Help Build Lean Muscle With These High-Protein Foods and Snacks
Chicken breast is a get-slim staple for good reason—a 3-ounce serving of the lean breast meat (about the size of a smartphone) has 19 grams of protein for 100 calories. To avoid drying out chicken breasts during cooking, try quick methods like grilling or pan-searing, or simmer in tomato sauce to top whole-wheat pasta or grains.
One large egg has 6 grams of protein and just 38 calories. The whites contain most of the protein (11 grams in three whites), but the yolks contain key nutrients, so make a scramble with at least one whole egg to get the full benefits. Think beyond breakfast: A poached or fried egg can turn a bowl of grains and veggies into a satisfying dinner, and a hardboiled egg makes a convenient snack.
NONFAT PLAIN GREEK YOGURT
Greek yogurt is drained of extra water and whey, so it has a dense, thick texture and more protein in every ounce: Nonfat plain Greek yogurt has 17 grams of protein per 100 calories, while regular nonfat yogurt has 10 grams for the same amount of calories. At the store, avoid "Greek-style" yogurt that lists inulin or pectin on the ingredient list—it's thickened instead of drained, so it won't have the same concentration of protein.
A three-ounce filet has 17 grams of protein for about 120 calories, so it's almost as protein-rich as chicken breast. Bonus: Salmon has omega-3 fatty acids, so it's heart-healthy and can help you score glowing skin. Look for wild salmon, which has fewer pollutants. One quick prep: Brush the fish with olive oil and seasonings before broiling for about four minutes. It's that easy.
A small 3-ounce can of chunk light tuna packed in water has 50 calories and 12 grams of protein, earning it a spot on your pantry shelf. Make a healthy tuna salad with Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise, or toss with balsamic vinegar and add to a salad.
PART-SKIM MOZZARELLA STRING CHEESE
Never underestimate the power of the string cheese stick: At 80 calories and 7 grams of protein, it gets you plenty of protein bang for your calorie buck. Pair it with a piece of fiber-rich seasonal fruit for a filling snack.
Unlike other grains, the protein in quinoa is actually a "complete protein," meaning it has all nine of the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle. A half cup of cooked quinoa has just over 100 calories and 4 grams of protein, so it's a smart swap for rice in stir-fries or other dishes.
Hearty, inexpensive, and versatile, these humble-looking legumes pack a serious punch, with 9 grams of protein in a half-cup serving. Combine lentils with rice to form a complete protein, or make a lentil soup and enjoy with whole-grain crackers or bread.
BLACK BEAN CHIPS
One way to get more protein is to swap standard snacks, like chips, for higher-protein varieties. Enter: Bean chips. We like Beanitos Black Bean Chips, which have 4 grams of protein in every 140-calorie serving, compared to a typical tortilla chip, which has half the protein for the same amount of calories. Plus, they're made with brown rice to create a complete protein in one nacho-ready chip.
In a recent study, dieters who cut calories over a month without bumping up their protein lost 7 pounds-but 58 percent of that was muscle mass. Meanwhile, those who doubled their protein lost the same amount of weight with only a third of it coming from muscle.