Top 6 Healthy and Cheap Protein and Fat Sources

Cheap protein and fat sources - Fitzabout
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Updated: February 10, 2023

In this “Healthy and Cheap Protein, Carbs and Fat Sources” article, we will share cheap and healthy foods that are delicious and easy to find.

Here are my favorite high-quality, affordable protein, and fats. So there you have it: It is possible to eat healthy without maxing out your credit/debit card.

Cheap protein and fat sources

No matter what your goal is with your body, it requires eating plenty of protein. And it can add up quickly.

Eggs

Eggs are one of the best sources of protein with about 6 grams per egg, and they’re also a great source of healthy fats. An egg contains a moderate amount of fat, about 5 grams, mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Eggs contain all the nutrients that the body needs to produce energy. It has many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of thrombosis and increasing blood concentrations of two powerful antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. 1 2

Vitamin A, vitamin B-12 and selenium present in eggs are important for keeping the immune system healthy.

Oh, and if you fear that the cholesterol in eggs will increase your risk of heart disease, this myth has been thoroughly debunked by both epidemiological and clinical research. 3 4

While it’s true that just one large egg yolk contains 200 milligrams of cholesterol—making it one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol—eggs also contain additional nutrients that may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Accordingly, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans removed the prior recommendation to limit dietary cholesterol consumption to 300 mg per day.

With an average price of about $0.20 per egg, or $2 per dozen, they’re hard to beat in terms of nutrition and value.

Chicken Breast

Chicken breast is cheap protein sources, there are several reasons why fitness-conscious people eat so much chicken: It’s affordable, high in protein, and low in fat.

And while it’s true that the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of poultry is poor (about 10:1, while beef is about 2:1), we can ease any fatty acid imbalances by supplementing with or eating fish or krill oil. It can be controlled from Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, herring, sardines, or mackerel.

Preparing the chicken breasts too often adds fat. If you use olive oil in a pan, for example, the olive oil increases the fat content of your final finished dish.

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The protein in chicken breast can provide many important benefits, making it a helpful addition to many meal plans. The nutrients in chicken breast may help with muscle mass, bone health, appetite control, and even mood and sleep.

Chicken breast is an excellent source of selenium, phosphorus, also rich in B vitamins such as niacin and vitamins B6 and B12, which play a central role in energy production, DNA synthesis and brain health. 5

Meanwhile, selenium is a trace mineral that is essential for proper immune function, thyroid health and fertility. 6 7

It contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid, that helps regulate protein synthesis and also contributes to the brain’s ability to synthesize serotonin. Someone with insufficient serotonin may experience trouble with memory or depression. Tryptophan also plays a role in melatonin, the hormone necessary for sleep. 8 9

One pound of chicken breast contains about 100 grams of protein and will cost you about $3.50.

Almonds

Almonds are by far my favorite type of nut. They’re delicious and nutritious, with a handful (about 15) weighing in at 9 grams of healthy fat, 4 grams of protein, and just 4 grams of carbs. They are highly nutritious and rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamin E.

Antioxidants help protect your cells from oxidative damage, a major contributor to aging and disease such as cancer. 10 11

Almonds are extremely high in magnesium, which can offer major improvements for metabolic syndrome and help reduce blood pressure levels12 13. High blood pressure is one of the major drivers of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

Snacking on almonds has been shown to significantly reduce oxidized LDL.14

Like eggs, they have also been associated with various health benefits, such as a lower risk of diabetes and lower body weight.

Almonds cost around $0.50 per ounce (25 to 30 nuts), making them easy to fit into any budget. They’re great on their own and go well in cold cereals like granola or muesli and in hot cereals like oatmeal.

However, my favorite way to eat them is to buy freshly ground almond butter. It’s delicious on its own, but it shines when you pair it with fruits like bananas or apples.

Low-fat Cottage Cheese

Low-fat cottage cheese is not only high in protein, but also essential nutrients. It contains a good amount of Vitamin B6, Choline, Zinc, Copper and also provides a good amount of calcium.

It can help reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance and heart disease. Cottage cheese also helps improve bone health and provide antioxidant protection. 15 16

You can buy a half-cup of low-fat cottage cheese for less than a dollar, and you get 14 grams of protein and only 1 gram of fat.

I think it tastes great with just salt and pepper, but I also like it with fruits like pineapple or berries.

Protein Powder

Protein powder can be a beneficial supplement for many people, especially athletes, older adults, vegetarians, and vegans. They are a convenient source of complete protein, and they also contain other nutrients.

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However, not everyone needs extra protein. People who eat a diet rich in meat, fish, dairy, and eggs and do not do intense weight training do not need to take a protein supplement.

Many people are surprised to learn that protein powder can be affordable.

For example, my naturally sweet, 100 percent whey isolate protein costs about $18 per pound. That’s almost 400 grams of the highest quality whey protein for $18!

Those looking to supplement their diet with protein powder should choose a high-quality product and speak with their doctor or dietitian before using it.

According to a 2018 study, most sold protein powders contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic.17

Therefore, people should always proceed with caution when purchasing protein powder and pick a product from a reputable supplier.

Avocado

Avocados are a great source of dietary fat, and monounsaturated fat in particular (one avocado has about 15 grams).

Which have been linked to:

  • Improved cholesterol levels18
  • Lower risk of heart disease19 20
  • Better brain function

On top of that, avocados are packed with cancer-fighting phytochemicals.21

You can do a lot more with them than make guacamole—they go great with eggs, soups, and salsas.

Although prices fluctuate due to seasonal highs and lows in both demand and production, they are typically between $1 and $2 per fruit.22

Sources

  1. Cho HJ, Ham HS, Lee DS, Park HJ. Effects of proteins from hen egg yolk on human platelet aggregation and blood coagulation. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003 Oct;26(10):1388-92. doi: 10.1248/bpb.26.1388. PMID: 14519941.[]
  2. Goodrow EF, Wilson TA, Houde SC, Vishwanathan R, Scollin PA, Handelman G, Nicolosi RJ. Consumption of one egg per day increases serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations in older adults without altering serum lipid and lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations. J Nutr. 2006 Oct;136(10):2519-24. doi: 10.1093/jn/136.10.2519. PMID: 16988120.[]
  3. Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB, Manson JE, Ascherio A, Colditz GA, Rosner BA, Spiegelman D, Speizer FE, Sacks FM, Hennekens CH, Willett WC. A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. JAMA. 1999 Apr 21;281(15):1387-94. doi: 10.1001/jama.281.15.1387. PMID: 10217054.[]
  4. Mutungi G, Ratliff J, Puglisi M, Torres-Gonzalez M, Vaishnav U, Leite JO, Quann E, Volek JS, Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol from eggs increases plasma HDL cholesterol in overweight men consuming a carbohydrate-restricted diet. J Nutr. 2008 Feb;138(2):272-6. doi: 10.1093/jn/138.2.272. PMID: 18203890.[]
  5. David O. Kennedy. “B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review”, Nutrients. 2016 Feb; 8(2): 68. doi: 10.3390/nu8020068[]
  6. Aparna P. Shreenath; Muhammad Atif Ameer; Jennifer Dooley. “Selenium Deficiency”, Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan. Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482260/[]
  7. Selenium. The Nutrition Source. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.[]
  8. Jenkins TA, Nguyen JCD, Polglaze KE, Bertrand PP. Influence of tryptophan and serotonin on mood and cognition with a possible role of the gut-brain axis. Nutrients. 2016;8(1):56. doi: 10.3390/nu8010056[]
  9. Mendel Friedman. “Analysis, nutrition, and health benefits of tryptophan”, Int J Tryptophan Res. 2018; 11: 1178646918802282. doi: 10.1177/1178646918802282, PMCID: PMC6158605. PMID: 30275700[]
  10. B N Ames, M K Shigenaga, and T M Hagen, “Oxidants, antioxidants, and the degenerative diseases of aging”, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Sep 1; 90(17): 7915–7922. doi: 10.1073/pnas.90.17.7915. PMCID: PMC47258. PMID: 8367443.[]
  11. Cutler RG. Antioxidants and aging. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan;53(1 Suppl):373S-379S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/53.1.373S. PMID: 1985414.[]
  12. Mark Houston, “The role of nutrition and nutraceutical supplements in the treatment of hypertension”, World J Cardiol. 2014 Feb 26; 6(2): 38–66. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v6.i2.38. PMCID: PMC3935060. PMID: 24575172.[]
  13. Houston MC, Harper KJ. Potassium, magnesium, and calcium: their role in both the cause and treatment of hypertension. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2008 Jul;10(7 Suppl 2):3-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-7176.2008.08575.x. PMID: 18607145; PMCID: PMC8109864.[]
  14. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Marchie A, Parker TL, Connelly PW, Qian W, Haight JS, Faulkner D, Vidgen E, Lapsley KG, Spiller GA. Dose response of almonds on coronary heart disease risk factors: blood lipids, oxidized low-density lipoproteins, lipoprotein(a), homocysteine, and pulmonary nitric oxide: a randomized, controlled, crossover trial. Circulation. 2002 Sep 10;106(11):1327-32. doi: 10.1161/01.cir.0000028421.91733.20. PMID: 12221048.[]
  15. Friedman MA, Bailey AM, Rondon MJ, McNerny EM, Sahar ND, Kohn DH. Calcium- and Phosphorus-Supplemented Diet Increases Bone Mass after Short-Term Exercise and Increases Bone Mass and Structural Strength after Long-Term Exercise in Adult Mice. PLoS One. 2016 Mar 23;11(3):e0151995. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151995. PMID: 27008546; PMCID: PMC4805202.[]
  16. Brenneisen P, Steinbrenner H, Sies H. Selenium, oxidative stress, and health aspects. Mol Aspects Med. 2005 Aug-Oct;26(4-5):256-67. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2005.07.004. PMID: 16105679.[]
  17. https://cleanlabelproject.org/wp-content/uploads/download-9-converted.pdf[]
  18. Mustad VA, Etherton TD, Cooper AD, Mastro AM, Pearson TA, Jonnalagadda SS, Kris-Etherton PM. “Reducing saturated fat intake is associated with increased levels of LDL receptors on mononuclear cells in healthy men and women“. J Lipid Res. 1997 Mar;38(3):459-68. PMID: 9101427.[]
  19. Stanley WC, Dabkowski ER, Ribeiro RF Jr, O’Connell KA. “Dietary fat and heart failure: moving from lipotoxicity to lipoprotection”. Circ Res. 2012 Mar 2;110(5):764-76. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.253104. PMID: 22383711; PMCID: PMC3356700.[]
  20. Sartorius T, Ketterer C, Kullmann S, Balzer M, Rotermund C, Binder S, Hallschmid M, Machann J, Schick F, Somoza V, Preissl H, Fritsche A, Häring HU, Hennige AM. “Monounsaturated fatty acids prevent the aversive effects of obesity on locomotion, brain activity, and sleep behavior”. Diabetes. 2012 Jul;61(7):1669-79. doi: 10.2337/db11-1521. Epub 2012 Apr 9. PMID: 22492529; PMCID: PMC3379681.[]
  21. Paul R, Kulkarni P, Ganesh N. “Avocado fruit (Persea americana Mill) exhibits chemo-protective potentiality against cyclophosphamide induced genotoxicity in human lymphocyte culture“. J Exp Ther Oncol. 2011;9(3):221-30. PMID: 22070054.[]
  22. Source: Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body. By Michael Matthews. Available here: https://amzn.to/3S7dyYD[]
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