If you are tired of chewing on protein bars, then here’s the good news. There are plenty of better, tastier and healthier ways to get your protein fix.
Expert Nery Alaev is going to give us his pick of the best natural sources of protein in a moment. But first, why do we need protein at all?
„Protein is a fundamental part of how our body grows and repairs itself,” explains Nery. „When we exercise, we damage and tear our muscles, joints and ligaments. Protein plays a big role in repairing that damage. Although remember that protein alone doesn’t give us huge muscles. We get that from exercising them.”
Natural sources of protein
With that in mind, what foods does Nery recommend to get natural protein?
„I never tire of eating eggs!” says Nery. “After a run or some hard exercise, a poached egg with something like avocado on toast is a simple and healthy recovery food. The avocado is low fat, and packed with vitamins, while the egg is a fantastic source of protein.”
Talking of low fat, Nery warns us against maxing out on the red meat in pursuit of protein.
“A lot of people do it, when they’re trying to add more protein to their diet. And they end up eating far too much red meat,“ says Nery. „It’s tempting, because red meat does contain a lot of protein. The problem is it is also high in saturated fats which can clog your arteries over time.“
“My advice is to go for a leaner white meat like turkey. It makes a change from chicken and is still a good source of protein. And it has far fewer bad fats than red meats,“ says Nery.
Fish and seafood
“Living in Austria is wonderful, but it is land locked, meaning I don’t eat as much fresh fish and seafood as I’d like,” says Nery. “But I do try as often as I can because both are fantastic natural, low fat sources of protein.
“Fresh fish is also packed with lots of Omega-3 – one of the key nutrients that helps to keep your heart healthy.”
Fresh green vegetables
“Vegetables are a great source of fibre and vitamins – and broccoli in particular is rich in protein.
“I’m a firm believer that a multi-coloured plate of food is always a far healthier plate than a brown one! So, broccoli is a great way of getting some green on your dish, giving yourself lots of vitamins and minerals, and plenty of protein too.“
„I start every day with a bowl of low-fat Greek yogurt, fruit and oats,” says Nery. “It makes for the perfect breakfast. Of course, it’s full of calcium and the probiotics that help keep the gut healthy. But it is also a very rich source of healthy protein too.”
“Before you ask, it’s keen-wah!” says Nery. “I love quinoa – it’s a perfect source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, who don’t have the meat, fish or eggs option.
“But it is also super simple to prepare as well. Just double the amount of water to quinoa grains, put it all in a saucepan and cook it without a lid until it’s all absorbed. The quinoa should be nice and fluffy.”
Pulses and beans
“Pulses and beans get a bad press, and people often associate them with bland, stodgy food,” says Nery. “It’s such a shame, because they are among the best natural sources of protein out there. Vegetarians love them as a protein-rich alternative to meat or fish.
“I always try and experiment a little too,“ adds Nery. „I recently made my own hummus and have even tried these fantastic black bean ‚meatballs‘. There are so many options out there.”