When you’re trying to diet, most experts and health books will tell you the same thing: cut excess carbohydrates, sugars, and proteins. You can easily reduce carbs by cutting down on your bread intake and eating less starchy foods, substituting them with fruit and vegetables. You can also easily avoid sugars like candy, sodas, and sweet confectionary delights if you have the discipline to go on without them. The books on low carb and low sugar diets are endless, and healthier food options are advertised all over the grocery store.
But what about healthier sources of protein?
Protein is in many ways a highly overlooked aspect of dietary health. People assume that if they regulate their carb and sugar intake well enough that they can eat just about any meat and are just fine. But the truth is that you need healthy sources of protein to maintain a diet that suitable for a strong body, just like you need healthy sources of carbs, sugars, and other nutritional basics. Proteins are made up of amino acids, some of which our bodies produce naturally. But there are amino acids that we don’t produce that must be supplemented by a protein-rich diet. These amino acids can come from many different foods—there isn’t one catch-all food that will give us all the protein we need. So even though a hamburger is rich in some proteins, you couldn’t hope to eat a hamburger a day for your sole protein intake. The same is true for any cut of red meat.
So where else can you get your protein?
There are a variety of foods outside of meats that offer a rich bounty of protein. For instance, a cup of thick Greek yogurt offers as much as 20 grams of protein, which is no small amount considering that the average person should consume about 50 grams of protein a day. Greek yogurt is high in natural proteins because it is so concentrated in structure, rich in amino acids that make up the proteins in a typical cup of yogurt. Most nuts also contain essential amino acids that your body needs to carry out normal metabolic functions. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts are packed in essential proteins (and electrolytes) that are good for your body. Beans of all types also provide ample protein, which is why you’ll see many vegetarians substituting a typical hamburger patty with a patty made from beans.
Of course, I’m not trying to encourage a meat-free lifestyle. Meats are rich in proteins as we all know. Beef, poultry, and fish provide ample proteins, but my point is that we should not expect for meat to be our sole source. Doing so denies our bodies of essential nutrition. And if you’re trying to work for a better figure and overall wellness, you’d do well to monitor your protein intake just as well as you do with those carbs.
What healthy proteins do you enjoy in your diet?