High Protein Diet & Foods List – Benefits, Best Sources & More
The high protein diet has become one of the most popular diets around these days, and for good reason.
Simply put, no matter what your goals are, EVERYONE can benefit from eating a high protein diet consisting of various high protein foods.
And, unlike the many fad and gimmick diets around these days, this one is actually supported by scientific research and real world results. Whether your specific goal is weight loss, building muscle, maintaining muscle while losing fat, or just recovering better from your workouts, the high protein diet is definitely ideal for you.
Of course, you probably have a whole bunch of questions…
- What makes it so special?
- What are the benefits?
- How does it help with building muscle? What about just maintaining muscle?
- How does it help with weight loss?
- How many grams do I need to eat per day to get all of these benefits?
- What are the best high protein foods? When are the best times to eat them?
- What about supplements?
Good questions. Let’s answer every single one of them right now…
Why It’s Best For Building Muscle
Protein plays a crucial role in the growth and repair of everything from skin to hair to nails. Oh, and guess what else? MUSCLE!
Along with a proper workout routine and an ideal calorie intake, a sufficiently high protein diet is one of the 3 requirements for muscle to be built. In fact, it’s a requirement for muscle to just be maintained.
In addition, eating high protein foods at certain ideal times (I’ll tell you those times in a minute) will also play an important role in the building or maintaining of muscle tissue as well as the entire workout recovery process.
See, during any kind of weightlifting or strength training workout, your muscles are basically being broken down with the intent being to build them back up a tiny bit better than they were before. What all research shows is that there is no aspect of your diet that is more essential to this process than protein.
Meaning, without a high protein diet, muscle growth, muscle maintenance, and workout recovery will just not be happening as effectively as it should.
Why It’s Best For Weight Loss
People always say they want to “lose weight,” but that’s a stupid way of saying it. “Weight” can be a bunch of different things.
In reality, what we all want to do here is lose fat… NOT muscle. And what all research shows is that eating a high protein diet is the KEY dietary factor in preserving lean muscle while body fat is lost. Like I said earlier, a sufficient protein intake is a requirement for maintaining muscle.
But that’s not all. In addition to usually being low in calories, high protein foods are also some of the most filling foods there are. Of the 3 macronutrients that provide our daily calories (protein, carbs and fat), research shows that protein is the most filling of them all. Which means, a high protein diet is key to keeping you full and satisfied, and keeping your hunger under control.
But wait, there are still more benefits. Besides being the most filling, protein is also the nutrient that burns the most calories while being digested. You see, everything we eat causes calories to be burned during digestion. Protein just burns significantly more than everything else.
Which means, eating a high protein diet loaded with high protein foods will INCREASE the amount of calories your body naturally burns each day.
People always associate protein with building muscle, but as you can clearly see, it’s just as important for weight loss.
A List Of High Protein Foods
At this point you’re probably pretty impressed with the list of benefits protein provides regardless of your specific goal. What you probably want to see now is a list of high protein foods you can choose from.
So, here now is a list of some of the best sources of protein:
- Eggs & Egg Whites
- Supplements (powders, shakes, bars, etc.)
There may be a few other high protein foods out there, but these are definitely the most common. Choose your favorites.
How Much Should I Eat Per Day?
The next question you probably have is how much protein do you need to eat per day for it to be considered a high protein diet.
Recommendations tend to vary, but in most cases, between 0.8-1.3 grams of protein per pound of body weight is the ideal range, with an even 1 gram per pound probably being the most common recommendation of all for healthy adults looking to build muscle or lose fat.
So, for example, if you weigh 175lbs, you should aim to eat between 140-227 grams of protein per day (or an even 175 grams if you want to stay in the middle). And yes, you’d eat this amount everyday, whether you worked out that day or not.
Now after hearing this recommendation, some people might be thinking: “Eating a high protein diet sounds impossible! How the hell am I supposed to eat that much protein every day?”
Well, the truth is that it’s really not that hard at all. In fact, many people can reach their ideal intake just fine by only eating typical high protein foods like chicken, eggs, meat and the others on my list above.
However, there is a way to make it even easier. I’m of course talking about protein supplements…
What About Supplements? Which Are The Best?
No, they don’t magically build muscle or cause weight loss or do anything else that high quality food sources wouldn’t do. However, they do have one BIG advantage… they are quicker, easier and more convenient.
Think about it. Drinking your average shake with 1 scoop of protein powder will give you between 15-30 grams depending on your specific brand. There’s no cooking or preparing. You just take a scoop, add a liquid, and drink. The whole process takes a minute. Most bars also contain about 15-30g per serving and are similar to a candy bar in size (easy to carry with you) and sometimes… taste.
So, while your high protein diet should be comprised mostly of the types of high protein foods on my list from before, supplements are the perfect quick, easy, convenient and often extremely tasty way to ensure you reach your ideal intake on a daily basis.
When Are The Best Times Of The Day To Eat Protein?
While just reaching your ideal daily intake is always the most important part of a high protein diet, there are certain times of the day when it would be extra beneficial to eat high protein foods.
These times are:
- Your first meal of the day (since you haven’t eaten for hours).
- At night before bed (so there’s protein in you over night when your body is repairing/recovering).
- In the meal you eat before your workout (your “pre workout meal”).
- In the meal you eat immediately after your workout (your “post workout meal”).
Your pre and post workout meals are DEFINITELY the most important of all, so be sure you’re eating some sort of protein at those times. I explain why, how much, and the best possible sources in my article about Post Workout Meal Nutrition.