Protein is an essential macronutrient that’s found in every cell in your body. It plays a role in everything from your hormone levels to your energy to building and repairing your muscles and bones. Getting enough – and the right type – of protein in your diet is a must to keep your body functioning properly. Not all protein foods are created equal though, and we’re letting you in on what to know about lean protein vs fat protein, what protein foods are the most beneficial and 20 foods to eat and avoid.
What is Protein and Why Is It Important?
Protein is an essential part of your diet. Every cell in the human body contains protein, meaning you need it to help your body repair cells and make new ones. It’s crucial to get lean sources of protein in your diet everyday. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage and skin and is a critical part of processes that fuel your energy. It helps carry oxygen throughout the body and helps supply your entire body with nutrients it needs. Dietary protein also helps with digesting food and making new cells and body chemicals. It also plays an important role in hormone regulation, especially during the transformation and development of cells during puberty.
Protein is made from basic building blocks called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids, and nine of them are known as essential amino acids and must come from food. You need to include enough of these in your diet for your body to function properly.
Eating high protein foods can also help you stay in shape and maintain a healthy weight. Protein fills you up faster and helps keep you full for longer, curbing hunger and fuelling your cells with the nutrients they need. Protein also helps speed up recovery after exercise, reduces muscle loss and helps build lean muscle.
Lean Protein vs Fat Protein: What’s the Difference?
Protein is an essential macronutrient, but not all food sources of protein are created equal. There are many foods that are high in protein, but we also eat everything that comes alongside it, from fat to fibre to sodium and more, so it’s important to take this into account when choosing which proteins to eat.
For example, a cup of cooked lentils has approximately 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fibre and virtually no saturated fat or sodium. This would be an excellent source of protein to consume on a regular basis. On the flip side, a broiled sirloin steak is a great source of protein, but also contains a ton of saturated fat. Lean meat provides fewer calories for equal amounts of protein than higher-fat meat.
How Much Lean Protein Should You Consume?
Opinions regarding how much protein you need per day are varied. The amount you need depends on factors such as your age, activity level, muscle mass and overall health. Approximately 15% (about 50 grams) of your daily calories should come from protein. This should be enough for the average adult to meet their needs. However, consuming as much as one third of your daily calories from protein (about 112 grams) is safe and beneficial.
16 Lean Protein Sources to Add to Your Diet
1. Skinless chicken or turkey
2. White-fleshed fish like cod, haddock and halibut
3. 90% (or leaner) ground beef
4. Pork loin
5. Beans and lentils
6. Plain Greek yogurt
7. Low fat dairy products, especially low fat cottage cheese
9. Nuts and nut butters
10. Seeds like pumpkin and sunflower
11. Frozen shrimp
12. Eggs, and more specifically, egg whites
15. Soy protein powder
16. Powdered peanut butter
4 Fat Proteins to Avoid
1. Processed meats like hot dogs, pepperoni and sausage
2. Grain-fed red meats
3. Low quality protein powders filled with additives, sugars, artificial sweeteners and fillers
4. High fat dairy products
30 Lean Protein Recipes & Snacks
1. Chicken Turmeric Soup | Delicious
2. Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps | Recipe Runner
3. Grilled Halibut with Tomato Avocado Salsa | Foodie Crush
4. Chopped Chilli Chicken Stir Fry | Delicious
5. Shrimp Scampi | Damn Delicious
6. Quick Chicken Tikka Masala | Cooking Classy
7. Healthy Turkey and Bean Chilli | Ambitious Kitchen
8. Greek Lemon Chicken Skewers with Tzatziki Sauce | Recipe Runner
9. Almond Butter Chicken Satay with Asian Slaw | Delicious
10. Light Shrimp Fried Quinoa | The Creative Bite
11. Spicy Sesame Zoodles with Crispy Tofu | Pinch of Yum
12. Easy Cobb Salad | Diethood
13. Seared Scallops with Green Goddess Slaw | Eating Well
14. Easy Salmon Piccata | Cafe Delites
15. Sheet Pan Tofu with Vegetables and Crispy Chickpeas | Self
16. Chicken Tinga Tostadas | Eating Well
17. 15-Minute Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry | Gimme Delicious
18. Shrimp Tacos with Mango, Basil, Corn and Feta | Self
19. Creamy Miso Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps | Pinch of Yum
20. Peppery Barbecue-Glazed Shrimp with Vegetables and Orzo | Eating Well
21. Spinach and Tomato Pasta with a Poached Egg | Self
22. Turkey Taco Skillet | Budget Bytes |
23. Baked Halibut with Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa | Eating Well
24. Spicy Red Lentil Curry | Minimalist Baker
25. Cumin Roasted Chickpea Chicken Bowls | Cotter Crunch
26. Warm Spiced Chickpea and Broccoli Wrap | Self
27. Chicken Hummus Bowls | Eating Well
28. Farro and Salmon Fried Rice | Meiko and The Dish
29. Tilapia with Tomatoes and Broccoli Over Rice | Self
30. Turkey Meatballs with Linguine and Fresh Tomato Sauce | Eating Well
Protein is an essential macronutrient you need in your diet. Focus on eating the lean proteins and recipes listed above and try to avoid fat proteins as much as possible.
This post contains affiliate links.
Did you enjoy this post on lean protein vs fat protein? We’d love it if you shared it on Pinterest.
Looking for more healthy food options? Make sure to follow our Food Board on Pinterest!