You need more protein. Here’s how to get your 56 grams a day for men, and 46 grams for women.
Whether or not you subsist on a ribs-and-burgers diet, or live a vegan lifestyle and carefully balance your vegetable proteins, chances are you need more, especially if you want rapid weight loss.
The Recommended Daily Allowance for men is 56 grams a day, while for women it’s 46 grams. That’s about as much as you’d get in 4 to 5 chicken drumsticks or two large hamburgers. Other ways to reach near those numbers: 2 ½ pork chops, 15 slices of bacon, or an 8-ounce steak.
But that’s still not enough: In a 2015 study in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers found that those who ate twice as much protein as the Recommended Daily Allowance had greater net protein balance and muscle protein synthesis—in other words, it was easier for them to maintain and build muscle, and hence keep their metabolisms revving on high. So even if you eat a burger for lunch and a couple of pork chops for dinner, you’re still coming up short in the protein department. To help you reach your fitness and weight-loss goals, the researchers behind Zero Belly Cookbook uncovered and ranked these 30 best high-protein foods for metabolism. And to get your stomach supertight, don’t miss these 30 Foods That Melt Love Handles!
10 grams per ¼ cup
The king nut when it comes to protein is the humble peanut when you want to lose belly fat. In fact, it tops pecans (2.5 grams), cashews (5 grams) and even almonds (8 grams) in the protein power rankings. Peanuts are also terrific sources of the mood-boosting vitamin folate.
10 grams per ¾ cup
Think of beans as little weight-loss pills, and enjoy them whenever you’d like. One study found that people who ate a ¾ cup of beans daily weighed 6.6 pounds less than those who didn’t, even though the bean eater consumed, on average, 199 more calories per day. Part of the reason is that fiber—from beans and whole grains—helps our bodies (okay, actually the bacteria in our bodies) produce a substance called butyrate, which deactivates the genes that cause insulin insensitivity. Want more?
10 grams per ¼ cup uncooked
Once known as Forbidden Rice because only emperors were allowed to eat it, black rice is one of the hottest new food trends, and for good reason. It’s higher in protein and fiber than its cousin, brown rice.
12.5 grams per ½ cup
Rye is the grain they make pumpernickel from, but it’s also an oft-neglected superfood. Try substituting it for rice (though you’ll need to cook it longer) for a super-potent vegetarian protein side dish, and sprinkle with chia seeds for an extra boost.
14 grams per serving
Traditional wheat pasta is a pretty solid protein player, with 7 grams per serving. But upgrade to Bonanza pasta, made with chickpeas, and you’ll double that number, while also enjoying 8 grams of fiber and only about half the carbs of your average pasta dinner.
5-Vegan Protein Powder
15 to 20 grams per scoop
More and more research is showing that when we add plant proteins to our diets, our bodies respond by shedding fat. In a 2015 study in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation, researchers discovered that patients who ingested higher amounts of vegetable protein were far less susceptible to metabolic syndrome (a disease that ought to be renamed “diabolic syndrome”—it’s basically a combination of high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and obesity). That means eating whole foods from vegetables—and supplementing with vegan protein powder—is one of the best ways to keep extra weight at bay. A second study in Nutrition Journal found that “plant protein intakes may play a role in preventing obesity.” Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake, Vega Sports Performance Protein, and Sunwarrior Warrior Blend are three we love.
22 grams per 3 oz fillet
Often overlooked in favor of its two closest nutritional competitors, tuna, and salmon, halibut is a delicious, firm-meat white fish with a very low level of contaminants. It delivers a gram of protein for every 4.5 calories. Snapper, perch, and cod are also high-protein fish. (And they’re helpful when trying to get your, um, fish to swim upstream.
2-Slow-Roasted Pork Loin
28 grams per 3 oz serving
Pork and beef run about neck-and-neck when it comes to protein. But what we love about pork loin is that it cooks so nicely in a slow cooker, barbecued on low heat, or roasted in the oven—methods you should use more often. When you cook meat at high temperatures, and that includes beef, pork, fish, or poultry, chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are produced. According to a study in Nutrition Journal, increased intake of HCAs causes changes in our gut microbiota that increase our risk to colorectal cancer. Consider slow cookers or long, languid barbecues the healthier alternative to pan-frying or grilling. Now that you know what to eat, keep the fat burn going with these essential