Whether you are trying to build muscle, lose weight, or you have food allergies, there are different lean protein options that work for you and your circumstances.
Lean Protein Options for Those Trying to Build Muscle
When it comes to getting a strong body, going to the gym is only half of the equation. The other half is proper nutrients that feed your muscles so they can grow. We know that protein can help with this, but not all protein is created equal or works equally well when building muscle is the goal. Here are some of the best options if this is your goal.
Whey Protein is one of the main proteins in milk and comes from the liquid left behind when milk is turned to cheese. This protein-rich liquid is often used as a way to replace the consistency of fat in your favorite foods (such as ice cream) without the actual fat.
Bodybuilders prize this source of protein because of its special mix of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Together, these amino acids are the building blocks of muscle. In addition, whey has been linked to athletic endurance.
Eggs are an easy, cost-effective, and versatile way to get high-quality protein into your diet. An egg’s essential nutrients build and maintain lean body mass while supporting muscle mass and function during aging.
There’s no need to swallow raw eggs. The Egg Nutrition Center says that the protein in fully cooked eggs is 91% bioavailable and ready to be used by your body, compared to only 50% of raw eggs. A cooked egg provides 6 grams of protein while a raw egg only offers 3 grams. Why the difference? Heat enacts a structural change which inhibits the trypsin enzyme, allowing better digestibility.
Other heavy protein hitters include:
- Beef (when 90% lean and eaten sparingly)
- Dairy (organic milk, cheese, and yogurt)
Lean Protein Options for Those Trying to Lose Weight
Since a high-protein diet can help you curb hunger and, in turn, lose weight, it’s a good idea to eat extra protein if you are trying to shed pounds. However, some proteins are also high in calories which can work against your goals. That’s why you should choose lean proteins that are nutrient-rich but low in saturated fats. Try these healthy options.
Seafood is high in protein but some types are better than others for weight loss. Great options include salmon, trout, cod, haddock, halibut, and tuna.
Other delicious high-in-protein seafood options include:
Keep in mind that not only which seafood you choose, but how you prepare it, can make a big difference. Choose raw, baked, broiled, or steamed with fresh citrus or a yogurt-based sauce for the greatest health benefits.
White Meat is a staple of weight loss diets because they are readily available and can be prepared in a thousand different (healthy) ways. White chicken breast most readily comes to mind, but there are other delicious extra-lean alternatives to try. Turkey, pork loin, canadian bacon, and even ostrich can give variation to your lean dinner.
When shopping, read the labels and choose the most effective meat-based proteins that have about 5 grams of total fat and 2 grams of saturated fats per serving.
Plant-Based Protein Options for Those with Food Allergies
Any food allergies and sensitivities should be considered when choosing the best protein option for you. Typically, any protein that comes from dairy (including whey), nuts, and eggs are not a good idea. However, there are still plenty of options.
What is pea protein? Pea Protein is extracted from yellow split peas and is made up of as much as 90% protein. In fact, just one 30-gram serving of pea protein isolate contains a whopping 23 grams of protein. Pea protein isolate is absorbed into the body quickly and also has a high insulin response which can help regulate blood sugar and improve glycemic control.
Soy Protein from soybeans is often a go-to plant-based protein because it is readily available and contains a hefty amount of protein. Soybeans are the only vegetable food that contains all eight essential amino acids. They are also a good source of fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins. Soymilk is a good alternative for those with dairy sensitivities.
Other amazing plant-based sources of protein that can be incorporated into your diet include:
- Lentils and Quinoa
- Hemp and Chia Seeds
- Spirulina (a blue-green algae powder)
- Nutritional Yeast (look for vegan versions)
- Sunflower, Sesame, Pumpkin, and Flax Seeds
- Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Pistachios, and Brazil Nuts
While these plant-based protein options are good alternatives for people who have food allergies, it’s important to note that they’re also great options for those who are trying to build muscle as well as trying to lose weight, since they are low in saturated fat and cholesterol and contain other important nutrients and amino acids.
The biggest takeaway is that by choosing the right lean proteins for your particular goal, you’ll have the greatest chance of success…and satisfy your hunger at the same time.
About the Author: Olivia Bakersfield is passionate about fitness, health, and making the world a better place. She enjoys writing about nutrition, wellness practices, essential oils and anything that leads to a happy and healthy life. Olivia is a freelance writer for many companies including Nature’s Sunshine.