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Lean Protein Foods

Kritika Parwani Feb 25, 2020
Proteins should be an essential part of any diet since they are known to be the building blocks of life and vital to all bodily functions. The key though is to consume proteins that are low in fat. Here is a list of lean protein foods.

Did you know...

Protein is present in every cell of the human body. Approximately, 18-20% of the body is protein by weight. The only other substance more plentiful in the body is water.
Our body requires certain nutrients to function properly and proteins are one of them. Protein is essential because they are responsible for growth and repair, signaling between cells, and defense against harmful invaders. Without proteins we would not be able to function properly.

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Since protein also helps to build muscles and bones, some people fear that eating high protein foods will make them bulky or lead to weight gain. However, there are many low calorie and nutritious foods that can provide you with the required nutrition and still not add calories.
Lean proteins are proteins that contain low amounts of fat, especially saturated fat. These are mostly animal proteins which are full of nutrients, such as vitamin K, B12, and iron. It is even more beneficial to people who are trying to lose weight. Eating the right amount of protein everyday, helps you maintain a lean body mass, as you lose weight.
This, in turn, raises your metabolism and you continue to burn fat at a steady rate. The recommended protein intake per day for individuals from various age groups is given below.

Recommended Protein Intake for Children (in Grams)

   Age              Boys               Girls
  1 - 3                 13                   13
  4 - 8                 19                   19
  8 - 11           27 - 38          27 - 39
12 - 15           42 - 60          44 - 45
16 - 18           64 - 70              57

*The above figures are as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Medical Online

Recommended Protein Intake for Adults

Age            Men             Women
19 - 64        55 (g)            45 (g)
64+             55 (g)            45 (g)

Pregnant - 51
Lactating - 61

*The above figures are as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Medical Online

List of Lean Protein Foods


Eggs are low in calories with only five grams of fat. Also, they are very healthy and nutritious whether eaten scrambled or as an omelet. The best source of proteins are egg whites and hard-boiled eggs which can be eaten as a snack. The American Heart Association says normal healthy adults can safely enjoy an egg a day.

Nutritional value of 1 large egg white

Protein                 3.6 g
Fat                      0.06 g
Carbs                 0.24 g
Calories                  17


Another great source of protein is fish. It is not only a good source of protein but overall, it is a very nutritious and healthy food. Protein-rich fish include, flounder, sole, scrod, cod, and canned tuna in water. Some other choices include, clam, scallop, and shrimp.
Consuming oily fish such as salmon, herring or trout helps regulate the hormones and metabolism. These are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, various vitamins and unsaturated fat (good fat). You can have 2- 3 servings of fish per week.
Nutritional value of 1 oz. fish-

Protein 5.03 g
Fat 0.26 g
Carbs 0 g
Calories 24

Chicken Breast

Chicken breast provides about 5 g protein per oz. Chicken is also a very good source of vitamin E which is good for your hair and skin. Moreover, it contains niacin, a B vitamin that reduces the risk of most types of cancer. You can have 2 - 3 oz. chicken breast a day.
Just make sure you go for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, since most of the chicken fat is in and around the skin. To further reduce fat content, you can trim any remaining fat before cooking.
Nutritional value of 1 oz. chicken breast-

Protein 8.38 g
Fat 2.19 g
Carbs 0 g
Calories 55

Lean Beef

Lean beef is also a good source of B vitamins and iron. However, since any kind of red meat contains high saturated fat, it is important to know how to pick out the right parts of beef. Look for leaner cuts like top round, top sirloin, and flank steak. A general guideline is to look for a minimum 2 g protein to 1 g fat ratio.
Nutritional value of 1 oz. lean beef-

Protein 28.61 g
Fat 19.79 g
Carbs 0 g
Calories 301


An excellent, but rare, plant source of proteins are beans. Half cup of beans contains as much protein as three ounces of broiled steak. Besides containing all the essential amino acids, they are also loaded with fiber that keep you full for hours. There are a variety of beans that provide proteins in large quantities, including navy, pinto, and black beans.
Nutritional value of 1 cup black beans-

Protein 41.9 g
Fat 2.75 g
Carbs 120.98 g
Calories 662


Apart from proteins, green peas are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, C, K, niacin, riboflavin. They are also considered to be the best source of soluble fiber.
Eating good amounts of green peas prevents cardiovascular diseases, boosts immunity and is also known to prevent cancer. Pregnant women can also benefit from eating green peas, since they prevent birth defects.
Nutritional value of 1 cup green peas-

Protein 7.86 g
Fat 0.58 g
Carbs 20.97 g
Calories 117


Not just proteins, lentils are also an excellent source of fiber - both soluble and insoluble. Moreover, people who consume lentils on a regular basis are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases. Consuming lentils also benefits diabetic patients, since they stabilize blood sugar levels.
Nutritional value of 1 cup lentils-

Protein 49.54 g
Fat 2.04 g
Carbs 115.35. g
Calories 678


Milk is one of the best source of protein. Just 1 cup of milk contains 8.03 g of protein. Not just that, milk is loaded with vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus; all of which give you stronger bones and teeth.
It also contains other important nutrients like carbs, vitamins A & B, riboflavin and zinc. It is recommended that you consume at least 1, 8 oz. glass of milk everyday. You can choose skim or low-fat milk in case you are trying to avoid calories.

Nutritional value of 1 cup milk

Protein        8.03 g
Fat               4.88 g
Carbs        11.49 g
Calories          122


Cheese, like milk, is also an excellent source of protein, calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus. Moreover, it contains vitamin A that is beneficial to your eyes and skin. But, it is also high in fat and sodium content.
So, you might want to switch to a low-fat, low-sodium diet in case you choose to consume high amounts of cheese. You can also opt for low-fat cheese like feta, ricotta, mozzarella and cottage cheese. You can eat up to 1 oz. cheese per day to fulfill the body's protein requirement.

Nutritional value of 1 slice of cheese

Protein               5.37 g
Fat                      7.39 g
Carbs                 1.97 g
Calories                    96

Pork Chops

Pork chops are a low-fat, low-sodium source of protein. They are also high in zinc, phosphorus, selenium, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin. 

Nutritional value of 1 small pork chop-

Protein 13.12 g
Fat 6.85 g
Carbs 0 g
Calories 118


Tofu contains isoflavones like all other soy products. Isoflavones are compounds that release antioxidants, thus preventing premature aging. High intake of tofu prevents cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis as well as breast cancer.
Tofu contains just as much protein as meat. You just have to consume a little more tofu than meat to get the same amount of protein. 290 g of tofu contains just as much protein as 150 g of meat.

Nutritional value of 1 oz. fried tofu-

Protein 4.87 g
Fat 5.72 g
Carbs 2.97 g
Calories 77


Yogurt, along with protein, contains probiotic. Probiotic is a kind of bacteria that is good for your body. Consuming yogurt prevents osteoporosis. It also helps with several gastrointestinal conditions like diarrhea, constipation, colon cancer, as well as other bowel diseases.
Yogurt is a good source of minerals - calcium, potassium, magnesium; as well as vitamins - B2 and B12. Apart from that, yogurt helps you feel fuller for a long time and boosts your immunity.

Nutritional Value of Yogurt
Protein               11.92 g
Fat                        3.52 g
Carbs                 15.98 g
Calories                  14.3
Along with the above, you can also choose to add protein shakes or supplements to your diet. Just ensure that you consult a health professional beforehand.
Disclaimer: This story is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.