Best Protein Source?

Best protein sources to build healthy muscles

As the lock down slowly began to loosen up, millions of people, particularly those that couldn’t get regular workout will begin to.., if not already preparing to get back to shape. That is when the commonly asked questions that populate the media; “What kind of protein should I take?” “What kind of protein powder is best?” “What kind of protein shakes do you drink?” in order to build muscles.

In addition, high protein diets have also become quite trendy in the general population as part of many weight loss programs.

Why Can’t Life be Simple?

Knowing this, especially now that millions of people are trying to get by, will prevent you from wasting your hard-earned money that can be used for other important needs.

To be honest with you, nothing is ever what it seems to be. Our world is so corrupt, full of greed and atrocity that you can’t even trust the news. Let alone the food, research, and health industries. The reason I said all these is because every research I have done on every topic, there are so much conflicting information. I came to the conclusion me that there is very few scientific study (without bribes) anymore.

Most food label contents are inaccurate. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up, rather we can make the best out of the situation and strive to live healthy.

If you have any questions or have recommendation for any product you will like me to review and give you my insight, please let me know by leaving a comment at the end because it will give me great joy to know that I’m truly helping someone achieve their dream.

When it comes to making choices to use the best sources of protein for building weight, quality in terms of source is just as critical as quantity. This article provides you with all you need to know to make informed choice.

This page contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to make a purchase through them, I will receive a commission. For Full details, Please check my disclosures on the home menu.

Since I have cleared the air, let’s get started.

What is protein?

Protein primarily used for building, repairing, and maintaining cells, tissues, organs, and systems throughout your body. It also provides energy and supports to your cognitive and emotional (mood) function. Though protein can be found virtually in every food we eat on a daily basis, but there continue to be misconception about protein and its sources.

When you eat protein, it is broken down into the 20 amino acids that are the body’s basic building blocks for growth and energy. The amino acid tryptophan influences mood by producing serotonin, which can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve overall cognitive function.

Majority of animal sources of protein, such as eggs, fish, meat, poultry, and fish contained all the essential amino acids needed by your body, but plant-based protein sources such as legumes (beans), vegetables, grains, and nuts often lack one or more of the essential amino acids.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to eat animal products to get the right amino acids. For those, especially vegans, who don’t eat animal protein sources, can still have complete protein by eating mixture of plant-based protein sources daily.

The health benefits of protein

Protein provides your body with the raw material to build strong, lean muscle. Your body convert the extra and store it as sugar and fat to be use as energy source during workout. Just like the saying, “too much of everything is bad.” Excess protein could be toxic to your body, especially if you have any chronic diseases such as cardiovascular, diabetes, kidney disease, chronic gout, and others.

To obtain the optimum benefits, you need to eat the right amount of high-quality protein. These are the benefits:

Can help you lose weight, maintain a healthy weight by decreasing your craving (appetite), making you feel full longer, and boost your energy while exercising.

Proper immune system, cardiovascular, and respiratory functioning, including faster recovery post workout (exercise).

Can help with cognitive and memory functions (better focus and concentration)

Helped with mood enhancement and boost your endurance (resilience) to worries, stress, anxiety, and depression

Can help decrease your risk for overweight/obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease

Important for proper child growth and development, including your senior years.

Can improve your mood and boost your resistance to stress, anxiety, and depression

Protein is also vital to the way you look (appearance) and you feel energetic and healthy.

Last but not the list, high-quality protein can help you maintain healthy skin, hairs, and nails, build and maintain lean muscle mass while dieting.

The problem with Western diet is not the quantity but the quality of protein we eat on a regular basis.

How can you tell which food has the best Protein Source?

Partly by differentiating between high vs low quality which high comes from grass-fed, genuine organic and low from industrially (processed) grown sources. Using Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS).

Note: The problems with processed meat include excess salt as preservatives, causing harm to your health by increasing your blood pressure. Also, studies have connected them (preservative substances) to increased cancer risk.

The truth is that we have to be realistic about our world. Nothing is certain anymore about the food, the news. Basically, you can’t really know if what the label says, is actually what it is.

The key to eating high quality protein is to make sure your diets contain mixture of different types of protein source, instead of using only processed or excess red meat.

Quantity also matter: How much do you need?

“Do everything in moderation” means quantity matters. These are recommendations for optimum result.

For adults, eat at least 0.8g of protein per kilogram (2.2lbs) of your body weight each day. That means a 160lb woman should eat at least 58 grams ((160lbs/2.2lbs) x 0.8g) of high-quality protein per day. But if you are trying to build muscle, engaging in extreme exercise/workout, you will probably need more.

Also, in the case of women who are nursing, should take about 20 grams more of high-quality protein a day to support milk production than they did before pregnancy.

Note: A higher intake may help to lower your risk for obesity, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.

For elderly folks, recommended amount, 1 to 1.5 grams of protein for each kilogram of weight (think 0.5g of protein per lb. of body weight if that’s easier).

According to an Environment and Nutrition source, you should try to divide your protein intake equally among meals.

Best sources of high-quality protein

Proteins from animal sources are complete and they include eggs, meat, fish, poultry, and milk. These provide the highest quality rating of food sources. Although protein from these sources are also linked with high intakes of saturated fats and cholesterol, there have been a number of studies that have demonstrated positive benefits of animal proteins in numerous groups.

Fish. Majority of seafood have high quality in protein and low in saturated fat. Fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, trout, anchovies, sable fish (black cod), and herring are also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Experts recommend eating seafood at least twice a week.

Poultry. Removing the skin from chicken and turkey can significantly decrease the saturated fat. In the U.S., non-organic poultry may also have antibiotics and been raised on GMO feed grown with pesticides, so preferably choose organic and grass-fed (free-range) if possible.

Beans. Beans and peas are packed full of both protein and fiber. Add them to salads, soups and stews to boost your protein intake.

Dairy products. Products such as skim milk, cheese, and yogurt offer lots of healthy protein. Beware of added sugar in low-fat yogurts and flavored milk, though, and skip processed cheese that often contains non-dairy ingredients.

Nuts and seeds. As well as being rich sources of protein, nuts and seeds are also high in fiber and “good” fats. Try use nuts like almonds, pistachio, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts Add to salads or keep handy for snacks.

Though some experts are claiming that certain nuts like peanut has high level of lectin that are toxic to your gut causing “leaky gut syndrome.

Tip: So, watch how much you are getting and choose the amount based on your level of activities.

Tofu and soy products.

Non-GMO tofu and soy are excellent red meat alternatives, high in protein and low in fat. Try a “meatless Monday,” plant-based protein sources are often less expensive than meat so it can be as GREAT FOR YOUR POCKET as it is for your health.

Although people that Soy products should be avoided especially for men claiming that it has high level of estrogen hormone. I will keep you inform as I research more.

Tips to increase your protein intake

  1. 1. Replace processed carbs with complete (high quality) protein. It can decrease your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke, and the additional benefit of making you feel full longer, which can help maintain a healthy weight.
  2. 2. Reduce the amount of processed carbohydrates you consume—from foods such as pizza, pastries, cakes, cookies and chips—and replace them with fish, beans, nuts, seeds, peas, chicken, dairy, and soy and tofu products.
  3. 3. Snack on healthy nuts and seeds instead of chips, replace a baked dessert with Greek yogurt, or swap out slices of pizza for a grilled chicken breast and a side of beans.

If you Not a fan of seafood fan, Try this suggestion

If you’re not a fan of seafood, but interested to add more in your diet, there are techniques to make fish more palatable.

Always purchase fresh fish. Some say salmon, tilapia, cod have the least “fishy” taste. Disguise the taste by adding a sweet savory sauce.

Marinate fish with Cajun or Creole seasoning.

Add white fish or shellfish, such as cod or tilapia, to a curry.

Combine grilled fish with fresh salsa or your favorite chutney

Mix canned salmon or tuna with low-fat mayonnaise and chopped onion for a tasty sandwich filling.

Source: Helpguide.org

To avoid problems when increasing protein intake

When shopping for canned beans, choose the low sodium versions.

Choose unsalted nuts and seeds, to reduce your daily sodium intake.

Adding more protein to your diet can increase urine output, so drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Increasing protein can also lead to calcium loss so, make sure to get plenty of calcium
(1,000 to 1,200 mg per day).

Protein powders, shakes, and bars

In most cases, consuming the right balance of whole foods each day will provide you with all the nutrients you need, negating the need for protein supplements. However, you may benefit from supplementing your diet if you’re:

If you are interested in becoming a body builder or into extreme strength and endurance athletes.

A teenage still in the growth phase and exercising excessively.

Becoming a vegan—eliminating meat, chicken, fish, and even dairy and eggs from your diet

An older adult with a small appetite who finds it difficult to eat your protein requirements in whole foods

Starting or increasing a regular workout program, trying to add muscle, recovering from a sport injury, or find you feel weak while exercising or lifting weights

Using protein supplements

Protein supplements come in variety of forms such as powders you mix with milk or water, premixed, ready-to-drink shakes, or in bars. The most common types of protein used are whey, casein, and soy. Whey and casein are milk-based proteins, while soy is the better choice for vegans or anyone (female) with a dairy allergy, but not so good for men. If you want to add protein supplements in your diet to achieve faster result, click my Best protein Supplement.

Safety concerns. Protein supplements may not be safe for older people with renal disease or people who have recently undergone surgery on the digestive system. Some ingredients may even interact with prescription medication, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before using.

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and make sure you’re getting enough calcium in your diet.

Look out for extra ingredients. Many protein bars are packed with carbs and added sugar.

Final Thought

Protein from animal sources seems to be a vital source of protein from infancy until maturity in adulthood in humans. However, the potential health concerns associated with a diet of protein consumed primarily from animal sources should be acknowledged. With a proper combination of sources, vegetable proteins may provide similar benefits as protein from animal sources. Maintenance of lean body mass though may become a concern. However, interesting data does exist concerning health benefits associated with soy protein consumption.

In athletes supplementing their diets with additional protein, casein has been shown to provide the greatest benefit for increases in protein synthesis for a prolonged duration. However, whey protein has a greater initial benefit for protein synthesis. These differences are related to their rates of absorption. It is likely a combination of the two could be beneficial, or smaller but more frequent ingestion of whey protein could prove to be of more value. Considering the paucity of research examining various sources of protein in sport supplementation studies, further research appears warranted on examining the benefits of these various protein sources.

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33 Comments

  1. Hi Benson,
    There’s a lot of great information in here. How did you learn so much about protein? I was also wondering if you knew how much protein a person can digest in 1 sitting.

    Best regards,
    Sonia

    • Hi Sonia,
      Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read and comment on my recent post. Very interesting questions and I’m very glad that you did asked. Let me start with how did I learn so much about protein? Reason been that 1, I just finished medical school in the U.S., before that, I spent 2 years in medical school while living in Nigeria and did my undergraduate in biology. Also, I was a medic in the U.S. military, so is very important that I’m the expert in the human science (Read countless number of books, articles, etc). Beside, I when I migrated to the U.S., I was very athletic (lean) weighing 143 lbs, but that changed after I was picked up in a club dancing floor like a kid by one overweight lady, that was when my personal quest for muscle gain started (took every and anything I come across to defy genetic).
      For the other question, although, several sites and articles continue to promote that the absorbable amount of protein in one sitting is between 25-35gram, but to some extend is not true. People tend to focus on the wrong thing, and that is why they are easily scam by the food and weight loss industries. This is not “one size fit all” being that everyone metabolism is different (fast and slow), and age is also a factor based on the need. For example, even though a child still growing and need a lot of protein (nitrogen) can not consume that much in one sitting due to metabolism. Also, extreme athlete or bodybuilder post intensive workout resulting in a shredded muscles need more protein that I believed that state (nitrogen deficit) even in sickness the body can digest more than that.In medicine, we used to focused on how long it take for protein digestion to finish (roughly 2-3 hours) and absorption 3-6 hours). Also that different if its powder, shakes already in the digested form (amino acids).
      I hope this answer all your question, otherwise leave me a message.

      V/r
      Benson

  2. Hey Benson. That’s a great article. I am a fitness professional and have been for more than 15 years. I a also vegetarian, so have researched the “soy argument”. Men have to eat A LOT of soy in order for the estrogen to affect them. I would love you to write an article on this, so that people can expel the soy myth. Great work mate.

    • Hi Puneet,
      I appreciate the comment and great to know that you are a fitness professional with great experience which I surely will need your input and suggestion from time to time if it’s okay with you. Because my goal is to provide the best, genuine, and safe information to help people.
      Agreed with you on the Soy argument because I myself used it for years simultaneously with Re-build mass and Wheybolic power (with testofen ingredient) which I didn’t noticed any side effects until one of my buddy, also a medical colleague I was helping to lose weight mentioned it, so I briefly researched it, and couple of articles mentioned it so I decided to put it there so people know.
      On that note, I will definitely write an article on that so people know about the entire truth of soy products for men.
      Thanks again, and I will let you know when it’s out.
      V/r
      Benson

  3. Hi Benson,

    Great post. I have used protein myself as a supplement for years now. As you mentioned, there is a large number of products on the market. I can honestly say I have used various different products through the years and some have made me feel sick after digesting. I think that shows the lack of quality in the protein.

    You also mentioned about ingredients and how you don’t know whats in them.
    I always go for a good plant based hemp protein. I find that works better with me.

    Keep up the good work pal.

  4. Great post with a lot of valuable information. Coincidently my teen boy(age 17) is thinking about increasing his protein because he used to work out more during school before quarantine and got away from it and now he wants to get back into shape. I think I will just make sure I use the list of foods you provided and store up on those instead of having him consume protein shakes, what do you think about that?

    • Hi Melissa,
      Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read and comment on my post. I understand your son’s concern because he is not the only one. I did felt like that after returning back from clinical rotation and get stock at home babysitting my kids, then I bought some pull up bar, etc.
      Using the list of food, absolutely the best; which he can break at least 2 eggs with some healthy fruit to make smoothy. The other benefits is that he doesn’t have to worry about stomach upset from protein powder and shakes. Lastly, he will be healthy and the same time fit.
      The only reason, I will recommend certain protein powders and pre-workout is if he doesn’t have time to make a smoothies or cook health food at home (But he have you mom so that shouldn’t be an issue). Otherwise leave a comment if he wants any recommended powders with less side effects and great efficacy.
      Hope this help.

      V/r
      Benson

  5. Thank you so much for this highly informative article, Benson! I am definitely trying to get back into the gym and take better care of myself, and I always wonder if I’m consuming the right amounts of protein. I love seafood, meat, peas, bananas, and protein bars, and I try to incorporate them into my everyday diet. I am definitely going to take your tips to heart and will continue packing on the protein! Haha God bless you!

  6. Hi Benson,

    What a lovely post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was interesting to see the non-veg foods that are rich in protein especially the cauliflower, which I was not aware of.

    Thank you

  7. Hello, what a detailed and well researched article. My daughter has decided to be a vegan and I worry that she will not get the right amount of protein needed for growth. However, this post has made me realise that I don’t have to eat animal products to get the right amino acids. As a vegan, amino acids can be obtained from eating a mixture of plant-based protein sources daily.

    • Hi Ekufaa,
      Absolutely you don’t have to worry as long as she is maintaining her Vit B12 using supplement from a high potency source she will be fine. Please help me extend my compliment to her for taking the first step to a healthy lifestyle.
      All the best. Please let me know if you have any question or recommendation that I can be of help with.

      V/r
      Benson

  8. I’m going back to the gym soon and this post was exactly what I needed to see. I respect protein powder industry and even have used their products myself. But there’s no supplement to all-natural protein from variety of foods. Thanks for sharing this post and keep delivering awesome content!

    • Hi Ivan,
      Truly appreciate the time out of your busy schedule. I’m glad I’m able to provide you will exactly what you need. You see, there are some who will prefer the powder, or shake maybe the convenience or psyche of drinking something in the gym during or immediately workout. My job is to provide genuine information and let people make informed choices. Go out there and recover those lost COVID-19 muscles and tell me how it goes.
      Stay bless.

      V/r
      Benson

  9. Excellent in depth article.
    I know one of the tips I learned a few years ago that I’ve seen benefits from is varying my protein consumption.
    As example, if I am consuming a lot of chicken for a week or 2 switch up and consume a lot of beef for a week or 2, or some pattern like that. I do the same with my protein powders. If I purchase a whey bottle, my next bottle might be beef protein, or a vegan.

    • Hi Lee,
      Thanks for visiting and taking the time. Thats interesting to know. Switching sources could be a great idea to give our body varieties. I usually switch things around when doing extreme workout but never really associate it any enhancement.

      V/r
      Benson

  10. Such an informative, well-written article with bags of great information.

    I can resonate with what you said about living in a corrupt world and it is clearly in sight for everyone to see, the problem is that people, in general, aren’t interested.

    Coming from medical school I’m sure you are fully aware of the changes in Big Pharma and carried through to such schools for control coming from the ’30s.

    I did go through a spell where I went to the gym with the intent of building muscle mass, but my dedication just wasn’t there and besides the internet was in its infancy days, not like it is today, where everything is at your fingertips.

    Eating the right things is very difficult for me especially as the other half doesn’t like things like seafood, meat etc so I find myself eating the right things now and then.

    Thank you for sharing

    • Hi Mick,
      Thanks for visiting my site. Understand that it can sometimes be challenging to live a healthy lifestyle, which the majority of the media expert don’t understand because they don’t preach what they are trying to sell. That is why I always encourage people to start gradually, with a small change and continue to step it up. You are right that it can be even next to impossible when a family member is not supportive, which is the reason. At the same time, medical providers encouraged family education and support for success. In the end, though, it comes down to your future health. If you don’t make the change now, you definitely will pay the consequences of ill-health. Anyway, I will continue to encourage you and others to take the first step to a new and rewarding life.

      V/r
      Benson

  11. Hi, Benson thanks for you article. it is very thorough on this complicated topic.
    my own experience is to combine some protein sources with plants being the primary one. Personally I’m against the use of whey protein in my personal life but I understand that it is a good source for protein.

    • Hi Faresd,
      Thanks for taking the time to visit my site. Natural is usually the go-to, but from my experience, a lot of people especially athlete tend to prefer the convenience of pure whey powder without the extra stuffs that such as testosterone booster that are in the other powders.
      Stay bless.

      V/r
      Benson

  12. Hi Benson,

    Thanks for a complete and very informative article about protein sources. It’s nice that you covered everything from animal to plant sources and even supplements.

    I also like the part where you give tips on eating seafood. Sometimes when I don’t really feel like eating fish, I do what you’re suggesting: make a strong tasting sauce to cover the fishy taste.

    Best Regards,
    Joonas

  13. I never knew that eggs were such an efficient source of protein. When I opted for a vegetarian diet, I craved eggs and this is probably why. do you have any recommended supplements for vegetarians?

    • Hi Catherine,
      Thanks for visiting my website for your research need. In response to your question, there are several options you can use according to consumerLab.com
      whey and casein protein-made from milk, good for vegetarians but not for vegans. They are both complete proteins. Whey protein is mainly high in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are important to replenish after exercise and are needed for maintaining muscle.

      For Vegans or those that prefer plant-based protein, they should try protein powders made from hemp, soy, pea, and rice. Also, a mixture of these sources can be a good choice. Soy protein is a complete protein, but should not be taken if you have a soy allergy or thyroid problem.
      I hope this helps.

      V/r
      Benson

  14. Thanks for sharing the great content! It let me know more and understand what is the high quality protein sources from my daily food. And also thanks for the tips about increase my protein intake.

    Keep it up for more great content!

  15. Thanks a lot for sharing this post. The chart that shows the amount of protein per source is extremely beneficial. I usually eat a lot of protein from animal origins. But I have neglected the other side (fruits, vegs, and nuts) completely. I have to start mixing more again. I’ve learned a lot from this post. Thanks again!

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