All food is one of the macronutrients, fat, protein, and carbohydrates. There are good options in all three categories and bad ones. To eat healthier, choose the best types of each macronutrient and avoid the worst sources. For carbs, fruits and vegetables are good sources, while candy bars and donuts are bad ones. Trans fats in fried foods are poor sources of fat, but salmon is a good source. Here are healthy options and unhealthy ones for protein.
Avoid poor-quality protein that often has fillers and additives or fried protein options.
Processed meats are an example of poor-quality protein. It’s not the meat itself that’s the problem. It’s all the additives. They include hot dogs and sausages with tons of nitrates and sodium. While the protein may be marginally good, the additives negate any benefits. Deep frying also reduces the benefits of even the healthiest protein options. If you eat chicken or shrimp, avoid the breading and deep frying and opt for steamed, boiled, grilled, or baked alternatives.
Choose protein sources that provide other benefits.
Eggs don’t cost a lot but provide a lot of nutrients. They are high in B vitamins, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and choline. Tuna, salmon, and other fatty fish are also excellent sources. They contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that make them even more beneficial. For vegetarians, beans and lentils are good options. They’re also high in fiber.
You need quality protein daily.
You can’t store protein, so you have to eat it daily. If you’re a vegan, it’s more difficult. Protein is made from amino acids. Your body can make most of them, except nine. These are essential amino acids that must come from food. Animal products contain all nine essential amino acids, so they’re complete. Few plant protein options do. Beans are good sources of protein but are incomplete. When combined with rice, the two become complete protein sources. If you’re vegan, choose your sources carefully. You don’t have to eat all the amino acids at once, just throughout the same day.
- Protein powders and protein bars may sound like a viable choice, but they aren’t. Many protein bars are nothing more than glorified candy bars and protein powders can be deceptive. Many contain unhealthy fillers.
- Quinoa is one plant source of complete protein. Soy products, hemp seeds, chia seeds, buckwheat, amaranth, nutritional yeast, and blue-green algae are others.
- You can’t go wrong with skinless chicken breast. Bodybuilders often consume it when they’re training. It’s lower in calories and high in niacin, selenium, B6, B12, plus phosphorus.
- Not all protein sources are expensive. Canned tuna, organ meats, chicken, beans, and eggs are examples. If you choose red meat, make it meat or animal products from pastured, grass-fed animals. They’re higher in nutrients.
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