As a bodybuilder, your goal is to increase your muscle mass. Besides training, you need to eat the right diet to maximize your results. The right diet is one with high-protein foods that will help build muscle faster, but what are some of these foods? This article has compiled an extensive list of high-protein foods to incorporate into your meals to achieve your bodybuilding or fitness goals.
What Is Protein?
A protein is a macronutrient that contains one or several building blocks of amino acids. Proteins are made of large and complex molecules which help in structuring, functioning, and regulating the body’s tissues and organs.
When you break down proteins, you get amino acids attached to form long chains. The sequence of these amino acids will determine the dimensional structure of a protein and its specific function. For example, messenger proteins transmit signals to the brain to help coordinate biological processes, like the growth hormone.
How Much Protein Should You Consume in A Day?
The amount of protein you take in a day is determined by the following factors:
- Body weight- your body weight will affect your protein intake. Experts emphasize that you only need 0.8g of protein per KG of your body weight per day.
- Age- the older you get, the more protein you need to consume.
- Sex- men and women have different energy requirements. Men need slightly higher protein intake compared to women.
- Daily activities- active individuals, e.g., bodybuilders and athletes, need more protein than non-active individuals. The protein fuels the muscles and enhances endurance.
While proteins are essential in building muscles, always adhere to the amount you need based on age, body weight, and activity level. Prolonged overconsumption of protein can pose detrimental effects like kidney damage and bone mineral loss.
Importance Of Proteins
There are numerous ways proteins can help your body. A few of them are below:
Helps Boost Metabolism
Proteins are essential, especially for fitness enthusiasts, because they help boost metabolism and burn calories. If you’re trying to change your body composition, you should be on a high-protein diet to build and maintain muscle mass.
Helps You Stay Fuller for Longer
If you want to build more muscle, you must first lose some weight and burn more calories. Exercising will leave you feeling hungry often. Fortunately, protein-rich foods help you stay fuller for longer, unlike fatty foods or carbohydrates.
Aids In Muscle Recovery and Growth
You need to refeed properly after working out to ensure muscle recovery and building. Proteins prevent muscle breakdown and help in muscle recovery and building. Protein-rich foods will increase the efficiency of your fitness routine and help you build muscle mass.
Prevents Against Muscle Injury
If you’re doing intensive workouts, muscle injuries are prone to happen. A high-protein diet helps prevent these injuries as protein increases exercise tolerance, supports strength and helps develop lean muscle and balance. Thus, helping prevent muscle injury.
Top 16 High-Protein Foods
High proteins consist of all essential amino acids and can be animal- or plant-based. Here are the top 16 protein foods:
They are the most popular protein. Interestingly, most people concentrate on taking the white egg and throw away the yolk because they feel they carry many calories. If you’re looking for a high-protein food, but you’ve been discarding the egg yolks, then you need to stop. A whole egg is a super-protein food that is easy to absorb and is a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, fats, and minerals.
If you’re a vegetarian looking for a plant-based high protein, soy can be a great pick. Unlike processed soy, which leaves out some essential nutrients, soy is a whole protein that provides your body with essential amino acids ideal for your body’s functioning.
Whole soy has low saturated fats and is cholesterol free, which helps maintain a healthy weight and also lowers the risks of getting a heart attack.
Legumes are a class of many beans, peas, and even lentils. Plant-based proteins contain fiber and other essential nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Additionally, legumes are high in antioxidants that reduce the risks of cell damage and help lower blood sugar and blood pressure.
4. Tree Nuts
Tree nuts include a wide variety of nuts but not legumes. A good example of tree nuts are:
- Brazil nuts
- Cashew nuts
- Hazels and many other tree nuts.
Peanuts aren’t classified as tree nuts because they grow like legumes. Tree nuts carry high protein content, but you must regulate their intake because they also have calories.
Every type of tree nut carries multiple benefits. Like walnuts are high in omega 3, which boosts brain functions. Almonds, on the other side, help lower cholesterol levels, all thanks to their high levels of fiber content.
5. Lean beef
Red meat, including lean beef, is a great high-protein food when bodybuilding. Although there are myths, misconceptions, and stigma surrounding red meat and chronic diseases, it is a great source of high protein. Lean beef carries high protein levels and has selenium, iron, zinc, and vitamins.
Chicken is an excellent alternative to red meats, and it effortlessly adds high levels of protein to your diet in a delicious way. Most people prefer chicken, one of the most eaten staples as far as protein foods are concerned. Apart from protein, chicken meat has a wide range of minerals like selenium and vitamins like Vit B.
7. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is another excellent source of protein because it has low calories and fat content. Cottage cheese is popular for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts as it helps prevent muscle breakdown. Besides high protein benefits, cottage cheese promotes bone health and protects antioxidants.
Although underrated and less often consumed, shellfish are a great source of protein and are low on calories. For bodybuilders, shellfish reduces joint problems and contains omega three, which boosts endurance and blood flow.
Prawns, for example, are high in protein and contain very small amounts of fat and carbohydrates. They are also high in magnesium, reducing lactic acid in the muscles, improving performance, and decreasing muscle fatigue and soreness. Prawns are also high in calcium and phosphorus, which ensure the proper functioning of muscles and strong bones.
Milk is a superfood because it carries almost every nutrient the body needs. You can gain the high protein and calcium benefits from milk if you aren’t lactose intolerant. And even if you had issues with lactose products, you can get other alternatives like lactose-free milk.
Quinoa, in many cases, is considered a pseudo-cereal because it’s a seed, but people think it’s a grain. This seed is high in protein levels and carries almost all the amino acids the body needs. Most people take quinoa as a soup or porridge, and some use it to prepare delicious meals. It is a great option if you’re a vegan diet lover looking for high-protein foods.
11. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds have an impressive level of nutrients and protein. They offer essential vitamins and minerals with just a small serving, but you have to take them moderately because they carry high calories. Pumpkin seeds provide a lot of health benefits, like lowering your chances of getting diabetes, and also carry great anti-inflammatory benefits.
12. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a strained yogurt with a very thick and creamy texture. Greek yogurt is high in protein and has high calcium content coupled with essential vitamins. It has a lot more protein content (about 3-4 fold) than regular yogurt, making it an excellent choice for someone who wants to gain muscle mass.
You can add Greek yogurt to several dishes, all thanks to its tart flavor that makes it easy to pair with dishes. You can also add Greek yogurt to your favorite salads or smoothies.
13. Turkey breast
Turkey breast contains a high protein level and is low in calories, making it an ideal choice for bodybuilders looking for low-fat, low-calorie, and high-protein foods. There are many ways you can prepare your turkey breast or add it to your favorite soups. Many fitness enthusiasts and athletes prefer turkey breasts to chicken because of their high protein content. Turkey’s breast also contains selenium, vitamins, and zinc.
Another incredible high-protein food is fish. Besides being an unbeatable high protein, fish has many health benefits. Fish has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, is rich in vitamins B2 and D, and is an excellent source of minerals. The omega-3 fats, namely EPA and HDA, offer unique benefits for bodybuilders, like reduced muscle soreness which helps with recovery after intense workouts.
15. Protein Powder
Protein powders are fast becoming popular with gym goers, unlike in the past when athletes and bodybuilders only used them. They are preferred for their high-protein content and the nutritional value they offer. Fortunately, they come in many brands, so you get a variety to choose from. Besides, you don’t need to spend a lot of time preparing them. Just a scoop into a glass of yogurt, and it is ready to drink.
16. Peanut Butter and Peanuts
Peanuts have high protein levels at about 7 grams per ounce which is higher than most nuts. Unlike popular belief, peanuts are legumes and not nuts. It’s crucial to add peanuts to your diet to aid in muscle recovery and muscle gain in your fitness plan. Apart from protein, peanuts carry other essential nutrients for your overall health.
Up Your Protein-Intake Today
Having protein in your diet daily is essential for a healthy diet, but eating high-quality protein is essential if you’re on a fitness journey. We have discussed the top 16 high-protein foods you can try.
Remember to get the right amount of protein in your food to achieve your goals faster.