The average healthy adult should obtain 50 to 60 percent of her daily caloric intake from carbohydrates, around 30 percent from fat and 12 to 20 percent from protein. If you want to boost protein consumption, you still need to ensure that you're getting enough nutrients from each other category. A simple high-protein meal plan should incorporate a variety of lean proteins along with whole grains, low- or nonfat dairy, heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Start Out Strong at Breakfast
Breakfast on a heart-healthy, high-protein, low-fat diet that provides 2,000 calories a day might consist of a cup of nonfat milk, one whole-wheat bagel paired with a boiled or poached egg and a glass of 100 percent fruit juice. Together, the milk and egg provide 14.6 grams of protein. While eggs are nutritious, limit yourself to four whole eggs per week, including eggs in baked goods or other dishes, for less cholesterol. If you have high blood cholesterol, use egg whites or a commercial egg substitute instead.
Try Lean Poultry for Lunch
A simple lunch supplying approximately 35 grams of protein could feature 4 ounces of cooked boneless, skinless poultry such as chicken breast served with 1 cup of cooked whole-wheat pasta, 2 cups of steamed, grilled or roasted mixed vegetables and a piece of whole fruit. Vegans and vegetarians can replace the poultry with 1 cup of grilled tofu, which provides 40 grams of protein and no cholesterol. Limit your use of added fats when cooking; when you do use them, choose vegetable oils like olive, canola, safflower or sunflower oil.
Go for Fish at Dinner
By including more fish and less red meat like beef or pork in your high-protein diet, you'll consume less saturated fat and get plenty of the omega-3 fatty acids that can help prevent high blood cholesterol and heart disease. A 4-ounce serving of roasted or grilled salmon, 1 cup of cooked brown rice and 1 cup of cooked dark leafy greens followed by a dessert of fresh fruit is a dinner that would supply around 29 grams of protein. Aim to have at least two 3.5-ounce servings of low-mercury fish each week.
Don't Forget Dairy at Snacktime
Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese are excellent sources of calcium as well as high in protein. For example, a 1-cup serving of plain yogurt can supply as much as 12 grams of protein. Use a milk-based smoothie; yogurt topped with dry-roasted, unsalted nuts and seeds; or cubes of cheese with raw vegetable sticks as quick snacks during the midmorning and late afternoon when you're feeling hungry. Because whole-milk dairy is also high in saturated fat, pick low- or nonfat products.
- Group Health: Balancing Carbs, Protein and Fat
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Pounds Lost Study Sample One-Day Menus 2,000 Calorie Version
- MedlinePlus: Heart Disease and Diet
- American Heart Association: Fish 101
- Harvard School of Public Health: Protein -- Moving Closer to Center Stage
- UCSF Medical Center: ILD Nutrition Manual -- Sample Menu: High-Calorie and High-Protein Meals
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Yogurt, Plain, Low Fat, 12 Grams Protein per 8 Ounce
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Milk, Nonfat, Fluid, With Added Vitamin A and Vitamin D (Fat Free or Skim)
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Egg, Whole, Cooked, Hard-Boiled
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Chicken, Broiler or Fryers, Breast, Skinless, Boneless, Meat Only, Cooked, Grilled