Everyone needs to have a certain amount of protein in their diet each day. Some people such as athletes need to have higher levels of protein, and they will sometimes resort to supplements and nutrition bars to help with this. While some protein bars are convenient, filling, and nutritious, they aren’t always the best source of protein.
Indeed, some protein bars are laden with sodium, high in carbohydrates, low in fiber, and contain ingredients that any health-conscious person would normally avoid. When it comes to healthy sources of protein, and maintaining a healthy diet, there are much better options.
Whole foods are a great way to balance your diet and increase your protein levels at the same time. Here are some of the better choices for boosting your protein levels.
What are whole foods?
Something that is part of the whole food diet would be anything that is still in its original state or as near to it as can be. This means that it hasn’t had food coloring added to it, or had any other chemicals or preservatives included. Processed food could be described as the opposite of whole food. Processed food may have had flavorings, colorings, fat, sugar, salt, and preservatives added to it. Processed food is a food type that has been tampered with and altered, whereas whole food has not.
Typical processed foods would be salami, sausages, soda, frozen pizza, bacon, cheese, pate, crisps, and bread. This type of food will often come in convenient packs from supermarkets and/or microwaveable meals. Whole foods would include nuts and seeds without salt, fruits, vegetables, lentils, eggs, fish, and chicken.
Who needs to boost their protein levels?
Typically you might think of athletes and sports people as the groups that might require higher protein levels but this isn’t strictly true. According to HealthLine, the average sedentary adult male should consume around 56 grams of protein a day, and the average female, 46 grams.
Below is a group of people who might benefit from having more than the average protein amounts:
- Anyone prone to gaining weight
- Older people
- Anyone on the keto diet
- You are in recovery
- You are vegetarian/vegan
- You always feel hungry
If you were recovering from having surgery or had a wound, or burn, that needs to heal, then higher levels of protein can help. Also, stress hormones can increase following a burn which will lead to tissue protein breakdown, eating more can help to combat this.
Anyone relying solely on plant proteins may need to consume a higher level. Some types, such as soy protein, are less effective at producing muscle mass than animal proteins. Therefore, higher consumption levels may be needed.
Adding supplements and powders to your diet can increase the protein levels you consume, but they are still considered processed foods. In fact, most protein powders are highly processed, as are protein and nutrition bars.
What are the benefits of eating whole foods?
There are lots of associated health benefits to consuming whole foods as opposed to a diet heavy with processed choices. Choosing whole foods can help to reduce the risk of some serious diseases. Some studies say that there is a 70% reduced chance of having heart disease, there is less chance of developing cancer, and whole foods also help prevent diabetes.
Someone on a highly-processed diet will be consuming a lot of empty calories along with high levels of trans fats, sugar, and salt. This can lead to weight gain, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and other serious health problems.
Whole foods can not only help to avoid these health risks but they can even help to reverse some health problems and improve mental wellness. Whole foods are known for improving symptoms of depression and anxiety, and can also help with some allergies.
What are the best whole foods for boosting protein and energy levels?
If protein levels are your biggest concern when going into a whole food diet, or when you are starting to explore your options, then you may want to explore some of the choices below.
Whole foods with higher levels of protein:
Salmon and tuna are both excellent sources of protein and B vitamins. The omega 3 that these fish contain can also help reduce inflammation and help aid recovery after a workout.
Vitamin B12 helps your body to produce red blood cells, and it is this production that can help you fight off feelings of fatigue and raise energy levels.
There is no secret here, athletes have been using bananas now for years for a quick energy boost. Vitamin B6, potassium, and carbohydrates will all help your energy levels. The only issue is an average banana only contains around 1.5 grams of protein.
A wonder food for anyone wanting to increase their protein levels. There are some incredibly useful questions you might ask about weight loss and how to achieve it while retaining energy levels. Eggs might be the answer.
Low in calories and high in protein, around 6 grams per hard-boiled egg, they are ideal for anyone wanting to control their weight. Eggs provide a good source of energy, and the protein will make you feel full up quicker.
One cup of quinoa contains more than 8 grams of protein, more than the equivalent portion of brown rice. It contains a high level of carbohydrates but it is classed as a superfood because it also contains manganese, folate, and magnesium. Folate combines with Vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells boosting your energy.
When it comes to getting the biggest bang for your cup, get some edamame beans. One cup of these nutritious soybeans will bring you more than 18 grams of protein. They can be steamed, boiled, or pureed. Eat them as a snack or as part of a dish and you will be consuming all nine essential amino acids in one sitting.
Is too much protein bad for you?
There is such a thing as too much protein, and excessive consumption can lead to symptoms of ketosis such as bad breath, but you could also develop kidney stones, and feel fatigued, or start putting on weight.
However, experts agree that someone would have to consume excessive amounts of protein for months at a time before any negative effects were noticed. A healthy individual with no kidney or liver problems should have no problems with increasing their protein consumption by a sensible amount.
Is it ok to eat protein bars and powders too?
As with everything in life, a little bit of what you like won’t hurt you, although choosing the correct options will benefit you more. Nutrition bars are a convenient way to increase energy and raise your levels of protein. However, choosing one that includes taurine, soy protein isolate, high fructose corn syrup, palm oil, and sugar alcohols such as xylitol, will undermine your healthy diet.
Select a protein bar that has more than 10 grams of protein, is lower in carbs, has a good level of fiber, and only contains natural ingredients. Alternatively, try some high-protein snacks such as nuts and seeds.
Here are just five examples of whole foods packed with protein to increase your energy levels, and improve your diet. There are many more options for you to enjoy, and you can take great pleasure in discovering what whole foods to include in your new diet.