Protein – Health Benefits, Deficiency and 22 Food Source Of Protein

Except for water, proteins are the most abundant substances found in our body. They are involved in nearly every task. We need protein to repair and maintain body tissues such as skin, hair, muscles, eyes, and organs. Moreover, they are needed to transport and store molecules such as oxygen, iron, and hemoglobin. Next to carbs, it’s a major source of energy and it is needed to regulate and create hormones and enzymes, too.

What Is Protein?

Protein is a molecule that is made up of amino acids. Twenty different types of amino acids exist to make up many different structures of protein in the form of chains. Since some of these amino acids cannot be made by your body, they are considered to be essential amino acids. Protein from animal foods is considered complete proteins because they contain all of the essential amino acids needed by your body. Protein from plant sources is incomplete, meaning that these foods only contain some of the essential amino acids that your body needs.

Health Benefits Of Proteins

Signs Of Protein Deficiency

1.You Cannot Concentrate

As a matter of fact, you need to keep your blood levels steady so you can stay focused. Without protein, your blood sugar levels go up and down constantly. Moreover, you will find it hard to concentrate on anything.

Your brain needs a stable stream of carbohydrates so it can work efficiently. Eating adequate protein facilitates the time-release of carbohydrates so that you do not run out. Without protein to do this function, you will simply have fleeting blasts of mental energy. When the bursts pass on, your brain has a tough time staying alert.

2.Constant Food Cravings

You might assume a protein shortage would create a hankering for a hamburger or T-bone steak. Experts, however, have found that without the protein necessary to steady your blood sugar, your body instead looks for a more immediate solution. Translation: craving candy and other junk food to fill the gaps.

3.Muscle And Joint Pain

Protein is critical for building and rebuilding muscle tissue, so it makes sense that a deficiency would cause muscle pain. A research has shown that protein also plays a pivotal role in the synovial fluid that surrounds joints, preventing them from wear and tear. When dietary protein is lacking, the body pulls from its reserves in both the muscles and joints. As a result, muscles tighten and ache, and joints stiffen.

4.Thin Hair And Nails

Sure, many factors (including genetics) play into thinning hair, especially as we age. But regardless of your DNA, hair and nails are made up almost entirely of protein and are strong indicators for even the slightest deficiency. Hair prone to splitting or breaking and brittle or ridged nails can indicate a lack of protein in your diet.

5.Poor Bone Health

How much protein you get, or don’t get, also affects your body’s calcium levels. If you’re consuming a diet too low in protein, that can negatively impact the ability of your digestive tract to absorb this mineral, which results in a higher excretion of it into your urine. The net effect is that too little calcium is taken up by the body, which means it may look to your skeletal system as a backup source since the cells must have a critical level of calcium for proper functioning.

6.Edema (swelling)

Protein plays an integral role in keeping excess fluids from accumulating in tissues as blood travels through the body. Research has shown that when protein levels are insufficient, fluid tends to build up in tissue. Its most notable in hands, feet, ankles, and cheeks.

7.Frequent Illnesses

Are you otherwise in good health but find yourself using all your sick days every year? More protein could be your best prescription. Protein is key to a strong immune system. It’s the foundation of red blood cells, white blood cells, and antibodies. All of these work together to fend off bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens in your body.

8.You Lose Muscle Tone And Strength

You need protein to build and maintain strong muscles. If you do not get enough protein, you lose muscle tone and strength. Moreover, your joints become stiff and your muscles, tight and sore. Further, you tend to feel weak. You may not be able to perform your workout and exercise routines with your usual form and power.

9.You Are Moody

Protein stabilizes your blood sugar. Without it, you are likely to go through a roller coaster of highs and lows in energy and mood. You find it tough to handle stress calmly. Moreover, you also find it difficult to sleep.

The Recommended Dietary Protein Intake Is as Follows

  • For men: 55.5g to 56.5g daily
  • For women: 45.5g to 46.5g daily
  • For endurance athletes: 1.2g to 1.4g per kg body weight daily
  • For strength athletes: 1.2g to 1.7g per kg body weight daily.

Types of Protein

There are two basic types of protein: complete and incomplete.

Complete proteins are animal-based proteins which provide all of the essential amino acids in a single source.

Incomplete proteins, as the term implies, do not supply all amino acids. Fortunately, you can find complementary sources which together, provide all the essentials for your diet.

Top 22 Protein-Rich Food Sources

When we think about increasing the protein intake in our diet, we tend to turn to red meat. However, there are many other foods that can provide us with considerable quantities of this nutrient.


One large egg contains approximately 13g of protein. Eggs are one of the most conveniently available food options, which not only fulfills protein requirements but also contributes towards other important nutrients like healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.

2.Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has a very thick creamy consistency and tastes delicious! For every 6 ounces of Greek yogurt, your body will be enriched with 17g of protein and 100 calories.

3.Cottage Cheese

Consumption of a half-cup of cottage cheese will amount to 13g of protein. This is definitely a good option to add as a core ingredient of your meal if you’re a vegetarian.

4.Milk/Soy milk

Soy Milk or Percent Milk are the options you can choose from. One cup of either contains about 8g of protein, while the calorie consumption is approximately 138 and 141 respectively.


Tofu is another great substitute for meats. It contains a high level of magnesium, protein, iron and other important nutrients.

6.Ezekiel Bread

Ezekiel bread has high nutritional value. These types of bread are made with a mix of legumes like barley, millet, wheat, soybean, lentils, whole grains, and sprouts. Each slide of bread contains 4g of protein.


A cup of Oats provides about 26g of proteins and contains about 605 calories. This will help you achieve ~50 percent of your protein requirement per day. It also contains soluble fibre which helps in avoiding coronary heart diseases.


Along with keeping your memory sharp and increasing its retention power, almonds are a great source of fibre and protein, providing the right amount of nutrition that your body requires. Almonds are amongst the best options when it comes to choosing nuts that are low on the calorie meter and fat content. In fact, almonds are credited with helping to maintain a healthy heart and a balanced weight, too. If you’re working out a lot, almonds are something you should definitely add to your diet regularly.

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Pistachios are loaded with protein, fiber, and folate. One cup of pistachios contains about 26g of protein. Also, the fiber makes you feel full and reduces the urge to overeat.

10.Pumpkin seeds

These seeds are a rich source of magnesium, iron, protein, and zinc. Zinc is an important nutrient which enhances immunity and prevents prostate cancer.

11.Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a healthier option to add to your daily dose of breakfast. You will be able to cover 8g of your protein requirement with two spoons of peanut butter.


This is one of the best vegetables to be included in your diet. Broccoli is full of important nutrients – apart from protein, it’s a rich source for phytochemicals which help in preventing cancer. Also, the high-level soluble fiber helps in regulating blood glucose and cholesterol.


In addition to its high fiber content, a serving of corn packs a solid protein punch. Best eaten fresh from the cob, you can also get the benefits off-season through frozen or canned kernels.

14.Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are rich in fiber, vitamin C along with moderate amounts of protein. Half a cup of sprouts (about 80 g) contains 28 calories and 2g of protein.


Lentils are a form of legumes and the world’s best plant-based source of proteins for vegans and vegetarians. Along with protein, they are also very rich in fiber, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, and folate. They have as high as 10% protein content.

16.Chicken Breast

Skinless chicken breast is very rich in protein and very low in fats. Half a chicken breast contains close to 26-28g of protein (protein content varies with size). The chicken bones can also be used to prepare bone broth, which is a rich source of protein as well.


Fish not only provide omega 3 fatty acids, but also contain considerable amounts of protein. It is estimated that an 85 gram portion provides around 27 grams of protein.


Shrimps are a very rich source of protein along with selenium, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. It is a readily available seafood which contains about 18g of protein and only 84 calories in an 85g serving.

19.Pork Chops

Pork chops are an important source of protein and zinc as well. One pork chops contain 39g of protein and about 285 calories, which means it will meet approximately 76% of your daily protein requirement.

20.Lean Beef

It is also known as ground beef and is a good source of Iron, Vitamin B12, protein and amino acids, which helps in reducing blood pressure and in protecting and building muscles. It contains about 7.6g of protein per ounce.

21.Turkey breast

A slice of turkey contains more protein in it than another kind of meat, plus have minimal calorie content.


It is known for being the low-calorie and low-cholesterol protein source. Tuna also contains a high level of Vitamin B which helps with blood circulation.

The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.

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