Proteins: foods, benefits, how to consume and diet

 Proteins: foods, benefits, how to consume and diet

Lena Fisher
Reviewed by Vanessa Losano Nutritionist CRN-3 34283

Proteins are molecules made up of amino acids and play an important role in the development of cells and tissues, hormones, and the construction and maintenance of all our organs and tissues.

These amino acids are divided into essential ones, those that we need to consume in the diet: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. And the non-essential ones, those produced by the body. Thus, both types are fundamental for the body's functioning.

With the right combination of foods it is possible to achieve good levels of amino acids. That is, even without eating meat, as in the case of vegetarians or vegans. But, it is important to maintain the balance to avoid indisposition, low immunity, or loss of muscle mass.

Proteins: Indicated daily amount

Ideally, protein should be consumed between every meal, so that the protein is absorbed throughout the day. In other words, the daily requirement recommended by the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances) is 0.8g/kg of body weight. Following a balanced diet, this amount would avoid any complications caused by deficiency.

An important piece of information is that the body does not store excess protein or amino acids, i.e., there is no point in exaggerating the intake because a hyper-protein diet leads to fat accumulation and kidney overload.

Types of proteins

Animal protein: high biological value, all the amino acids the body needs

Example: beef, chicken meat, fish, grilled salmon, cheese, eggs, dairy products.

Vegetable protein: lower biological value, some missing amino acids

Example: lentils, peas, beans, rice, tofu, quinoa, and soybeans.

Proteins: nutrient-rich foods

Soybeans (34g of protein per 100g)

Soy is an important vegetable protein, but it is necessary to be aware of intolerance to it. Because most of the production is transgenic, most people are still not used to digesting this food. Thus, the ideal is not to consume in excess.

Shrimp (24g of protein per 100g)

Shrimp is rich in protein, but should not be eaten daily, because it has higher cholesterol than other options, such as some fish. On the other hand, it has omega 3 (good fat). Thus, it is recommended to eat it up to twice a week, preferably steamed.

Chicken (23g of protein per 100g)

To make it even healthier, the orientation is to give preference to consuming it without the skin, and especially the breast, to avoid the exaggerated ingestion of fat. The best ways to prepare it are roasted or grilled, but a tip is to eat it with salads.

Salmon (21.62g of protein per 100g)

For fans of intense physical activity, such as weight training, salmon is even more important, because it provides faster muscle recovery, thanks to the amount of omega 3 it contains. It is ideal to eat it grilled or baked. For a healthy diet, it can be served with brown rice and broccoli.

Almonds (21.1g of protein per 100g)

Protein has a very important characteristic: it gives satiety, so when we can put a little more protein in our diet, it takes longer to feel hungry. Five to six units of almonds before meals helps to fight hunger.

Red meat (21g of protein per 100g)

A source of protein, red meat is also rich in saturated fats. Prefer the lean options, with no apparent fat. The ideal is to eat it, on average, three times a week. Meats, in general, are sources of protein that are also responsible for forming collagen and keratin, thus giving strength to your hair, preventing hair loss and baldness.

Fish (20g of protein per 100g)

With no contraindications, it is best to choose preparation in the oven, boiling, or on the grill. Consuming fish that have scales and fins, such as herring, salmon, guinea fowl, cod, and tuna, is a great choice, because the scales act as a barrier to the absorption of toxins.

Tofu (8.1 g protein per 100g)

It can be added to the diet unprocessed But it is recommended to choose only one serving of soy-based food to consume daily: one cup of soy milk or half a cup of tofu (soy cheese) or 100g of cooked soybeans (five tablespoons).

Cow's milk (8g of protein per 100g)

Milk and its derivatives, such as cheese and yogurt, help to enrich meals because they are composed of three practically equal parts of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats - making them very complete foods, according to the nutrologist.

Eggs (6g per unit)

Eggs are also rich in vitamin B12, necessary to promote the reduction of fat levels and help in the formation of muscles, in choline (excellent substance for the good functioning of the brain) and in albumin. Prefer the consumption in its cooked form, especially the yolk, because this avoids problems with the Salmonella bacteria. Avoid the fried form or accompanied by a lot of cheese, so as not toraise cholesterol.

Protein and muscle mass

Most people have long associated protein with muscle mass gain - and the association is correct. For, strength-based exercise causes the breakdown of protein in muscle tissue. And, for muscles to become stronger, protein needs to be rebuilt. Leucine, a type of amino acid, plays a particularly important role in this process, triggering theprotein synthesis.

Some experts even argue that not consuming protein after exercise can cause the breakdown (of protein) in the muscle to be greater than the synthesis - meaning that there will be no gain in muscle mass.

Proteins and Weight Loss

Protein also has a relationship with weight loss. That is, low-carbohydrate diets (l ow-carb ) and rich in protein, such as Paleo and Atkins, promise to prolong the feeling of satiety.

In general, people can't lose weight because they feel hungry, and studies show that a high-protein breakfast can help reduce food cravings throughout the day.

How to consume protein without having to eat meat

Dairy products

Milk, cheese, and yogurt are not only very tasty, but are also great allies in the diet. However, try to opt for skimmed versions and white cheese - yellow cheese contains a lot of saturated fat.


A simple chicken egg can contain up to 9 grams of protein, in addition to several health-giving nutrients. However, it is important to pay attention to the way of preparation. It is good to avoid eggs fried with too much oil and totally "well-done". When the edges start to burn, it is a sign of excess saturated fat.

Also, overcooking eggs can lead to vitamin saturation.


Grains are foods rich in fiber, which improve the digestive process and give that feeling of satiety. Did you know that rice and beans make a great protein combination? In addition, we can also vary the menu with corn, peas, and lentils.


They may not be exact substitutes for meat, but they help the protein from other foods to be better absorbed in your intestines, and because they are rich in water and fiber, they make digestion easier.

Protein diet: menu and how to lose weight

Protein common mistakes

Famous for eliminating those pesky extra pounds, activating the metabolism and contributing to the maintenance of lean mass, the protein diet is nothing more than an eating plan that encourages a drastic reduction in the intake of carbohydrates to focus on protein and lose weight (lose weight with Tecnonutri) .

Protein Proposal

The principle diet is based on the premise that by excluding carbohydrate consumption, the body is forced to use fat reserves as an energy source, and thus weight loss and the "dry belly" effect occur.

In addition, carbohydrates stimulate the production of insulin, a hormone that, among other functions, causes hunger.

Thus, by decreasing the nutrient, consequently, there will be a decrease in the hormone, making the person feel less hungry. These are the explanations for the fast weight loss provided to those who follow the diet.

How to do it

How do you feel without potatoes, rice, noodles or bread? If the answer is that the large presence of meats on the menu will give you a greater feeling of satiety and that restricting these carbohydrate-rich foods will not be missed much, go ahead.

Initially, it will be necessary to adapt to a smaller variety of foods, especially in the first phase of the diet. After the first phase, new foods can be added, giving preference to whole grain foods such as whole wheat bread, whole grain rice, whole grain pasta, etc. However, the diet plan does not exclude the intake of vegetables and fruits.Alcoholic beverages are prohibited, including wine.

The traditional composition of diets are 55% to 60% carbohydrates, less than 30% fats, and 15% protein, so the suggestion for designing a diet with higher protein content would be to reduce the amount of carbohydrates in the diet to 40 to 50% and increase the proportion of protein from 22 to 45% of the total energy value.

Also read: Paleolithic Diet: Know what to eat and how it works

Action through metabolism

  • Proteins are slow-digesting nutrients, which can help prolong the feeling of satiety.
  • There is no limitation on the amount of food, only the types of food are restricted.
  • Short-term weight reduction, but not necessarily fat, mass loss occurs as well.
  • With the drastically limited consumption of carbohydrates, intake below the recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is 55 to 75% of total calories of the day, the body tends to convert fat into energy leading to the release of ketone bodies, components that at high levels can be harmful to cells, besides causing bad breath.
  • Followers of the diet are also exposed to dizziness, weakness, and fainting, and often suffer from constipation due to low fiber intake.
  • Because of the large consumption of protein foods, the amount of saturated fats and cholesterol is high to the point of contributing to raise the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL - cholesterol). That is, and favor the occurrence of cardiovascular problems.
  • Finally, excessive protein consumption can also lead to kidney overload, and if sustained over the long term, there is a risk of developing kidney failure.

Phases of the Protein Diet

The Protein Diet generally has a four-phase process:


For two weeks meat, cheese, and other high-fat products are forbidden while only low-carb vegetables are allowed, such as broccoli, tomatoes, and lettuce, even then limited to three small portions a day.

Continuous Weight Loss

The goal of this stage is to figure out how much carbohydrates you can eat and still lose weight, so the amount of vegetables can be higher. So this stage lasts until you are within three to five pounds of your ideal weight.


In this phase you find out how much carbohydrate you can eat without gaining weight. You can add ten grams of carbohydrate per day. But, this phase lasts two to three months.


The goal is to maintain the eating habits of the previous phases, with about 100 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Foods allowed in the protein diet

The foods that can be eaten on the protein diet include those rich in protein, as well as vegetables, legumes, and others:

  • Fish : tuna, cod and sashimi
  • Seafood : shrimp, lobster, crab and mussels
  • Meats : all cuts of chicken, poultry, pork and beef
  • Milk Derivatives : cheese, yogurt, curd
  • Vegetables : parsley, cabbage, chicory, onion, lettuce, watercress, spinach, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, chard, asparagus, and green salad
  • In addition, vegetables : green beans, chayote, tomatoes, carrots, vegetable soup, bell peppers, green zucchini, radish, okra, cucumber, turnip, eggplant, and mushroom
  • Other : salt, eggs, omelet, diet gelatin, pepper, olives with seasoning, olive oil, butter, margarine, lemon and jiló
  • Finally, drinks : tea, decaffeinated coffee, sparkling water, diet tonic water, and natural water.
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Lena Fisher

Lena Fisher is a wellness enthusiast, certified nutritionist, and author of the popular health and well-being blog. With over a decade of experience in the field of nutrition and health coaching, Lena has dedicated her career to helping people achieve their optimal health and live their best life possible. Her passion for wellness has led her to explore various approaches to achieving overall health, including diet, exercise, and mindfulness practices. Lena's blog is a culmination of her years of research, experience, and personal journey towards finding balance and well-being. Her mission is to inspire and empower others to make positive changes in their lives and embrace a healthy lifestyle. When she's not writing or coaching clients, you can find Lena practicing yoga, hiking the trails, or experimenting with new healthy recipes in the kitchen.