Protein. We go on about it all the time. And for good reason: It’s the fastest way to build muscle, burn fat and get the body you want. To do so, you need the best quality available, which comes at a price.
That’s why we’ve put together this – your definitive guide to protein, showing you exactly how much you’re getting for your hard- earned cash.
We’ve divided the foods into three categories: seafood, meat and poultry, and vegetarian. We’ve stuck to foods that are as natural as possible. So although they have a protein content of 80g to 90g per 100g, we’ve omitted supplements such as whey or soya isolate powders and focused on nature’s handiwork. The vegetarian options have, by necessity, been exposed to a certain amount of processing, so we recommend choosing organic versions.
The foods featured are ranked in order of their protein content – the more they have, the higher up the list they go. And in case you forgot: “If you’re training to get lean or build muscle you should eat 1g of protein per 0.5kg of body weight each day,” says UK-based sports nutritionist Matt Lovell (www.sportsnutritionvlog.com). “If you’re bulking up, increase that to 2g.” Print this list and stick it on your fridge door – it’ll serve as your shopping list for more muscle and better performance.
Note: Protein content listed is per 100g of food. All nutritional values are derived from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
Clams & Other Molluscs
A serving of clams will provide you with 302 per cent of your RDA of vitamin B12, which keeps your nervous system healthy and helps digestion. You’ll also get 128 per cent of your RDA of the antioxidant selenium. This boosts post-exercise recovery and reduces stiffness.
Eat them with Tomatoes. Their vitamin C helps you absorb iron.
This lean protein source has just 1g of fat per 100g serving and a hefty 311mg dose of omega-3, which will aid weight loss. A fresh tuna steak is the ocean’s equivalent of a multivitamin.
Eat it with Green tea. Researchers at the University of Purdue in the US found drinking this reduces the amount of mercury absorbed from fish by 92 per cent.
If you lack the oomph to train, snack on this. Just 100g gives you six times your RDA of the energy-releasing vitamin B12. It is also packed with selenium, which mops up free radical damage.
Eat it Pickled. Studies at Lund University in Sweden found that vinegar lowers blood sugar by 23 per cent when eaten with a high-carb meal.
Prawns And Shrimp
Protein Content 30g
Small in size but large in nutrition. They provide selenium, which aids recovery from exercise. They’re also low in fat (1g per 100g) and high in iron, which helps your muscles to burn fat.
Eat them with Avocados.Combining a plant with omega-3 fatty acids helps you absorb weight-loss-aiding fat.
This is the animal protein with the lowest saturated fat content, serving just 0.5g of fat per 100g. A 300g portion supplies your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium to give you the energy needed to train, protect you against cramps and help your muscles contract.
Eat it with Broccoli. The Institute of Food Research (IFR) in the UK found eating selenium-rich foods like cod, with food rich in sulphoraphane like broccoli, makes the meal 13 times more powerful at attacking cancer.
MEAT & POULTRY
Two chops will give you your RDA of niacin and vitamin B12, which will allow you to train longer. It’s a solid source of zinc and selenium which help your muscles recover quicker after exercise.
Eat it with Cruciferous vegetables (the cabbage family). These increase the body’s ability to detoxify carcinogenic compounds produced when meat is grilled.
One large breast will give you your RDA of niacin, which will help your body to produce energy from food and keep both your nervous and digestive system healthy. It’s low in saturated fat and carbohydrates, and a good source of omega-3 – an ideal protein source if you’re trying to lose weight.
Eat it with Chicken soup. A University of Nebraska study found it inhibits the release of mucus, which can obstruct your airways
when you exercise.
Two small fillets will provide your RDA of thiamine, which aids post-exercise recovery. It’s also a rich source of zinc, which helps your body to produce the muscle-building hormone testosterone.
Eat it with Pinto beans. Arizona State University found 125g reduced bad cholesterol by up to 9 per cent.
Turkey is rich in tryptophan, which a study in the Journal of Physiology & Anthropology found helps you enjoy better sleep, a vital part of any training programme. Save it for your evening meals, not right before training.
Eat it with Pasta or bread. The carbohydrates will help your brain absorb the tryptophan, where it is used to manufacture the feel-good chemical serotonin.
A 300g steak will provide you with your RDA of zinc, which helps in post-exercise tissue repair and in the conversion of food to fuel. Beef is one of the richest natural sources of the strength-booster creatine, a muscle-building aid.
Eat it with Greek salad. Steak can take a while to digest, leaving you feeling full for ages. If you want to lose weight, pair it with a low-calorie, nutrient-dense salad to aid digestion and help you absorb more protein.
Due to its long ageing, the protein in parmesan takes just 45 minutes to digest. You’ll get 138 per cent of your RDA of bone- strengthening calcium, which is vital for making your muscles contract.
Eat it with Tofu or chicken breasts. The Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in the US found people eat more of the healthy food if they flavour it with high-fat food.
This variety is the highest in protein. They are rich in fibre and 120g will provide your RDA of manganese, which keeps your metabolism high.
Eat them with Bangers. Research in the Cochrane Systematic Reviews found swapping high-GI foods like spuds for low-GI foods like lentils accelerates fat loss.
Just 50g (a handful) of walnuts will provide your RDA of manganese, which will help you recover from exercise faster.
Eat them with Pizza. A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that eating 40g of walnuts with a high-fat meal helps to maintain elasticity of your arteries, which can otherwise become clogged.
They are high in fibre, omega-3 and magnesium, making them a perfect snack for losing fat. Just 73g of almonds a day reduces free-radical damage in your body by 19 per cent, which hastens post-exercise recovery and reduces stiffness.
Eat them with Pasta. A study in the journal Metabolism found eating almonds with a high-GI meal cuts the amount by which your blood sugar spikes by 50 per cent.
Protein 48g Tofu will provide you with 184 per cent of your RDA of the antioxidant manganese. This mineral will strengthen bones, and metabolise carbs, cholesterol and amino acids. Tofu also has 24g of unsaturated (good) fats, which a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found aid post-exercise recovery.
Eat it with Vegetable soup. This will provide flavour and extra nutrients without any of the salty, preservative-filled seasonings that cancel out goodness.