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How to Achieve a High-Protein Diet

How to Achieve a High-Protein Diet

We all know that protein is an essential piece of the human diet. Proteins are the building blocks of all structures in your body and one of the three macronutrient groups.

A high-protein diet is defined as one that includes 20% or more calories from protein. High-protein diets are often synonymous with low-carb diets like the keto diet or the Atkin’s diet. However, this is not always the case.

More and more people prioritize protein in their diets as they learn that consuming enough protein can increase the body’s lean muscle mass, and more muscle mass means a higher metabolism. It also means achieving the physique that most people are after; chiseled and lean for men and toned for women. 

Following this diet is a little more involved than just eating protein cookies or discovering the protein in almonds, but once you understand the basics, you’ll have no trouble at all. So, let’s get to it.

What is a High-Protein Diet?

toast with cream and salmon on top

If a high-protein diet is just defined as a diet with 20 % calories from protein, that doesn’t limit us from getting calories from carbs. In fact, science shows that restricting carbohydrates is neither effective nor healthy for the long term.

Instead, if you’re interested in a high-protein diet, a healthier and more balanced macro split is something like:

High-Protein Diet Macros

"Protein, Fat, Carbs" spelt out
  • 50% from carbohydrates
  • 20% from protein
  • 30% from fat

Additionally, suppose you’re not concerned about calorie counting, and you’re simply trying to consume more protein. In that case, you could skip overhauling your current diet and aim to add additional protein sources throughout the day. This can be done through snacks like protein cookies and nuts. There is a surprising amount of protein in almonds!

How Many Grams in a High-Protein Diet?

To determine how many calories from protein you need for a high-protein diet, you have to know how many calories you eat in a day and how many calories are in each macro group.

Each gram of a macro contains calories, and the amount differs:

  • one gram of carbs has four calories
  • one gram of protein has four calories, and
  • one gram of fat has nine calories
Close up of calorie, mass, and KJ in foods

So, if you consume 2000 calories per day and want 50% from carbs, 20% from protein, and 30% from fat, you can multiply your calories by your percentages. So, 2000 x .50 is 1000 calories from carbs. 2000 x .20 is 400 calories from protein, and 2000 x .30 is 600 calories from fat.

However, determining the number of calories per muscle group might not be super helpful because of how nutrition labels are laid out. Instead, we typically recommend that active people (or people interested in a high-protein diet) consume 1.2-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

So, if you weigh 70.1 kg, you should eat between 84.12 and 140.2 grams of protein every day. This way, you can simply add up the grams of protein and aim to reach this threshold.

How to Eat that Much Protein

Built Bars Protein Bar 9 Flavors Supplement Superstore

Now that you know the easiest way to track your protein and how much protein you need for a high-protein diet, you might be wondering how in the world you’re going to eat that much protein.

The first step is to figure out how much protein you’re already consuming and determine where you can increase. While there are no foods that are strictly prohibited on a high-protein diet (as it should be), it can be helpful to understand the protein content of certain foods.

There are a few places to look and make swaps in your daily diet, including foods you’re probably already eating like chicken and yogurt, functional food swaps and additions like protein powder supplements, and high-protein snacks like almonds and protein cookies.

Naturally High-Protein Foods

Raw chicken legs on a plate

Foods that are naturally high in protein are often included in staple meals and healthier snacks, and it’s helpful to understand roughly how much protein you get from these normal food items. If you find you’re on the lower end of protein intake, increasing the portion size of the protein sources you normally eat by 50-100% can make a significant difference. This list is divided up between meats and vegetarian options.

There are also other foods that make excellent snacks due to their protein content. For example, the protein in almonds makes a great addition to your healthy snack rotation, along with others listed below.  

Meats:

(per 3 ounce servings)

Chicken

28g

Steak

26g

Turkey

25g

Lamb

23g

Pork

22g

Salmon

22

Tuna

22

Shrimp

20

Lobster

16g

Scallops

14g 

Vegetarian Protein Sources:

Legumes, grains, vegetables (per 1/2 cup serving)

Pinto Beans

11g

Lentils

9g

Edamame

9g

Black Beans

8g

Kidney Beans

8g

Chickpeas

7g

Black-eyed Peas

7g

Quinoa

4g

Green Peas

4g

Spinach

3g

High-Protein Functional Foods

SinFit Protein Pancakes & Waffle Mix Functional Food Nutrition Supplement Superstore

The following foods are those you should consider adding or making swaps for things you currently use. Functional foods are those that have added nutritional benefits besides the nutrition they typically have. In this case, we’re looking at high-protein functional foods.

 

Protein Powder

10-30g

Protein Bars

10-30g

Protein Pancake/Baking Mix

14-20g

Protein Instant Oats

12g

Protein Pasta

10-20g

Protein Snacks

Pistachios being poured out of a jar

In addition to the foods we’ve already listed, consider adding snacks and swapping current treats for high-protein options. We’ve listed snack foods that are naturally high in protein, for example, the protein in almonds, walnuts, and dairy products.

Nuts and seeds (per 1 ounce serving)

Soy Nuts

12g

Pumpkin Seeds

9g

Peanuts (1 tbsp peanut butter)

7g

Almonds

6g

Pistachios

6g

Flax Seeds

6g

Sunflower Seeds

6g

Chia Seeds

5g

Walnuts

4g

Cashews

4g

 

Dairy and soy (servings specified below)

Greek Yogurt-6 oz

18g

Cottage Cheese-4 oz

14g

Milk (skim)-8 oz

8g

Soy Milk-8 oz

8g

Mozzarella cheese-1 oz

7g

String Cheese-1 piece

7g

Snacks and Treats

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Next up are functional food snacks and treats like protein cookies, protein puffs, and protein chips. In addition, we’ve also listed protein almonds—chocolate and peanut butter coated for double the natural protein in almonds. 

Protein Almonds

10g

Protein Cookies

10-20g

Protein Cookie Brownie

22g

Protein Chips

18g

Protein Candy Bars

15g

Protein Puffs

21g

Protein Peanut Butter Cups

11g

Quest Peanut Butter Cups Supplement Superstore

Note that many of these protein cookies and snacks are not your typical health foods. Think of them more as replacements for the original. If you were going to eat a candy bar anyway, at least you can increase your protein with these replacements.

The high-protein diet is often mistaken for another low-carb diet. The truth is that most people can benefit from increasing their protein intake, and you don’t have to cut carbs to allow for more protein. Simply increasing the proteins you already eat and adding a few functional foods and snacks like protein cookies can help you meet goals and feel amazing.

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