Protein is the most essential nutrient for building muscle. When trying to gain mass, no matter how many hours you spend in the gym, you won’t get the results you desire unless your protein intake is sufficient. This means you will need to eat some high protein foods.
There are varying opinions on the exact protein consumption required when trying to build any significant muscle but most fall within the range of 0.8 to 1.1 grams per pound of body weight. This means that a 170 lb lifter will need to consume at least 136 grams of protein per day to get good results.
However, the problem many individuals face is that they know don’t how to increase their protein consumption besides eating more. The solution is not necessarily eating more, but adjusting your diet to incorporate more protein-rich foods such as those listed below:
Eggs are one of the most well-known protein foods and a staple among gym goers and bodybuilders. An average sized egg carries about 6 grams of protein which is great except that it also has around 180mg of cholesterol (60% of our recommended daily max intake).
Thankfully, we can get rid of that cholesterol by simply removing the yolk but when we do that, we also lose about 40-45% of the protein.
Milk is typically associated with calcium and bone health but for some reason, its protein content goes unnoticed for the most part outside of fitness circles.
The downside to milk is that it has a lot of fat but that can be mitigated because low-fat milk is quite easy to find and without a significant price difference.
3. Chicken Breast
Here’s is the primary food source protein within the fitness community.
If you’re looking for a meal that will supply you with protein on your muscle-building journey, you can’t go wrong with chicken breast. At 27 grams per 3 oz serving, chicken breast is one of the most potent, affordable and easy to find protein sources out there.
4. Cottage Cheese
This delectable dairy product is a protein powerhouse that carries about 14 grams of protein in a small 4 oz snack-sized container. Its mild flavour and versatility allow it to be consumed by itself or mixed in with your salads, pancakes or other dishes.
A notable drawback, however, is that it’s fairly high in sodium which can be problematic if you have high blood pressure.
5. Lean Beef
Lean beef is an excellent source of quality protein, with a 3 oz serving of 85% lean ground beef providing about 22 grams of protein. Apart from the high protein content, beef is also packed with B vitamins, iron and creatine.
In one particular study with 100 elderly women, it was found that the ladies experienced increased muscle strength after the consumption of lean red meat.
Fish are generally excellent protein sources but best of the bunch is tuna. A 3 oz serving of bluefin tuna gives you about 25 grams of quality protein and the same amount of skipjack and yellowfin provides about 20 grams.
Salmon is another protein-heavy fish, providing about 17 to 23 grams per 3 oz serving depending on the species.
A huge benefit of fish is that they also give your body lots of omega 3 fatty acids.
Other high protein fish include sardines, tilapia, snapper, and anchovies.
Almonds are full of protein (and so are many other options in the nut family). A 1 oz serving (about 23 almonds) has 6 grams of protein and lots of healthy fats.
Beyond its protein content, a study led by researchers at the National Institute of Sports Medicine in China found that the consumption of almonds can have a positive effect on performance in exercise and sports.
Soybeans are a godsend for vegetarians because they are one of the few plant sources that have all nine essential amino acids necessary for muscle growth and maintenance.
One cup of cooked soybeans contains about 29 grams of protein but the nutrition doesn’t end there. Packed with healthy fats, iron, B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin K, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium, soybeans are one of the most nutritious foods in the world.
9. Greek Yogurt
Yoghurt, in general, is a good place to go for protein. However, Greek yoghurt can be an especially good option if you’re looking to build muscle because its protein content is so high. A 170-gram serving is good for about 17 grams of protein and like most dairy products, it includes both casein and whey proteins which is the perfect combination for building muscle.
Greek yoghurt’s drawback is that it isn’t very tasty, so it’s best to mix it with other ingredients such as fruits.
10. Protein Powders and Shakes
Protein powders are an awesome way to get concentrated protein, allowing you to increase your intake without drastically increasing the amount of food you have to eat because most of them usually have somewhere between 22 and 25 grams of protein per scoop.
This means that you can get almost 40 grams of protein by simply adding a scoop of protein powder to two cups of milk. The protein content can get even higher as you start to mix in other foods to improve the taste or texture of the shake.
Researchers at the University of Toronto have found that whey protein shakes, in particular, can be an effective recovery drink to prevent muscle loss after a workout and improve recovery.
Protein is a nutrient that is necessary for building and maintaining muscle mass, as well as a host of other bodily functions. If building muscle, or maintaining it while losing weight is your goal, it’s likely that you will have to increase your protein consumption.
The key to achieving this is not necessarily eating more but choosing the right high protein foods such as those mentioned in this article.