7 Foods That Are Surprisingly High in Protein

Think you’re getting enough protein in your diet? Well, you may want to think again — Donald Layman, Ph.D. and professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois tells Men’s Health that while the recommended daily intake of protein for adults should be around 56 grams, our bodies could use even more than this. Though protein is well known for its ability to help build and repair muscle, its benefits reach far and beyond just muscle tissue. Protein is also known to curb hunger, and it helps to prevent diabetes and heart disease. Even if you’re not looking to build muscle and just want to drop a few pounds, eating plenty of high-protein foods is still of the utmost importance, as it can help preserve lean muscle mass that will help you burn more calories in the long run.

So, how much protein should you be getting? You should be looking at your workout regimen and weight to determine this, though you should also consider that men who work out for 45 minutes to an hour three to five days per week should be consuming .45 grams of protein per pound. This comes down to about 80 grams of protein a day if you’re a man around 180 pounds, though you should calculate less than this if you do not work out as much or you weigh less. Ladies need slightly less, but it really depends on activity level. You should also work to eat high-protein foods throughout the day, as this will continually fuel your muscles and keep your hunger at bay.

Your protein intake is all relative to your lifestyle and your level of fitness, so don’t turn your diet on autopilot and assume you’re getting enough from one protein shake. Though you may already know that fish, chicken, and lean beef are high-protein foods, the following seven ingredients are also contenders.

1. Soybeans

soybeans

Soybeans | iStock.com

While there are other beans on the market that also have quite a bit of protein, it is the humble soybean that really gives you the most benefits. FitDay explains how the soybean is the only vegetable to contain all nine amino acids that our bodies require. Amino acids are just a single component of protein, as they are the building blocks for tissue and muscle, and it’s important to get essential amino acids through our food, as our body cannot produce them naturally. Soybeans are so rich in protein that they produce more than two times as much protein per acre than any other vegetable.

One cup of edamame (immature soybeans that are a fantastic snack when steamed) offers 22 grams of protein, a quarter of your daily calcium, and half of your recommended amount of vitamin C and folate, according to Fitness. You can get the benefits of soybeans from many foods such as soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and miso soup, a Japanese staple made from a fermented soybean paste.