Every food in every food group has good versions and bad versions. There are good high protein foods and high protein foods that are not as good. Choosing the right high protein foods can have a number of advantages to your healthy diet including helping you to lose weight and stay active. Your choices for high protein foods include animal, plant, and supplemental protein sources. It is up to you to decide what is right for your own diet and lifestyle.
High Protein Foods: Animal Sources
For most people, the most common high protein foods come from animal sources. Meats are high in protein; however, they are not the only high protein foods in this category. Other sources of proteins include milk, cheese, and eggs. Of these, eggs are the perfect protein source, the food which all other protein foods are measured by. First, all of the protein in the egg is digested by the body. It is not as high in cholesterol as it has been made out to be and is low in saturated fats as well. The calorie count for the egg is moderate; it is what is added to the egg dish after it is made that takes it from a healthy food item to a fattening, bad food choice.
It is not always the food choice, but the way that it is prepared that makes it better or worse than others. Even the best high protein foods can become a bad choice if served swimming in butter or cream sauce, or breaded and fried. Even certain foods have better and worse choices when they sound identical. It takes some simple facts to know which is better and which is worse when you are talking about the different high protein foods.
Milk and Dairy
Milk and dairy products are available in a number of varieties from full fat (whole), to skim which is fat free but not calorie free. If you are feeding a toddler, it is important to keep in mind that they actually need the fats that are part of milk for the development of their brain and immune system. Skim milk has changed over the years and many people are unable to tell the difference between a glass of skim and a glass of whole milk. There are also different levels of fat content including 1% and 2% in both milk and cheese products.
The jury is out on whether or not you should stick to non-fat cheeses in every situation or if you should include some full fat cheeses in your diet. The thinking is that the fat in dairy food is beneficial and that it is the portion size that is more telling. It is important to discuss individual dietary needs with your doctor.
Fish and Meats
Another source of high protein foods is meats and fish. Again, how you prepare these foods can change them from a fairly healthy food to a bad idea quickly. It is important to keep in mind that foods prepared in grease or butter will absorb these items and will be higher in calories automatically. Breading is also high in calories and should be avoided. The best high protein foods in this category are turkey breast followed by chicken breast, fish, and then the others. Red meats are the worse choices in this category but even the good choices can be made better with a few tweaks in the recipes. Remove the skin from all poultry, but only after you have finished cooking. The skin seals in the flavor and the juices, but, it is also high in fat and calories.
Fish, on the other hand is high in the good fats, the fats that you actually want to have in your diet. Healthy fats, especially those that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids are often neglected in the typical diet, especially those that are devised to lose weight. Too many people who are trying to lose weight eliminate all sources of fat from their diet which can be a major problem.
One of the best sources of fish based protein is salmon and other cold water, fatty fish.
High Protein Foods: Plant Sources
Most people get confused about high protein foods that are not animal based. There are a number of high protein, plant based foods including soy, grains, beans, and rice. While all animal based high protein foods are complete because they contain all of the essential amino acids, there is only one plant based, high protein food that is complete. Soy and foods made from soy including tempeh, miso, and tofu are all complete.
The popular misconception is that because they are vegetarian, these foods are not high in fat and calories. Tofu, for instance can have more calories per serving than other vegetarian foods, and can also have more fat than is considered to be optimal. The benefit of tofu is that it will take on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with and can be used to stretch meager portions, as well as to increase the protein content of foods.
Beans, rice, and grains are also good protein sources although they are incomplete. Eating these in combination with one another can ensure that vegans and vegetarians are still getting enough protein in the right kinds in their diet.
High Protein Foods: Supplements
In the past, when you mentioned protein supplements, the first thing that came to mind was the huge containers in the health food stores. These are the kind of supplements that are favored by the body builders, at both the professional and amateur level. The problem with these types of supplements is the high calorie count. There are other types of protein supplements that are high in protein but lower in calories overall.
Protein supplements, which also includes protein shakes, bars, puddings, and others should be high in protein but low in calories and should not have additional ingredients that are not necessary or beneficial.
About Protica Research
Founded in 2001, Protica, Inc. is a nutritional research firm specializing in the development of protein-rich, capsulized foods (dense nutrition in compact liquid and food forms). Protica manufactures Profect protein beverage, IsoMetric, Fruitasia and more than 100 other brands in its GMP-certified, 250,000 square foot facility.
You can learn more about Protica at http://www.protica.com.
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