Protein-rich foods: where can you find protein?

Discover a list of the foods that contain the most protein. Whether you'd rather eat animal protein or plant-based protein, you'll find something to suit your tastes!

Protein-rich foods: where can you find protein?

It's important to eat a healthy, balanced diet anyway, but even more so if you're doing a physical activity and you want to improve, recover well between workouts or simply feel less tired. This balance means having a daily intake of foods that are rich in macronutrients: carbohydrates (sugar), fats and protein. 

But depending on the way you eat and your lifestyle, it's not always easy to know whether you're getting everything your body needs. It can soon leave you scratching your head! So to make life easier, we've put together a list of foods that contain the most protein, whether animal or plant-based.

Why should we eat protein every day?

Proteins are often thought of as the "building blocks" of our bodies. They're composed of amino acids: small elements that are essential for the functioning of our cells. And our bodies are full of cells that need fuelling and renewing every day!
Since our needs are daily, it's important to make sure our diets respond to them.
To find out more about the role of proteins and their importance in keeping us healthy, check out our dedicated article.

Thankfully, protein can be found in many foods of both animal and plant origin. So there's something to suit everyone!

Foods rich in plant protein

Plant-based protein has the benefit of containing fewer fats than animal protein, but it's often less complete.

There are two types of protein:
complete protein: containing all of the essential amino acids;
incomplete protein: lacking certain essential amino acids.

To allow muscle synthesis and limit fatigue, we need to consume all of the essential amino acids through our food.


The solution: In the case of plant-based protein, you need to make sure you're eating legumes and cereals to give your body all the amino acids it needs.
Here are some foods that are rich in plant protein, split into 3 families:

#1. Legumes

They're low in carbohydrates, rich in plant protein, and packed with vitamins and trace elements.
Tip: To make them digestible and bioavailable, remember to soak them in water for about 12 hours then rinse them before cooking.

For example: chickpeas, kidney beans, split peas, black beans, lentils, soya.

Want a recipe idea? Veggie couscous, or even red lentil dal with coconut milk.

#2. Cereals

Cereals are also sources of carbohydrate and, when combined with legumes, give you complete proteins and energy.
The exception is quinoa, which already contains all the essential amino acids. You therefore don't need to pair it with a legume, unless you feel like it!

For example: rice, millet, spelt, buckwheat, semolina, pasta, bread and quinoa.

Tip: go for a semi-wholemeal or wholemeal version as this will have a lower glycaemic index and be richer in vitamins and minerals.

#3. Nuts and seeds

They're rich in plant-based protein, as well as in good-quality fats. Fat also plays a major role in helping our bodies, and particularly our brains, work properly.

For example: walnuts, chia seeds, linseed, almonds, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, Brazil nuts, macadamias, and peanuts.

Walnuts and chia seeds in particular are rich in omega-3, an essential fatty acid that we often lack.

Tip: like with legumes, I recommend soaking almonds and hazelnuts for about 12 hours then rinsing them before eating. This will get rid of their anti-nutrients, making them easier to digest and more bioavailable for your body. 

Foods rich in animal protein

Animal products are rich in fat and often in saturated fats, so it's best to eat them in moderation. However, they have the benefit of containing protein in its complete form.

Unless you choose not to eat meat, having a bit of animal protein a few times a week will help rebuild your muscles efficiently.

Here's a range of 10 different animal-based foods to give you some ideas for protein-rich meals: 

* duck: with 30 g of protein per 100 g, and rich in zinc and phosphorus;
* goat's cheese: with 30 g of protein per 100 g, and rich in trace elements, vitamin A and vitamin B1;
* emmental: with 27 g of protein per 100 g, and rich in vitamin D;
* cod: with 26 g of protein per 100 g, and rich in selenium and vitamin B12;
* tuna: with 24 g of protein per 100 g, and rich in omega-3, iron and phosphorus;
* sardines: with 24 g of protein per 100 g, and rich in iron, calcium and omega-3;
* beef: with 22 g of protein per 100 g, and rich in zinc, iron and potassium;
* roast pork: with 21 g of protein per 100 g, and rich in zinc and potassium;
* prawns: with 21 g of protein per 100 g, and rich in omega-3;
* eggs: with 14 g of protein per 100 g, eggs are a great source of complete proteins.

Meat tends to be richer in saturated fats and therefore shouldn't be eaten too often. The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends eating 300 g of meat per week. Fish and seafood may contain heavy metals. This is why the WHO recommends limiting their consumption to once or twice a week.

Tip: eggs are a very good source of protein with few drawbacks. To benefit from them fully, it's best to eat them when the yolk is runny, i.e. soft-boiled, fried, coddled or poached. 

So that's your shopping list sorted! No more excuses for forgetting to get enough protein in your diet.
One last thing: a healthy, balanced diet is first and foremost a varied diet. Don't be afraid of change! 

Protein-rich foods: where can you find protein?

alexandra

Naturopath & Yoga Teacher - Diet and Sport Consultant

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