Choosing Protein Rich Foods
Protein is arguably the most important macronutrient in your diet. Research proves time and time again that protein is the key nutrient in exercise recovery. In addition to recovery, protein is known to optimize brain function, offset fatigue, keep you full longer, and rev your metabolism through the thermogenic effect of digestion. As personal trainers we talk with our clients about their go-to protein rich foods on a daily basis. A lot of the times clients will list foods such as yogurt, cheese, peanut butter, and nuts as being high in protein. These foods do contain some protein, however there simply is not a high enough percentage of protein in these foods alone to make a huge difference.
If you don't do so already, pick up the habit of reading your nutrition label! For example take a look at a popular peanut butter nutrition label. Many would argue that this food is high in protein at 8 grams per serving. If we look at the caloric composition of this peanut butter, protein makes up only 16% of the calories per serving. Is it worth eating this food as a good source of protein? The answer is a big fat NO! The same thing goes for cheese, yogurt (non-greek), nuts, and countless other misconceived foods.
An excellent source of protein would be a food in which the majority of calories come from protein. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, non-fat Greek yogurt, and non-fat milk are all great choices for protein rich foods. Nutrition labels give you all the information you need to base your decision. Simply figure out what the ratio of protein calories is to the calories of the entire serving. The higher the percentage of calories from protein the better. Start with 30% of calories from protein as a baseline goal to stay above for a food you would deem "protein rich". Not all foods are high protein foods, and that's okay. Just make sure you can distinguish the difference when it matters.