Looking to create a leaner physique? I always tell my clients to focus on high-quality dietary protein. Not only does protein regulate your blood sugar and help keep you lean, it is also needed for many biochemical processes in the body. Proteins consist of many hormones including growth hormone, insulin, thyroxine and antidiuretic hormone, which are all vital for proper body functioning.
Eating two times the recommended daily amount of protein can help you maintain muscle when you diet, according to the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. Too little protein leads to low energy, increased hunger and loss of lean body mass. You certainly don’t want that! Here are some of the least expensive dietary protein sources that will give you a lot of bang for your buck.
1. Cottage Cheese. Greek yogurt has been gaining in popularity the past few years due to its high protein content, but cottage cheese is another worthy high-protein snack option. Typically cottage cheese is cheaper than Greek yogurt and does not have the added sugars that Greek yogurts often have. A ½ cup portion of cottage cheese has a whopping 14 grams of protein.
2. Canned Tuna. Tuna is inexpensive, a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids, and boasts approximately 23 grams of protein for a 3 oz can. The specific protein content of canned tuna may vary slightly depending on the brand and species of tuna purchased, so check the nutrition label when making comparisons. Canned mackerel is also pretty inexpensive, high in Omega 3 fatty acids, and contains less mercury than tuna.
3. Cheese Sticks. I know, we typically think about cheese sticks as food for kids. The truth is cheese sticks have approximately 7 grams of protein in each “stick”, making them a great snack for you and your kids. Cheese sticks are convenient because they are so portable and easy to grab when on the go.
4. Almonds. Many people don’t think about nuts in terms of protein, but almonds are nutrition superstars. One ounce (about a handful) has approximately 6 grams of protein along with other nutrients such as vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, and B vitamins. Almonds are non-perishable, convenient, and make a super-satisfying snack.
5. Eggs. It is tough to be the incredible egg, with 7 grams of highly digestible protein in each whole egg. Add hard-boiled eggs to salads for extra protein or enjoy them on their own as good quick snacks. Eggs can also be scrambled, fried, or enjoyed in the form of omelets, quiche, and frittatas.You have to love the versatility of this high-protein food!