If you’ve missed the first part of this article where we talk about optimal protein consumption, timing, and distribution, jump to part 1 now (here).
If you have ever wondered what the best protein sources for optimal muscle growth and recovery are, then you are at the right place.
Today, we are delving deeper into the different sources of protein, so without further ado, let’s have a look.
Functions of Protein
Proteins exist throughout our bodies – they can be found in our muscle tissues, bones, and blood.
Protein is also the most satiating macronutrient, as we have already mentioned in part 1 of this series.
When we consume protein, our body utilizes more time and energy to digest it. This is part of the reason why we feel more satiated after a steak with a complex carb side compared to a pizza.
Here’s a brief biology lesson – Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are 20 total amino acids, 9 of which are essential (think of essential as ‘the body needs it for optimal health and recovery but can’t produce it on its own).
The other 11 are non-essential, meaning that the body can produce them itself.
However, the essential amino acids we must derive from protein-rich foods!
Protein can come from 2 sources – animal or plant-based protein foods.
The main difference between them is that all nine essential amino acids are in each animal protein source. Whereas, to get all nine EAAs from plant-based sources, certain combinations have to be consumed.
After this short introduction of protein, let’s talk about the two primary sources.
Animal Sources of Protein
As mentioned above, animal protein sources have all essential amino acids and are known as “complete” proteins.
Here is a list of the best animal sources of protein and the quantity of protein per 100g.
One of the juiciest meats out there if cooked right. Beef has approximately 26,4 grams of protein per 100g and 163 kcals.
“The favorite” food of most bodybuilders out there. Chicken has around 22 – 27 grams of protein per 100g and 120 – 140 kcals.
Salmon is famous for its taste and color among trainees. It contains 20g of protein per 100g and around 170 kcals. Remember that “Wild Caught” Salmon is also high in healthy fats, such as omega 3 and 6.
One of the best sources of protein, according to experts. Eggs are one of the most digestible protein sources. They contain around 13 grams of protein per 100g (one medium egg contains 6g) and 150 kcals.
Pork is an excellent alternative to beef and chicken. It has a great protein to fats ratio and contains around 22 grams of protein per 100g and 130 kcals.
Plant-based Protein Sources
Many refer to Plant-based protein sources as “incomplete” proteins because they do not contain all of the essential amino acids.
However, consuming a variety of plant sources can achieve the required essential amino profile.
Here is a list of plant-based protein sources:
The only exception among plant-based sources because it has ALL the essential amino acids. Soy protein contains 12,5 grams of protein per 100g and around 140 kcals.
These are a fantastic alternative to rice and an excellent source of complex carbs with a good amount of protein. Quinoa contains 12 grams of protein per 100 and around 360 kcals.
Lentils are a must in a healthy and balanced diet. They contain a high quantity of fiber and a decent amount of protein. Lentils have around 9 grams of protein per 100g and 100 kcals.
Similar to lentils, beans are high in fiber, protein, and carbs. Beans contain 6.6 grams of protein per 100g and 91 kcals.
Almonds are incredibly high in protein. However, they contain a lot of healthy fats as well. 21.6 grams of protein and 643 kcals can be found in almonds. Being mindful of your food’s overall macronutrient profile will help you stay focused on achieving your goals.
Sesame seeds are tiny, oil-rich seeds with many benefits. They contain a lot of fiber and have 21.2 grams of protein per and 584 kcals per 100g.
Animal protein sources contain all essential amino acids and are known as “complete” proteins.
Plant-based protein sources may not have all the essential amino acids, but combining them would bring identical results to your life.
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