Lean Protein Foods List – Overview
To fully grow and develop a healthy body requires a nutritious diet. One key component of nutrition is protein. Protein is an essential macronutrient that completes your body. It nourishes and breathes life in cells.
Your hair, bones, nails, joints, and even your healthy immune system are built with the help of protein.
What is Lean Protein?
Lean protein is high-level protein minus extra fat and calories. Essentially, it provides enough protein required for your body but keeps unnecessary saturated fat and calories at bay.
Traditional Protein vs Lean Protein
Sources of popular protein contain high fats and calories per serving. Consuming protein-rich food with high levels of fats and calories can lead to cardiovascular diseases, kidney stones, liver function disorders, and weight gain.
Research pointed out that people who consumed high-level protein, specifically red meat, had higher chances of death caused by chronic health issues.
The side effects of traditional Protein sources gave prominence to lean protein.
According to USDA, a lean protein is defined as a food with (in a 3.5ounce portion):
- 10 grams of total fat
- 5 grams of saturated fat,
- fewer than 95 milligrams of cholesterol
An easy-to-remember definition is that lean protein is any food source with 2-3 grams of fat per ounce. It also has fewer calories per serving. Hence, it’s healthier to consume lean protein with heart-friendly fat sources.
Lean Protein Foods List with Macros
10 Best Lean Protein Foods List
1. Lean Ground Beef
When it comes to cutting fat from your diet and losing weight, your first thought is to shun beef completely. But don’t worry; lean beef is your friendly neighbor.
Lean ground beef is a healthier version of traditional beef. According to reports, 4 oz of lean ground beef has 27-gram protein, 3.49 grams of saturated fat, and 170 calories. What’s more, it provides you with a surprising 2.4 mcg of Vit B12 and 2.7mg of iron, helping your body to produce new blood cells.
Despite the bad reputation that red meat has acclaimed over the years, a balanced 90% lean beef can become a significant part of your diet. Loaded with minerals and vitamins, it’s a brilliant source of lean protein and is best to have a week thrice.
2. Beans and Legumes
A great source of lean plant-based protein, beans and legumes is cholesterol free, It also boasts high levels of fiber, and antioxidants to reduce heart diseases and safeguard from high blood pressure.
As per USDA, ½ cup of chickpeas provides 10gram of protein, no saturated fat, 160 calories, and 5gram of fiber.
If you are a lentil person, you need ¼ cup to get 11 grams of protein, no saturated fat, 0.9 gram of total fat, and 10 gram of fiber. Lentil wins the game here.
Legumes have been proven to have numerous scientific benefits. Legumes lower high blood pressure help control weight and help reduce the risk of diabetes (type 2).
You will be surprised to know that fatty fish i.e. Salmon is actually a good source of lean protein and also boasts anti-inflammatory properties like Omega-3 fatty acids that help with fighting depression and anxiety, promoting brain health, and improving bone and joint health.
A 3.5 oz of Salmon provides a good 20 grams of protein, less than 6 grams of fat, and 140 calories as per USDA.
You can enjoy your fish grilled, steamed, and baked with rice, salads, and veggies on your side. This will give you the added benefit of minerals and vitamins in salad and veggies.
A favorite of the vegan community, tofu is a soybean product and a famous plant-based protein. What’s great is that tofu is completely cholesterol free!
The USDA states that a serving of 3 oz provides you 8 grams of protein, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 4.5gram of total fat, and 79 calories. As an added surprise, 3 oz of tofu also provides 150 mg of calcium and 1.44 mg of iron, making your need for better bone health complete!
5. Low Fat Milk
When we talk about lean protein, low-fat milk instantly comes to our minds. As per USDA, a cup of delicious plain low-fat milk contains 10 grams of protein, 1.51 grams of saturated fat, 2.5 gram of total fat, and 120 calories.
Moreover, low-fat milk is a great source of calcium. One cup of low-fat milk will provide you with a whopping 250 mg of calcium.
You can enjoy your cup of low-fat milk as plain, add banana, cacao powder, and cinnamon to make a smoothie, or add it in cereals or oats.
6. Whole Eggs and Egg White
Ask a kindergarten, a school teacher, a concerned parent, or a nutritionist about the importance of eggs, and you will have a plethora of answers.
As per USDA, a whole egg provides 6.24 grams of protein, 1.61 grams of saturated fat, 5.01 grams of total fat, and 74.4 calories. An egg white provides 3.6 grams of protein, no saturated fat, 0.05 gram of total fat, and 17 calories.
Out of the two, egg whites seem to be the better option if your goal is to lose weight and avoid unhealthy fat.
Eggs are a wonderful source of protein and provide vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and a good boost of antioxidants. They also increase the good cholesterol aka HDL, to help your heart fight the bad guys.
A brilliant and versatile seafood lean protein source is shrimp. Easy to cook, a 3.5 oz of shrimp contains 20 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat, and 85 calories.
You can enjoy grilled shrimp, baked and served with veggies, salads, and pasta. You can even make it into an Asian coconut shrimp curry.
Shrimp is the ultimate protein-rich food that cooks easily, provides nutrients, and tastes delicious.
8. Low-fat/Greek Yogurt
A good source of lean protein is low-fat yogurt. According to the USDA, ½ cup of plain yogurt provides 3 grams of protein, 1 gram of saturated fat, 1.5 gram of total fat, and 35 grams of calories.
Strain Greek yogurt, on the other hand, is another great source of lean protein. Generally, 1 container of low-fat plain Greek yogurt provides 16 grams of protein, 0.6 grams of fat, 0.2 grams of saturated fat, and 95 calories.
Moreover, yogurt can act as a probiotic by adding live cultures to your cup, helping your gut flourish. Yogurt is the easiest snack to have. You can add chia seeds, high-fiber fruits, and dry fruits to get more minerals and vitamins.
You are advised to eat plain yogurt over flavored ones to avoid unnecessary sugar.
9. Lean Pork
You may not know it, but lean Pork is also a good source of lean protein. A 3.5 oz portion will fetch you 21 grams of protein, less than 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 9.8 grams of total fat, and 71 calories.
Sirloin, pork roast, and tenderloin are some examples of lean cuts of proms.
You can enjoy lean pork with a sweet and savory flavor. You can grill, bake, or pressure cook the pork with your preferred BBQ sauce and marinades.
Do you love rice but need something leaner? Introducing you to quinoa, ¼ cup of uncooked quinoa provides 6 grams of protein, no saturated fat, 2.5 gram of total fat, and 170 calories. It also provides 3 grams of fiber as per USDA.
Quinoa is a modern superfood as it is a complete protein source. It provides all nine essential amino acids that are body needs but cannot create on its own. Other benefits, such as protection against diabetes, managing weight, and offering a lower glycemic index than regular rice, make it highly popular.
Lean protein sources should be your preferred protein since it has fewer levels of saturated fat and calories. Lean protein food sources can provide high-level protein minus all the negativity.
You can have a plant or meat-based lean protein source according to your liking. Add a healthy source of heart-friendly fat and carbs to get complete macronutrients.