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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 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 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:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Veal
  • Fish
  • Eggs & Egg Whites
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Tofu
  • 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 favourites.

 

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?

Protein shakes, powder and bars are probably the most popular supplements on the market.

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 the article about Post Workout Meal Nutrition below.

 

Is It Right For You?

In my opinion, whether your goal is weight loss, building muscle, getting stronger, maintaining muscle, controlling your hunger or all of the above, the high protein diet is what’s best for most people.

 

Post Workout Meal Nutrition – What To Eat After A Workout

The post workout meal (the meal you eat after a workout) is probably the most important meal of the day for anyone who cares about nutrition or wants to build muscle, lose fat or improve their body.

However, it’s also the meal that confuses people the most.

There are just so many different recommendations for what to eat during this meal, how much of it you truly need, and what foods are best to get it all from that it tends to drive people crazy.

Not to mention, there’s also the many shakes and supplements available, the trouble fitting it in with the rest of your diet, and just not even knowing if you should eat anything at all after you’ve worked out.

Well, the truth is that once you understand what your body needs (and doesn’t need) after your workout, how much is needed, and what the best sources are to get this nutrition from, the post workout meal will probably become the simplest meal of your day.

So, let’s clear up all of your confusion once and for all…

 

What You Should & Should NOT Eat After a Workout

Simply put, aside from water (which you should already know you need), your post workout meal needs to contain 2 things, and it needs to not contain 1.

You should be eating protein and carbs. You should NOT be eating fat.

More on the protein and carbs you need in a minute. First, let’s start with a quick explanation of why you shouldn’t eat fat after a workout.

Many times throughout this website I explain why fat is NOT a bad thing (when it’s the “good” fat) and why it is an important part of everyone’s diet. However, there just happens to be a certain time when fat (good or bad) wouldn’t be ideal to eat. This of course is in the post workout meal.

Why? Well, fat slows down digestion. In this case, it would be slowing down the digestion of protein and carbs. As you’re about to find out, this is the exact opposite of what you want to happen.

 

How Long After My Workout Should I Eat My Post Workout Meal?

Pretty much as soon as you can.

I don’t mean put-down-the-dumbbells-and-start-eating. It doesn’t need to be quite that soon. However, there is this “window of time” that exists after your workout during which it would be the most beneficial for your body to receive its post workout nutrition.

Typically you’d want to try to get this meal into your body within 1 hour. If possible, within 30 minutes would be even better. I personally have my post workout meal about 5-10 minutes after my workout.

Seems impossible right? I mean, how can I do it so fast if I’m at the gym? I’ll explain that a bit later.

First let’s find out what type of protein and carbs you should be eating during this meal, and how much of each is best…

 

Post Workout Protein

Now that you know that time is of the essence when it comes to your post workout meal, this part is going to make a whole lot of sense.

See, eating this meal soon after a workout is important, but just because you are putting the food into your body quickly doesn’t actually mean the food is being digested and absorbed by your body equally as quick.

So, while chicken, meat, fish, and eggs are all fine sources of protein that I personally eat daily, they aren’t the ideal type of protein for the meal after your workout.

These foods are solid foods, and the protein in solid foods digest pretty slowly. You may have eaten a high protein food in your post workout meal, but by the time the protein is digested and finally ready to be used by your body, a whole lot of time would have passed. So…

What Protein Source Is Best?

This is why the ideal source of protein to eat after your workout is whey protein powder. Just mix it with some type of liquid (most often water) and you got yourself a drinkable source of protein.

A whey protein shake will be digested by your body much quicker than a solid food for two reasons:

  1. Liquid meals digest faster than solid food meals.
  2. Whey protein is the fastest digesting form of protein there is.

This is what makes whey protein pretty much the official choice of most people as their post workout meal protein source.

How Much Protein Should I Eat After A Workout?

As for how much, try to consume between 0.15-0.25 grams of protein per pound of your body weight (so a 175lb person would shoot for between 26-43 grams at this time). People who are VERY overweight should use their target body weight instead of their current body weight when doing this calculation.

 

Post Workout Carbs

After protein, the next equally important part of your post workout meal is carbs. I know carbs are the nutrient people are most afraid of these days, but honestly, they’re really not scary (or “bad”) at all.

In fact, they are an extremely essential part of your after-workout nutrition and play a key role in your post workout recovery.

Why? Well, carbs will be used by your body to restore muscle glycogen that was depleted while you worked out. If your post workout meal doesn’t contain carbs, your body may actually instead break down muscle tissue for this same purpose (which would suck). Carbs also create an insulin spike which helps to move nutrients into your muscle tissue quicker.

So, now that you know your body requires carbs after a workout, you’re probably wondering what foods they should come from.

Well, you know how there are supposed “good carbs” and “bad carbs?” As it turns out, this is actually the only time when “good carbs” and “bad carbs” switch roles.

Meaning, typical good carbs (oatmeal, brown rice, etc.) contain fiber and other nutrients that slow down its digestion. This is exactly what makes them “good” any other time of the day.

But by now you know the post workout meal is all about speed. And when it comes to speed, simple/high glycemic carbs digest faster than complex/lower glycemic carbs. Which means foods like white potatoes or white rice or a cereal like corn flakes are all good choices for a carb source after a workout.

However, just like protein, solid foods in general may not really be the absolute BEST choice at this time. Don’t get me wrong, they’ll still provide the same nutrition and get the job done. There just might be a better way.

And that’s where a little something called dextrose comes in. Dextrose is not a supplement… it’s actually just a type of sugar often used in sports drinks.

I know, I’m basically saying you should eat sugar. While that would be a terrible idea any other time of the day, your post workout meal is the one exception because your body is in a state where it is perfectly primed to handle these types of foods.

For this reason, dextrose has also become almost an official choice for a post workout carb source.

How Many Carbs Should I Eat After A Workout?

Most people should look to consume somewhere between 0.25-0.4 grams of carbs per pound of their body weight from dextrose (a 175lb person would shoot for between 40-70 grams). And once again, people who are VERY overweight should use their target body weight instead of their current body weight when doing this calculation.

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