Protein is, by far, the single most important nutrient for an athlete. While carbs and fats provide energy, it’s protein that boosts your metabolism and promotes the growth of new muscle. It’s vital to get plenty of protein in your diet, and from as wide a range of amino acid-rich foods as possible. Here are some of the best sources of protein for you to try:
It may surprise you, but chicken breast is probably the single best animal source of protein. It contains far less saturated fat than red meat, but it’s still packed with protein. It’s also one of the easiest and most versatile meats to cook, and it makes a delicious addition to just about everything. Pretty much any type of chicken meat is good for your health, but white meat is the lowest in fat and highest in protein.
Eggs compete with chicken breast for the “top dog” spot, at least when it comes to animal proteins. Eggs contain all nine essential amino acids, and they’re surprisingly low in calories. They contain vital nutrients like choline, and they deliver a wide range of minerals and vitamins. Despite their saturated fat content (all in the yolk), they’re still a wonderfully healthy protein.
If you’re looking for pure protein, protein powder is the way to go. A single serving of the stuff usually delivers anywhere from 20 to 30 grams of protein, which is far more than you’d get in a serving of meat or chicken. Taste notwithstanding, protein powder is an excellent way to add more amino acids to your diet in a quick, easy way.
Red meat is packed with amino acids, Vitamin B12, and other vital metabolism-boosting nutrients. The higher-fat cuts are best avoided, but the lean cuts (with less fat) will provide your body with a healthy dose of protein without overdoing it on the calories. Plus, beef is probably the tastiest of all the meats, and it contains certain nutrients you can’t find anywhere else.
Fish may be higher in fat than your average meat, but it’s the GOOD fat, the kind rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Tuna, in particular, is rich in protein, with roughly the same amount of amino acids as you’d get from a scoop of protein powder. Sardines, salmon, halibut, and other high-fat fish deserve a place on your menu, as they will do wonders for your heart, muscles, brain, and body overall!
It may not be the safest or healthiest of the meats, but it’s an excellent source of protein. A single 100-gram serving of pork chops contains up to 25 grams of amino acids, comparable to a scoop of protein powder or a juicy beef steak. Pork is usually higher in fat than beef and chicken, but chops contain less fat than the rest of the animal.
If you are looking for a quick and easy high-protein snack, look no further than Greek yoghurt. It contains more amino acids than regular yoghurt, though often a bit more fat as well. You’ll find that Greek yoghurt is an excellent snack to help you stay full and satiated between meals, and it delivers about 10 grams of protein per 100 grams. All in all, a decent snack choice.
If you want a high-protein meal that’s also very low in calories, add beans, lentils, or chickpeas to your menu. These legumes are an excellent source of protein, though they don’t contain all nine essential amino acids. Pair them with brown rice to make a complete meal!