By Chris Gronkowski
Using protein shakes as meal replacements is a great way to ensure you’re consuming enough protein while cutting down calories, particularly for those looking to lose weight.
But, it’s extremely important to ensure that your body is still getting protein from other food sources. People who try to replace most or all of their meals with protein shakes are eliminating other essential elements their bodies need to function. If you’re using protein shakes as meal replacements, try drinking just one shake per day and integrating some of these other high-protein energy-rich foods between meal replacements.
When we hear the word “fat” in connection with different types of food, we’re conditioned to believe that these foods are bad for our health when in fact, many items high in certain types of fat are very nutritious and an integral part of a healthy diet. The most common fatty fish include salmon, tuna, herring and mackerel, and the American Heart Association recommends consuming one of these types of fish at least two times per week.
Not only are these fish high in good fats, but they also pack in a lot of protein to keep you energized throughout the day and help with muscle growth. Fatty fish tend to get a lot of attention for being high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which promote a healthy heart by lowering blood pressure, reducing plaque build-up in your arteries and diminishing the chance of heart disease.
There has been some debate amongst nutritionists in recent years about the benefits and disadvantages of consuming eggs as a source of protein. Though it’s true that egg yolks are high in cholesterol, studies have shown that this is actually good cholesterol. Like with fats, there are both good and bad types of cholesterol, and while eggs contain this good type of cholesterol called HDL (high-density lipoprotein), you should still avoid over-consuming.
Adding up to three eggs per day into your diet will prevent you from taking in too much cholesterol while providing your body with a plethora of health benefits. High in protein, eggs are the perfect morning meal to get your body fueled up for the day, or they can make a great mid-day snack when hard-boiled. Aside from the energy you gain from consuming eggs, you’ll also be increasing your muscle mass, strengthening your bones, decreasing your chance of eye disease and satiating your hunger for an extended period of time, which is essential when dieting for the sake of losing weight.
Chicken or Turkey Breast
Packed with all the essential amino acids, both chicken and turkey breast are great sources of protein for lunch or dinner. While you do not need to avoid red meat like steak and ground beef altogether, you should limit your consumption as too much red meat has been linked to heart disease later in life. Replacing red meat with lean meats like chicken and turkey can help your body consume enough protein without negative effects. Try eating grilled chicken or ground turkey to boost your protein intake and cut down on calories if your fitness goal includes losing weight.
A type of grain, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is commonly mistaken to be similar to rice or pasta, but in fact this notoriously healthy food item is very different from other grains. High in protein and fiber, quinoa is a versatile ingredient that is gluten-free and includes a list of essential nutrients like manganese, magnesium, zinc and iron, among others. This nutritious and delicious food is easy to incorporate into any meal. Add some quinoa to a typical salad for a protein boost, mix with veggies and spices for a tasty quinoa salad or just enjoy it plain.
Lentils are an excellent source of protein that are low in fat while providing your body with fiber and important minerals like B vitamins and iron. When trying to lose weight, incorporating foods that are low in calories but good at satiating hunger can help you to burn more calories without leaving you hungry. It’s easy to add lentils as a side dish or make them the main course by adding to soups and salads.
Though rice is often thought of as empty calories, brown rice is very healthy and helps your body with crucial processes like breaking down protein and carbohydrates. Though not particularly high in protein, brown rice can be mixed with other high-protein foods and help energize you.
Avocado has received a lot attention as of late for this superfood’s nearly endless list of health benefits. Though they do not contain much protein, avocados are very high in good fats and more than a dozen important vitamins and minerals. Pairing an avocado with a protein like chicken and a healthy grain or leafy greens can create a nutritious meal low in calories. An easy way to incorporate avocados into your breakfast, avocado toast topped with an egg and eaten with a protein shake in your Ice Shaker will boost your metabolism in the morning and provide you with plenty of energy for the day.
Veggies are not known to be high in protein in general, but they are still a necessary part of a healthy diet, especially when dieting. You can consume tons of vegetables in a day without taking in too many calories, and broccoli is an excellent source of minerals including fiber, vitamin B6 and vitamin E. It’s also one of the veggies known to be higher in protein, so it’s the perfect complement to any meal.
When dieting for weight loss, most nutritionists recommend breaking your meals into smaller portions and consuming several high-protein, healthy snacks throughout the day (at least two to three times). Nuts are one of the best snacks to munch on because they give you energy while also providing protein and making you feel full. Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews and pistachios are ranked as the nuts with the highest protein content. Grab a handful of any of these healthy treats or sprinkle them into salads or atop pizza for an extra boost.
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