The chicken or the egg. In our opinion, it doesn’t matter which came first; they’re both commonly known as foods that are high in protein. But, every now and then you want to switch up the regular high protein meals you have on rotation and eat something different without sacrificing your gains. And, that’s exactly where our list of 6 unexpected foods that are high in protein comes in.
Firstly, for comparison purposes, keep in mind 100g of chicken breast contains 22.5g of protein, one boiled egg contains 6g of protein, and a 100g piece of steak contains 30g of protein. The recommended dietary intake (RDI) of protein for a sedentary man is 64 grams (or 0.84 gram per kilogram of weight). If you’re trying to build muscle, this daily amount increases to 1.4 – 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
So, let’s begin with our list of 6 unexpected foods that are high in protein.
Green peas – 5.4g of protein per 100g
The humble green pea. Whether you love them, loathe them, or haven’t given them a chance since the day you were slingshotting them across the dinner table as a kid, there’s no denying these little green balls pack a mighty protein punch.
How to eat them: Smashed with avocado on toast.
Hemp seeds – 31.6g of protein per 100g
A relative of the cannabis plant, hemp seeds are a nutritional powerhouse with a protein profile on par with your favourite meaty pals, beef, lamb and fish. That makes hemp seeds the ideal plant-based protein source for vegans and vegetarians hoping to snatch a protein hit. And, for those playing at home; no, hemp seeds will not get you high. They have little to none of the psychoactive compound, THC, found in marijuana. Otherwise they’d be illegal, yeah?
How to eat them: Toss a handful in your salad, granola, or smoothie. You won’t even know notice they are there.
Lentils – 24.6g of protein per 100g
A budget-friendly addition to your pantry staples, lentils are a convenient, easy to prepare alternative when you’re chasing something other than meat on your plate. Two cups of lentils will deliver the same amount of protein as a 100g steak. And, the best part is that the high fibre content of lentils will leave you feeling fuller for longer while minimising unhealthy snacking between meals.
How to eat them: For a no-fuss high protein meal, whip up a healthy dahl in the slow cooker.
Goat’s cheese – 18.5g of protein per 100g
If yoghurt is the queen of protein RDI, we’re officially claiming goat’s cheese as the king. An easily digestible form of dairy, goat’s cheese provides almost 6g of protein per ounce (28.5g). So, we won’t blame you for hitting your recommended daily protein intake by gulping down a charcuterie board.
How to eat them: Beyond the trusty charcuterie board; sprinkled on pizza, pasta, salad, or simply on its own.
Pumpkin seeds – 19g per 100g serve
If you’re looking for a high protein snack, pumpkin seeds are a fantastic option. They’re crunchy, salty, delicious, and absolutely brimming with valuable nutrients. One small handful can provide you with a decent dose of healthy fats, magnesium, zinc and the protein your muscles crave following a solid strength workout.
How to eat them: Add pumpkin seeds to salads, roasted vegetables, yoghurt, or keep a packet in your bag for on the go snacking.
Chia seeds – 16.5g per 100g serve
Okay, are we sensing a theme that seeds are an incredibly rich source of protein? And, up there with the best unexpected sources of protein, we have chia seeds. Boasting a high protein content of 16.5g per 100g serve, they’re the tiny specks of goodness that are totally worth the post-meal dental floss (trust us, you want to check your teeth after eating them).
How to eat them: Soak them overnight for a chia pudding breakfast or pop a spoonful in your morning smoothie.