Best and Cheapest Protein Food Sources That You Need To Get Your Hands On
Protein is one of the main food groups that should constitute at least 35% of your daily food intake. Protein is not just for people who are into bodybuilding – it is actually one of the most important food groups to help your body to rebuild itself as it provides essential building blocks for cells.
They are organic molecules made up of amino acids – the building blocks of life. These amino acids are joined together by chemical bonds and then folded in different 3-dimensional structures to support body functions.
There are 2 types of amino acids – essential (which the body cannot produce and hence we must consume through our food) and nonessential amino acids (which the body can produce).
WHY DO WE NEED PROTEIN?
During digestion, our body breaks down the protein we consume into amino acids. These are then circulated throughout our body through our bloodstream. As blood flows, it trades the amino acids in our cells, providing a continuous supply of protein to produce important molecules in our body – like enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and antibodies.
Protein also helps replace worn out cells, transport various substances throughout the body and aids in growth and repair.
Consuming protein increases levels of Glucagon hormones. It helps control body fat when it is released into the bloodstream when sugar levels go down. This causes the liver to break down stored glycogen into glucose for the body.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN IS ENOUGH?
To prevent protein deficiency, the basic recommended protein intake is 0.8g per kg of body mass for healthy adults. For example, a 68kg adult will have to consume about 54g of protein a day.
However, the recommended protein intake also depends on activity level, age and gender. It is also important to note that we can only store a certain amount of protein at one time. The body needs its protein stores to be continually replenished – that means you should consume moderate amounts of protein at regular intervals.
CAN YOU OVER CONSUME PROTEIN?
Yes you can. Extra protein can be converted into sugar or fat in the body. However, due to its thermic effect (the amount of energy required to digest, absorb, transport and store protein) is higher than carbohydrates and fat, it isn’t as quickly converted as compared to its other two counterparts.
WHAT ASIAN FOODS HAVE HIGH PROTEIN LEVELS & INEXPENSIVE?
Whenever we think of protein, we often think about salmon, eggs, red meat, and legumes/beans. But did you know there are more than just the usual suspects that are easily available, and rich in protein? They could be found in your grocery store, too!
Here are some of the common high-protein foods you can find in Asian cuisine that will not burn a whole in your wallet.
Disclaimers: Price range is based on price at low-cost grocery stores or local wet markets. Price might be higher based on demographic reason.
Eggs are a low-carb, low-calorie and low-cost source of protein. One egg provides 6 to 8 grams of protein with only 70 calories. Extremely nutritious, eggs are a complete protein and have a rich supply of key vitamins and minerals.
Price Range: RM 2.00 - RM 10.00
Sardines contain 20 grams of protein per three-ounce serving, and are one of the best sources of calcium and vitamin D, both of which are essential for bone and muscle health. They're high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Price Range: RM 1.96 - RM 7.99
Mackerel (Ikan Kembung)
Mackerel is an excellent source of dietary protein, and a regular fillet of mackerel offers 20.8 grams of protein. Additionally, mackerel is a complete source of protein, which means the fish includes sufficient quantities of all nine essential amino acids. Since it is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, getting high-quality protein alongside omega-3 fatty acids is a great health benefit of mackerel.
Price Range: RM 1.00 - RM 9.00
Tempeh is a great source of protein, providing a whopping 15 grams in each 3-ounce serving. It's also an excellent source of micronutrients such as manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and riboflavin.
Price Range: RM 1.00 - RM10.00
Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also a valuable plant source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese and phosphorus. In addition to this, it also contains magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1.
Price Range: RM1.00 - RM 3.00
Chicken is one of the most commonly consumed high protein foods. The breast is the leanest part. Three ounces (85 grams) of roasted, skinless chicken breast will provide you about 27 grams of protein and 140 calories.
Price Range: RM 6.00 - RM 12.00
Chickpeas (Kacang Kuda)
Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein, making them an appropriate food choice for those who do not eat animal products. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving provides about 3 grams of protein, which is comparable to the protein content in similar foods like black beans and lentils.
Price Range: RM 1.00 - RM 3.00
Peanut (Kacang Tanah)
The protein content ranges from 22–30% of its total calories, making peanuts a great source of plant-based protein. The most abundant proteins in peanuts, arachin and conarachin, can be severely allergic to some people, causing life-threatening reactions. Hence, be careful when consuming any type of nuts.
Price Range: RM 2.00 - RM 6.00
Red Kidney Beans (Kacang Merah)
Kidney beans are an excellent plant-based source of protein. They're also rich in various minerals, vitamins, fibers, antioxidants, and other unique plant compounds. Therefore, these beans may aid weight loss, promote colon health, and moderate blood sugar levels.
Price Range: RM 1.00 - RM 3.00