Whether you’ve just had a gastric balloon procedure or simply interested in learning healthier eating habits, you’ve likely heard that a diet rich in protein is key for weight loss success. Protein is a superstar when it comes to weight loss. It is a rich energy source that has been proven to satisfy hunger longer than any other type of food source. And we all know that anything that will keep those hunger pangs appeased is important when trying to avoid those merciless cravings.
Protein is also essential for increasing your lean muscle mass which in turn improves your metabolism, the process that makes calorie burning more efficient. Muscles are beautiful metabolism machines and actually burn calories when you’re at rest. Can I get a “Hooray!”? In addition to increasing your metabolism, muscles also protects your bones and help prevent injuries. They also look pretty good on you too!
Certain foods pack more protein than others helping you get to your weight loss goals faster.
Here are few that should be a regular on your grocery list and menu:
No surprise here. Chicken thankfully is easy to come by and there is no shortage of healthy ways to fix it. A skinless, boneless breast of chicken will give you a whooping 26 grams of protein for about 130 calories depending on how you cook it. It’s tasty, versatile and extremely satisfying.
Like chicken, eggs are another easy way to get a good amount of protein. Two large eggs will get you about 14 grams of calories for just 140 calories. The protein and fat in the yolks will keep glucose levels nice and stable which in turn keeps cravings at bay. Eggs are a great way to start the day or can be easily fixed as an afternoon or late night snack. There are endless ways to fix them so let your creative juices run wild or you can just them boil them.
Wild-caught salmon is the best if you can get your hands on some. Wild salmon is about 32% less calories than farmed salmon and just three ounces of it delivers 22g protein and about 155 calories. Additionally, salmon is packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids that are known to boost fat-burning processes and stave off cravings. Salmon is also high in B vitamins, potassium, antioxidants and other good-for-you nutrients.
Another great source of those fat-burning omega-3s and protein is tuna. A 3-ounce portion of canned tuna packs 16 grams of protein without breaking the bank. A can of tuna usually runs around $2 a can and stores nicely for an extended period of time. Canned tuna is a staple for weight loss. A piece of advice though: think twice before eating it for lunch at work, you may be sitting alone. You’re welcome.
A tasty pork tenderloin can easily give you a solid 26 grams of protein for just about 160 calories. Pork tenderloin is always an excellent choice for a nice meal without making you feel like you’re dieting. There are also several studies out there which show that those who ate 6 ounces of pork tenderloin daily were more likely to maintain lean muscle mass and lose more weight than those who did not eat lean pork.
Lentils are legumes like peas and beans. They aren’t super common in our western diet but are amazing little powerhouses of protein. One cup of cooked lentils will provide 18 grams of protein. They also pack in a huge amount of fiber, about 15 grams which will help slow digestion and keep you feeling full longer. Lentils can be found pre-packaged or in dry form at your local grocery store. Unlike beans, they don’t have to be presoaked and are easily cooked by boiling. Add a little garlic, cumin or other seasoning and they make a great addition to any meal, especially soups and salads.
Just one cup of low-fat cottage cheese can deliver 28g of satisfying protein for just 163 calories. That’s more protein than a chicken breast! In addition to being a protein champ, it’s inexpensive and requires no preparation unless you want to get creative. It’s also great in smoothies, by the way. Know a health nut? I bet cottage cheese is in their fridge.
So now to eat healthy, stock up on protein, treat it like the weight loss superstar it is and get a little bit of it in every meal. You’ll be a believer in no time!