10 Protein Foods That Will Making Hit Your Protein Target Easier Than Ever | Tracking Macros For Beginners
Protein is the king of macros considering how popular it is among dieters, athletes, and even regular folk wanting to eat a better diet.
So it is not surprising how many people want to know what foods can help them eat more protein and more specifically, hit their protein targets day in, day out.
I have often been asked what high protein foods I recommend - usually from individuals counting macros for fat loss. Indeed, eating a high protein diet is well sought and is generally a good practice too.
In today’s blog, I share 10 protein foods I recommend as a Sports Dietitian to help you level up your nutrition and track your macros more effectively.
When it comes to tracking macros, one important goal should always be eating protein rich food in order to achieve protein adequacy. This is why you should know what and how to boost your diet and eat enough high quality protein sources - no matter if you follow a specific type of diet or not.
That is why I wanted to compile a list of 10 nutritious, staple food options that I personally eat and recommend to my clients. Most of these are also calorie friendly being lean protein foods too - which is always a good combo to aim for due to ease of implementation within a strategically designed nutrition plan.
Tracking Macros For Beginner
In a nutshell, your macronutrients are: protein, carbs, and fats. Each of these macronutrients (or as we call them, macros), has a calorie amount per gram - the combination of which in a given diet adds up to the total caloric intake.
Tracking macros is the act of keeping a pulse on your calories and specific macro intake daily to ensure your nutrition plan is consistently implemented and strategically designed in order to get more control over your goals and make your plan more adaptable and flexible.
Hitting your protein intake target is but ONE aspect of macro and calorie tracking and is usually one of the key pillars of a beginners approach to macro tracking.
The 10 Protein Foods List
Now without further ado, here is the list of 10 protein rich foods for a high protein diet. Time to level up and hit yo macros!
I don’t think it is any surprise that good ol chicken is here. It still is one of the most versatile, affordable, and delicious sources of protein one can have so of course it has to go on this list - no matter how cliche it may be. I recommend to go skinless chicken where possible or suitable due to it helping with making it more calorie friendly.
Turkey goes on this list as a very similar but alternative option to chicken. It is used in the same way, has a similar nutritional and calorie profile, and all the while providing a different flavour which can help with reducing food boredom and taste fatigue. Like chicken, try and go skinless where suitable for less calories.
I call eggs “natures protein ball”, and for good reason. Eggs not only provide a healthy dose of some of the highest quality protein in the food world, but also come packing a nutritional punch of micronutrients too. Eggs are a truly versatile and delicious protein source that is very importantly affordable and easy to prep for most people. There is roughly 6 grams of protein in one egg - so you can see quickly how it can form the basis of a meal or easily fortify another meal by adding some egg-cellence.
Salmon is probably the best fish you can eat from a nutrition standpoint (or tied with sardines if we are 100% truthful). Therefore, I will always recommend more salmon for my athletic clients to help them not only get in protein but also get in some healthy fats. Specifically, salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids (aka “fish oil”) which is great for health, functionality, and recovery.
Whether you call them prawns (here in Australia, NZ, and the UK) or shrimp (for North America), this crustacean is a sensation when it comes to protein to calorie ratio. Super high in protein while being super lean and calorie friendly, it’s easy to see why I recommend this as a protein source. It is truly an underrated protein food source and one that you probably haven’t given much thought.
#6: Tofu/Tempeh/SOY BEAN BASED FOODS
When it comes to plant based protein and vegan nutrition, you can’t go past any of the foods based on soybeans. Tofu, tempeh, and texturised vegetable protein are all very high quality plant based proteins as soybeans are a complete protein (defined as providing all amino acids needed). Even if you are not a vegan or vegetarian, eating more plant based protein foods is something I recommend to provide balance and a healthy dose of variety too.
#7: Red Meat
Red meat is a classic protein staple which needs no introduction. Whether it is beef, lamb, pork, or even kangaroo; red meat will always be a reliable source of protein to help you recover and build your body. However, be conscious of the high amounts of saturated fats in certain meats and cuts - especially if you are looking for calorie control. Nonetheless, red meat in moderation can be a perfectly fine addition to one’s total diet and nutrition strategy.
#8: Cottage Cheese
I was going to include all cheese here and to be honest, you very well could. Cheese in general is a very suitable protein option that can be added to foods and snacks as needed to fortify the diet. The reason I chose to focus on cottage cheese is because it’s both super lean AND it is also a bit understated among dieters so I wanted to bring it to your attention. However, rest assured that ALL CHEESE is will make protein consumption a breeze.
#9: Greek Yoghurt
Greek yoghurt…one of my favourite protein food staples of all time. A true MVP due to it’s versatility and protein quantity. I always recommend trying to choose the high protein version such as the Chobani brand of yoghurt as this ensures you not only get some protein but that the yoghurt can take care of any gaps in total protein intake that you may be trying to fill. All in all, you can’t go wrong with yoghurt as a food staple, even if just for the calcium hit it also provides you.
#10: Skim Milk
Finally, we have the last of the list and one which I still feel is underrated because it’s rarely talked about and many don’t consider the fact it provides a good dose of protein goodness. Milk (especially skim milk), is a food staple that can be the cherry on top of the sundae when helping you hit your macros in a easy and nourishing way. Whether you drink it by the glass as a snack or meal top-up, or whether you add it to foods such as cereal and oats to fortify it - milk can be the using hero of your dietary protein optimisation game.
Now you know 10 protein foods you can simply and literally “plug n play” into your nutrition plan from today and start eating much more protein and improving your dietary balance.
Eating enough protein is important for a number of different reasons as a active person - from building or retaining muscle to improving recovery and energy levels. Therefore, you can say that protein optimisation will help with performance optimisation which is always a much desired outcome.
Now go and choose some protein foods from above and start including them in your repertoire and start seeing how much easier it actually is to level up your protein game.
Out of curiosity though….
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Brisbane Sports Dietitian & Nutritionist
Hi there! My name's Aleksa Gagic - i'm a Brisbane Sports Dietitian & Brisbane Sports Nutritionist. I have 7+ years experience in providing professional nutrition consulting and want to help you learn about the power of flexible nutrition.