We really are what we eat, that’s why it’s important to consider what nutrients your body gets the most, as well as what nutrients your body isn’t getting enough of.
While it’s important to focus on well-balanced meals and ensure you’re getting an adequate supply of the six essential food groups — Carbohydrates, Proteins, Minerals, Vitamins, Fats and Water— there are immense benefits that come with choosing high-protein foods.
For most people, the big question is “Carbohydrates/Carbs are such a huge part of our everyday meals in Nigeria. What protein meal options do we really have?”
Let Qilo guide you through our list of some of the richest, delicious-tasting protein options to fill your pantry and plates with!
Benefits Of High-Protein Foods
First off, what exactly are High-Protein Foods?
These are foods in which 20% or more of their overall calorie content comes from protein.
Our body requires protein to function at its best, making it an essential nutrient in a balanced diet, therefore, getting an adequate amount during meal-time cannot be overemphasized if you’re intentional about your overall well-being.
Proteins do more than just aid those weight gain goals or help with your weight loss plans.
They’re also important for:
- boosting metabolism which in turn helps in the maintenance of weight loss,
- reducing your hunger levels and keeping your appetite or cravings in check,
- building stronger, healthier bones, increasing your muscle strength and aiding muscle repair,
- stabilizing your blood sugar and reducing blood pressure,
- regulating hormone levels and helping in the development of new cells, and this list is endless!
High Protein Food Options To Pick From In Nigeria
If you’re looking to include more protein-based options in your meal plans, here are some excellent choices to start with:
- Chicken & Turkey Breast: These delicious options are easily a popular pick — they can be prepared in various forms; grilled, baked, stir-fried — and more recently, air-fried! While they’re both packed with protein, Chicken contains a slightly higher amount of protein ( 3-ounce of cooked chicken contains about 25g of protein, and 3-ounce of cooked Turkey contains about 24g of protein). These animal-source proteins can be eaten as a main meal or sides, and they’re both great for weight gain or weight loss! Then do we even need to mention how tasty they are?
- Sardines: Looking for a fairly affordable source of protein? You’ve got sardines! This fish is healthy for the heart, and each 3-ounce serving gives you 20 grams of protein. For weight builders, this is definitely a great choice if you’re looking to incorporate more fish into your diet, and according to studies, it’s one of the healthiest fishes to eat too!
- Egusi (Melon Seed): With as much as 12% of its calorie content being protein, melons seeds (popularly known as Egusi) are a rich source of protein and essential amino acids, which are important for the growth of new cells, and even bone/muscle strength. Egusi soup is usually enjoyed with some animal protein (fish, beef, chicken, turkey, or some seafood!), and some carbs swallow on the side.
- Brown Beans/Moimoi/Akara: Brown Beans makes an incredibly nutritious source of protein (one cup serving of brown beans contains over 15g of protein, plus it’s also low in calories!), and there are so many interesting ways to enjoy it. Moimoi (also called Beans Pudding) or Akara (which is known as Beans Cake) are very filling, absolutely delicious and they provide you with a significant amount of protein that your body needs to function optimally. For vegetarians or people who aren’t big on animal protein, here’s an alternative!
- Nuts and Seeds: As plant-based proteins, this class of food is wide, but quite accessible even in Nigeria — more than most people are aware. From Soy to Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds to HazelNuts, these heart-friendly superfoods can be gotten from milk products (Soy milk, Almond Milk etc) or can be eaten in raw form (like a granola mix, a granola bar, as a topping in a cup of parfait or over a bowl of Oats (which is known to contain more protein than any other type of fibre). Absolutely delicious in any way!
- Egg Salad: Eggs are a great source of animal protein, and an Egg Salad? Even better! A classic egg salad recipe with about 1-2 cups serving can provide your body with 10g of protein, which is about 20% of your total daily protein requirement! Egg salads are great for weight loss as they’re low in calories, and they definitely taste good too.
- Peppersoup: If you’re looking for a meal that can be prepared in multiple ways (there’s no shortage of pepper-soup recipes!), this is definitely your answer. With its base made from the broth of at least one type of protein, a plate of pepper-soup is packed with protein and a good number of other nutrients that are just right for the body. If you can handle the pepper and the spices, go ahead!
Contrary to popular belief, proteins can be more than side dishes, and there are more options available in Nigerian than most people think.
While proteins are not the only nutrient we need, they’re part of the macronutrients — that is, nutrients that our body requires larger amounts of for energy, and for the maintenance of the body’s structure and systems — you want to be sure you’re getting enough.
So take a pick from your preferred protein source(s), and enjoy!