Can you make it from meal to meal without snacking? Or perhaps you’re finding that the suggested serving sizes of your meals aren’t enough to keep you going? If these questions seem all too familiar, let’s examine your protein intake and find the answer to this question: What are some lean proteins that are right for you?
Staying satiated may not come down to how many grams of proteins or calories you eat in a given meal. You may not be choosing the right protein sources to keep you full and happy.
What are some healthy protein options? Check out these animal and plant-based protein sources that provide plenty of this important nutrient.
What Are Some Lean Proteins That Are Healthy? Animal And Plant-Based Proteins
If you focus on building and maintaining lean muscle, you may have heard all there is to know about protein. You might also know that you need the amino acids in protein to assist with critical functions in your body.
But, do you know how to locate the best sources of protein? And when you think of lean protein sources, can you come up with foods other than fish, chicken, or turkey?
But is that all there is? Absolutely not. So why limit your menu to just these few foods?
Knowing Your Fats Can Help You Choose Your Proteins
When it comes to eating healthy protein, it’s important to understand the different types of fats and how they might affect your health. Certain fats, like saturated fats and trans fats can lead to heart disease, and other gnarly issues.1
But just because you should limit your intake of saturated and trans fats doesn’t mean that you should only consume low-fat products.
That’s because there are beneficial fats. For instance, UNsaturated fats (like omega-3 fatty acids) are found in wild-caught fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are actually an essential nutrient. Studies report omega-3 fatty acids can help —
- Support heart health
- Support cholesterol health
- And more2
Lean Eating From An Animal Source Of Protein: Grass-Fed Beef, Pasture-Raised Poultry, And Wild-Caught Fish
Grass-Fed Beef. Do you enjoy red meat? Who doesn’t love a juicy steak from time to time? However, you’ve got to know what type of meat to choose.
When you consume any kind of animal protein, the nutrients(or antinutrients) in the plants the animal ate pass into your body and assimilate all the way into your cells. And since your cells are the building blocks of every part of your body, it’s imperative to know how the food you’re eating was raised. Many animals are fed unhealthy fillers like corn and soy products – and you don’t want those fillers in your body. So, you want to look for meat from cows that have been “grass fed.” However, even if you read “grass-fed” on a butcher’s label, that could mean the animal merely was fed some grass at some point – but still loaded with fillers. So to be sure you’re getting the leanest, cleanest red meat – be sure to look for “100% Grass Fed” before you buy.
But even if you do find “100% grass-fed” beef, it doesn’t mean you should add it to your daily diet. Eat red meat in moderation – meaning no large portions and not too often. Why?
It turns out there’s growing evidence that high consumption of red meat — especially processed red meat — can increase your risk for some major health issues.3
Keep your portion size down to 3 ounces when eating even lean cuts of red meat. A 3 ounce cut of steak should be smaller than your tightly clenched fist. Also, always trim off and dispose of any excess fat from your steak.
Finally, when you head to the deli counter, ask for the following leaner cuts of “100% grass-fed” red meat:
Poultry. Eggs are a fabulous option for lean protein. Why? Well, the egg is a wonderful source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and a heap of healthy micronutrients. Especially when accompanied by vegetables, legumes, and lean meats or fish, eggs can be the perfect staple for a lean protein diet.4
Furthermore, eggs don’t really hike up your calorie count, they’re versatile, and they won’t break the bank.
Wild-Caught Fish. Wild-caught fish and shellfish are great animal proteins to allow in your diet.
Wild-caught fish and shellfish are great choices because they’re high in omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.5
Here’s a list of some great choices when it comes to wild-caught fish and shellfish:
- Freshwater bass
- Alaskan salmon
- Alaskan halibut
- Hawaiian fish
Healthy Plant-Based Protein: Beans, Seeds, Legumes, And Nut Butters
Despite what you may think, plant-based foods can be loaded with protein – and pack the added benefits of all these essential nutrients into every ounce:
- Dietary fiber
When you’re looking for new lean plant protein options, try out the following foods:
- Almond butter
- Peanut butter
- Walnut butter
- Sunflower seeds
The best thing about the foods listed above is that they can easily be incorporated in your favorite breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
At breakfast, you can top your oatmeal with nuts like almonds or pistachios. Or you can prep your morning eggs however you like.
Salads are a great way to get eggs, chicken, or fish onto your plate. Just lay down your greens and top them with your favorite lean protein. Bonus points for you if you dress your salad in extra virgin olive oil (high in those special omega-3 fatty acids, remember).
Quick Guide to Healthy Protein Sources
Take comfort in knowing you can find all of these excellent lean proteins at your local grocer. Another great place to look for fresh, healthy proteins is your neighborhood farmer’s market.
And remember: A healthy diet isn’t all about counting calories or depriving yourself of calories, it’s about consuming the right foods. Once you establish better healthy protein habits, your body will thank you with fewer cravings between meals which will make it easier to manage your weight.
Plus, when you shake your menu up with different types of lean proteins each week your taste buds will thank you too.
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