18 Metabolism-Boosting Foods

Mix and match these protein-rich sources to score 20 to 30 g at each meal

Prevention:

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How much protein do you need?

New research suggests that many of us may need more protein than we realize. The current RDA is 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, but several studies have found that 1 to 1.2 g may be more protective against age-related muscle loss.

Use this formula from Caroline Apovian, MD, to determine the minimum amount of protein you should eat daily to offset muscle loss—and protect your metabolism—while you lose weight.

STEP 1
Estimate your ideal weight. “If you’re a woman, start with 100 pounds for the first 5 feet in height, and add 5 pounds for every extra inch,” says Dr. Apovian. “For men, it’s 106 pounds for 5 feet in height, plus 6 pounds for every additional inch. However, if your ideal weight is less than 120 pounds, don’t eat less than 82 g of protein daily.”

STEP 2
Ideal Weight (in lb) ÷ 2.2 = Ideal Weight (in kg)

STEP 3
Ideal Weight (in kg) × 1.5 = Daily Protein Goal (in g)

Now that you know how much you need, check out these metabolism-boosting protein-packed foods.

01-avocado

Avocado

Protein content: 2 g per half avocado

The protein in this fruit contains all 9 essential amino acids, plus heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

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02-cheese-milk

Cheese and milk

Protein content: 6-7 g per oz; 9-10 g per 1 cup

Go for low-fat options—they generally contain more protein than fattier alternatives.

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03-tempeh

Tempeh

Protein content: 15 g per 1/2 cup

Its nougatlike texture makes tempeh a smart stand-in for meat. Sauté, or crumble cooked tempeh over salads.

04-asparagus

Asparagus

Protein content: 4 g per 1 cup (chopped)

This tasty veggie is a nutrient powerhouse. Enjoy it steamed or grilled, or toss chopped spears into salads.

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05-legumes

Legumes

Protein content: 7-9 g per 1/2 cup (cooked)

Pair dried beans (think black beans, chickpeas, and lentils) with rice or quinoa for a complete-protein meal.

06-greek-yogurt

Greek-style yogurt

Protein content: 18 g per 6 oz

This thick and creamy treat packs nearly twice as much protein as other dairy sources; it’s great with fruit.

07-treenuts

Tree Nuts

Protein content: 4-6 g per 2 Tbsp

A small handful of walnuts or almonds is great as a snack, mixed into yogurt or oatmeal, or on a salad.

08-edamame

Edamame

Protein content: 8.5 g per 1/2 cup (shelled)

A single serving packs nearly every trace mineral your body needs, including iron, magnesium, and zinc.

09-whey-protein

Whey protein

Protein content: 24 g per 1 oz

Add a scoop to smoothies or water for a quick protein hit. Avoiding animal products? Try soy protein powder.

10-spinach

Spinach

Protein content: 5 g per 1 cup (cooked)

Of all the leafy greens, spinach boasts the highest protein content. Try it sautéed with a bit of garlic.

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11-tofu

Tofu

Protein content: 12 g per 3 oz

Made from soybeans, this low-cal, versatile protein will take on any flavor, from Asian to barbecue.

12-fish

Fish and shellfish

Protein content: 28 g per 4 oz

Whether it’s salmon, halibut, or tuna, seafood is a great catch. Aim for 3 to 5 servings a week.

13-pseudograins

Pseudograins

Protein content: 5-9 g per 1 cup (cooked)

These hearty, grain-like seeds (quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat) have more protein than traditional grains.

14-eggs

Eggs

Protein content: 12 g per 2 eggs; 14 g per 4 egg whites

However you prepare them, eggs and egg whites are smart fuel for muscles.

15-poultry-pork

Poultry and pork

Protein content: 28 g per 4 oz

Family favorites like skinless chicken and pork make it easy to score plenty of protein at each meal.

16-hemp-seeds

Hemp seeds

Protein content: 10 g per 2 Tbsp

Great for soups and salads, these seeds have 8 of the 9 essential amino acids that build muscle.

17-cottage-cheese

Cottage cheese

Protein content: 14 g per 1/2 cup

Eating a scoop doesn’t mean you’re on a diet–it means you’re muscle savvy. Try adding it to smoothies.

18-beef

Beef

Protein content: 28 g per 4 oz

Look for the absolute leanest cuts, like round roast or top sirloin. Try bison for a leaner red-meat alternative.

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