 ounces low-fat yogurt

6

4 ounces soy milk

5

3 ounces tofu, firm

13

1 ounce cheese

7

1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese

14

1/2 cup cooked kidney beans

7

1/2 cup lentils

9

1 ounce nuts

7

2 tablespoons peanut butter

8

1/2 cup vegetables

2

1 slice bread

2

1/2 cup of most grains/pastas

2

Ways to Pump Up the Protein

If you'd like to start including more lean protein in your daily diet, try these simple tips if you do not have issues with dairy products:

  • Take yogurt with you to the gym and enjoy it as a post-workout booster.
  • Make your breakfast oatmeal with milk instead of water.
  • Snack on fat-free mozzarella cheese.
  • Use a whole cup of milk on your cereal.
  • Try smoked salmon or one of the new lean sausages for breakfast.
  • Take along a hard-boiled egg for an easy snack.
  • Munch on edamame beans at meals and snacks.
  • Choose round or tenderloin cuts of meat.