Protein is a highly important part of our diet that provides our body with the building blocks that make us into what we are. Protein is made up of amino acids, and in turn these amino acids are the carbon compounds that make up our muscle, flesh, connective tissues and the rest. When it comes to protein you literally are what you eat, and as we are constantly replacing cells and healing from wounds it’s really rather important that we give ourselves a constant supply of these materials.
This is important for everyone, but for bodybuilders, athletes and children it is even more crucial as these are all groups who need to build more tissue than the rest of us. Children because they’re growing and bodybuilders and athletes because they are constantly degrading and building back their muscle. As such there is a lot of interest when it comes to finding the best sources of protein, so here we will look at some of the very best places to get amino acids in your diet.
Eggs are brilliant sources of protein because of their incredible amino acid profile. Getting protein isn’t just about the weight/percentage of the protein you consume, but also about the bioavailability or in other words how easy it is for your body to use it. What makes egg so useful is the fact that it contains all of the essential amino acids, essentially every ‘type’ of protein, meaning that you will have the building blocks you need for whatever job needs doing in your body. Eggs are one of the only sources of protein that provide this, but only if you eat both the yolk and the white.
Whey is the substance that makes up most protein shakes and is a by-product of the cheese making process that comes from milk. Basically when cheese is made, whey is what’s left over and this is a highly lean form of protein meaning it has no fat on it and that it’s great for bodybuilders who want to build muscle without losing their definition.
Tuna is a fantastic source of lean protein that’s also highly versatile and very tasty. It will provide you with 30 grams of protein per 100 gram serving all of which is highly bioavailable. At the same time it’s also high in antioxidants meaning it can fight cell damage, and high in the brain-boosting omega 3 fatty acid. As well as tuna you can also get many of these benefits from other oily fish too – anchovies, halibut, salmon, snapper, sardines etc.
Lobster and Crab
While we’re dealing with sea creatures, it might surprise you to learn that lobster and crab are also great sources of protein packing in 26.4 grams and 19.4 grams per 100 grams respectively. A bit of a pricey way to get your protein though, and the servings are often small…
Chicken will provide the same amount of protein as tuna, and though it’s not quite as lean, it is highly versatile and very tasty. Turkey and pork are in a similar category to chicken in terms of the amount and availability of protein provided.
Soy is the vegetarian’s best friend when it comes to protein intake being one of the only sources that can provide nearly as much protein as meat (soy protein also being their replacement for whey supplements). While it may be higher in protein than some meat sources and very lean however, it isn’t higher in bioavailability – it’s still technically better to eat meat.
Yeast extract spreads are on this list because they pack around 27.8 grams of protein per 100g. Of course no one eats 100 grams of yeast except to get a YouTube viral hit – you’re more likely to get about 1.5 grams per piece of toast. That said, it makes the list because it’s very useful for vegetarians too being one of the only ways to get vitamin B12 which we need for brain function and nerve health.
Lentils and Nuts
Another good source of protein for those who can’t get their meat. You’ll get about 0.2 grams of protein per peanut but they’re so easy to throw back this is an easy way to up your total. And they contain good fats too to help with protein synthesis.
Red meat often gets a bad rap – it doesn’t contain as much bioavailable protein per serving as tuna or chicken (though a greater total) and it’s much higher in fat. In fact it’s associated very much with high cholesterol and blamed for many heart conditions. That said though red meat still contains a fair does of protein and is, let’s be honest, tastier as well. Furthermore beef will provide you with a boost in testosterone which triggers an anabolic state resulting in the body putting that protein to use to build muscle.
Veal is a more lean way to enjoy the benefits of beef which will get you an impressive 36 grams of protein per 100 gram serving.