Protein is an important macronutrient that plays a crucial role in the process of muscle recovery and repair when you are looking to build more muscle or tone your body. It has ‘building blocks’ called amino acids that the body uses to build and repair muscles and bones, in addition to making hormones and enzymes.
Protein is also essential for retaining the muscle you have already gained and can be used as an energy source. It is recommended that, during the process of getting into and staying in shape, you have 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound (lbs) of body weight, so if your bodyweight is 160 pounds, you should be consuming 150-160g per day, for example.
However, hitting the amount of protein can be a challenge for a number of people. So, what are the best sources that can ensure you no longer have this problem on a daily basis?
Arguably the most nutritious and dense of all the protein sources, lean meats are something you should aim to incorporate in each of your meals. They are low in calories but very high in protein an also very filling, meaning that you will stay more satisfied during the day and be less tempted by high calorie, low nutrient foods. Great options include chicken breast, diced beef, turkey, and pork medallions.
Ideally, most of your protein should come from natural whole foods, due to their nutrient properties, but not everyone wants to have meat, fish or eggs with every meal and having too much of the same thing can be adverse for your overall health. So, consuming protein supplements is going to help add some variety to your diet.
Supplements, such as protein powder and protein bars, will also make your protein target a lot more achievable due to its convenience – bars are tasty snacks, while protein powder is very versatile and can be used as in a shake, smoothie, or in your meals (oatmeal bowl, protein pancakes, for example). So, if you’re struggling to reach your protein target, investing in some supplements is going to help you massively.
This is another great way of boosting your protein intake, especially if you are not as keen on your lean meats. Seafood is a particularly lean source of protein, with cod, salmon, tuna, scallops and monkfish all low-calorie options and all in the region of 20-35g per 100g. It is also an extremely tasty source if you find it to be, but make sure you have variety with the types you have and aim to mix it with lean meats during the week.
This is perhaps an underrated source of protein that many people forget about. Eggs and egg whites are densely packed with protein, tasty and extremely versatile in what you can make. Low-fat Greek yoghurt is also a fantastic option, given that it is low calorie (70 cals per 100g) but high in protein, giving you more room for other foods. Cottage Cheese is another great source, with 23g included in 100g.
If you are not a meat or dairy consumer, there are still plenty of great vegan sources that you can consume. Tempeh, tofu, seitan, chickpeas are all densely packed with protein, while nuts, seeds and beans also offer plenty, as well as a strong variety. No meat, seafood or dairy does reduce your options as a high-protein consumer, but it is still possible to hit your daily intake target through these sources.
So, if you are struggling to hit your protein intake, it is important to know the best sources to help you with this problem. These include lean meats, seafood, dairy, supplements and vegan food. Once you have clarity over the best sources for you, you can then make these a regular in your diet and ensure that you no longer have an issue with protein as you look to lose fat and improve your body shape.