Protein Diet: the darling of all nutritionists’ recommendations. The gym goers swear by it and the athletes stick to it religiously. It is certainly the much talked about, and maybe little-understood component of our meals. This is partly because of not knowing what constitutes a protein rich meal and mainly because of getting lost in the endless options on has to choose from.
So, here is a Fitso’s top 25 protein rich food options for Indian diet.
Protein Rich Category #1 – Poultry:
1.Chicken Breast (27 g Protein per 100 g):
Your best bet among the Poultry foods. With less saturated fat (less than 1.5%), chicken is best for building lean muscle. Lean muscle = muscle that is built without any simultaneous fat addition to your body. Interestingly, studies show that organic country chickens have around 30% more omega 3 (good fatty acids) than those specifically bread in poultries and farms!
2. Eggs: (1 large egg of 50 gm = 6 g protein):
A low calorie, low fat and high protein food giving you the most bang for your buck. The egg white is home to half a dozen vitamins and minerals including vitamin D, B6, B12, zinc, iron and copper. The yolk is rich in cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E and K. Perfect for a solid breakfast.
Protein Rich Category #2 –Meat:
1. Steak: (32 g Protein per 100 g):
Meat taken from the hind quarters of beef. Though it takes time to digest beef, it is worth the protein inherited. Also, it is the richest natural food containing creatine. Creatine enhances your ability to exert more strength in high intensity workouts and endurance trainings. But you are advised to limit your intake to less than twice a week, given that beef also has high cholesterol.
2. Pork chops: (30g Protein per 100g):
Meat taken from the ribcage of Pork. Just like steak, you can expect high protein content from Pork. And in addition to protein, it is high in zinc that helps men develop their testosterone hormone. Beware of the high cholesterol content though.
Protein Rich Category #3 – Sea Food:
1. Tuna Fish (27g Protein per 100g)
Researchers heavily favour Sea foods when asked for best sources of lean protein. With little fat and cholesterol, they make up an excellent choice for proteins and also a powerhouse of other vitamins (Vitamin A, B, D) and minerals. Besides, there are a lot of delicious recipes in the Indian Cuisine for cooking to anybody’s taste!
2. Salmon (22g Protein per 100g):
Though it is not a predominant Indian food, Salmon deserves a mention solely for its high protein content.
Protein Rich Category #4
Protein Shakes (>15 g Protein per 100 g):
In addition to boosting your protein intake, protein shakes and smoothies help you lose weight by burning calories faster. So you can check out some cool protein shake recipes and flavours with proteins coming from any of these sources – Milk, Whey, Soy, Rice etc. On the flipside, most ready-made protein shakes contain loads of sugar that might not agree well with your nutrition plans.
Protein Rich Category #5 – Vegetarian
1. Soybeans (34 g Protein per 100 g):
It is also called “meat without bones” as it is a vegie packed heavily with protein. Soybeans are the source for both Soy milk and Tofu, and you should properly cook it before consumption (it is poisonous otherwise). In its raw form, Soybean acts as anti-coagulant in the blood and prevents mineral absorption. So it should be boiled, cooked or let sprouted for keeping the risk levels at a minimum.
2. Tofu (10 g Protein per 100 g)
We should thank the Chinese for this invention. Soymilk is left to curdle, become coagulated and later compressed into a cake (Tofu), packing around 10 gram of protein per 100 g. It is the only vegie source that rivals the meats in providing all 9 essential amino acids and hence called the complete protein! Tofu’s protein can also be made more digestible if it is fermented.
3. Milk and Curd (3.4 g Protein per 100 g of milk and 10 g Protein per 100 g curd)
Cow’s milk and buffalo’s milk is the most preferred source of protein and. We now have a great variety of forms to choose from- skimmed, whole, fat, low fat etc. Taking milk early in the day helps the body to absorb the protein better. But it should not be taken with any other concentrated protein source like meat for reasons concerning digestion. (Milk being liquid and gets digested in the duodenum and not stomach).
4. Paneer (17g Protein per 100g):
Also called Cottage Cheese, paneer is the staple source of protein in most Indian households. Besides tasting delicious, it has great protein content and calcium along with fat-cutting properties. Also it digests and releases energy slowly, not letting the blood sugar level spike.
5. Cheese (22 to 30 g Protein per 100g):
Though they are more than 2000 varieties of cheese, all of them are rich in protein. So it’s okay to be a cheese head! Cheese has less carbs unlike milk and curd and makes a good low-carb, high protein food. The only con being that it has high saturated fats that you should guard against.
Protein Rich Category #6 – Pulses
1. Chana (Chickpeas): 19g Protein per 100g
Or Kaala Chana as it is referred to in the Indian households, is a source of high protein for vegetarians. A cup of boiled Chana contains around 260 calories and 13 grams of dietary fibre in addition to 20gm of protein. You can boil and make it into a stew or an important component of your evening salad. Excellent source of potassium and sodium too.
2. Rajma (Kidney Beans): (6g Protein per 100g):
Rajma contains 6 grams of protein for every 100 grams along with 8 other vital amino acids. Another member of the legume family, with origins from Central America and Mexico, kidney beans/ Rajma exists in red, white, cream, black or spotted colours and has antioxidant properties. Slightly boiled Rajma is said to have weight lose properties.
3. Lentils (Dal): (more than 20g Protein per 100g):
Coming from the family of split pulses, lentils (Masoor dal, Urad dal, Toor dal) have considerably high protein. When dal is combined with rice or wheat (roti), it provides amino acides in the right proportion making it a complete protein like Soybeans. However, studies show that boiling, like in cooked dal and sambar, reduces the protein content to a large extent.
4. Nuts (19-22g Protein per 100g):
Cashews (18g), Pista (20 g), Almond (21 g), Peanut (26 g), Walnut (16 g). When you can’t always have a meal, you can have some nuts to supply all the essential proteins and fats. They have high calories per gram and are rich in fibre and antioxidants. Watch out for peanuts if you are allergic though, as a lot of people are.
5. Sprouts (3-4g Protein per 100g):
Germinated seeds are also an excellent alternative to cooked foods and they are no way behind in protein content. Sprouts are easily digestible, regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and keeps your skin healthy. Make sure to properly wash them and clean them before sprouting though.
6. Hemp Seeds (27 gm protein per 100g):
Other than being a great protein source, hemp seeds can fight heart disease, obesity and metabolic syndrome as they’re rich in fibre and omega-3s
7. Chia (4 gm protein per 100g):
Chia seeds contain all nine essential amino acids. They go fantastic with smoothies, puddings as they form a gel when combined with water or milk.
8. Peanut Butter (7 gm protein per 100g):
Peanut butter provides muscle-building protein and healthy fats.
Protein Rich Category #7 – Vegetables
1. Spinach, ( 3g Protein per 100g):
Though spinach is loaded with a lot of minerals especially iron, it is also a source of protein, albeit in little quantity. Instead of taking it as a singular source of protein, you could combine it with other protein rich foods. So next time you have Palak paneer or Palak paratha or Palak chole, don’t hold back!
2. Broccoli (4g Protein per 100g):
Broccoli contains more protein per calorie than even meat, although that means you’ll have to eat a lot of it unlike meat. Apart from proteins, it also houses vitamin K and calcium. It is particularly recommended for children, old people and pregnant women.
3. Asparagus (2-4 g Protein per 100g):
Called the queen of herbs in Ayurveda, it is also considered a good source of plant protein in the vegetable world. It is also rich in vitamin K and potassium. You can try asparagus curries along with your chapattis or rice.
4. Fruits (Cantaloupe, Avocado, Blackberry, Guava) (2-6g Protein per 100 g):
If you thought fruits are devoid of proteins, then you are in for a surprise. Guavas lead the pack with 4g of protein (per 100g) closely followed by Avocados, Pomegranate and Cantaloupe (Musk melon). Fruit shakes with milk are a good combination for proteins diets.
5. Oats, (17g Protein per 100g):
We have three types of Oats- Steel Cut (resembles rice, takes time to cook), Rolled (flat, steamed, cooks faster) and Instant (completely precooked and dried). No matter which type of Oats you choose, they contain at least 10% protein.
6. Barley, Millets, (11-13g Protein per 100g):
Another cereal with decent protein content and great variety of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. It is one of the oldest consumed grains. Sprouted barley is high in maltose and fermented barley is made into beer.
7. Dates (2.5g Protein per 100g):
Inside the soft, easily digestible flesh, dates hold a mine of nutrients and essential fibre. Each date contains around 0.2 g of protein and no fat or cholesterol. They are instant source of energy although a large part of the calories come from sugars.
8. Coconut milk (2.3g Protein per 100g):
Milk derived from the grated and squeezed coconut. It has around 2 gm of protein per 100gm of the milk and is used in preparation of deserts. Highly nutritious in vitamins and minerals, this is a great food to be included in general cooking.
Check out protein rich vegetarian foods here.