The Best Protein Sources

Not all proteins were created equal!   Some proteins can be harder to digest than others, e.g. the protein in oats compared to the protein in eggs.  Some are complete, others need a little help.  It is generally believed that the amino acids from animal proteins are of the easiest to digest and absorb and are all complete proteins.  But!  Read on to see what a little research would reveal…

An important aspect in regards to proteins and hierarchy is whether or not it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids.  As already mentioned, all animal proteins, including eggs and dairy, are complete proteins. But fear not veggie and vegan friends, for there are also plant-based complete proteins!  Namely  soy, quinoa, chia, hemp, amaranth, buckwheat and algae.

Proteins have been called the primary material of life.

To start this piece off correctly with a little extra something: Protein intake recommendations are based on nitrogen balance studies, where the amount of nitrogen eaten is compared to the amount of nitrogen lost by the body.  Thus, for a healthy adult, the recommendations depend on the individual’s body size as well as the level or intensity of activeness.

A protein rich snack shortly after a good training session stimulates muscle protein synthesis. But remember, consuming around 20 grams of protein per meal will not result in muscle building protein capacity as much it would be used as fuel or stored as fat, among others.

The daily recommendations are 0,8 – 0,11 grams of protein / kg body weight.  To simplify, you should eat 0,8 x (your weight in kg) of protein everyday if you are a normal healthy adult.  And 0,11 x (your weight in kg) if you are an insane gym freak.

(Infants, children and pregnant women would have greater protein needs to promote growth.)

Diets too rich in animal protein tend to be rich in saturated fats, high in calories and low in fibre.  These factors could lead to serious health problems if you overdose on ’em… Talking about heart disease, kidney problems and diabetes just to name a few.  So let’s keep it balanced and in-check, ok?

Here’s a (rather long) list of Best Protein Sources in grams of protein/100g

Seitan

Takes the gold at 75g per 100g… It’s almost scary.  Seitan, aka wheat meat or gluten meat, is low in sodium, carbs and fat and high in iron and calcium.  Interesting history behind seitan but its ingredients consist of mixing the protein in wheat, gluten, with herbs and spices, then hydrating it water (or stock) and then simmering it in broth.  In short, it’s a dough made from gluten.  Once vital gluten flour is washed with water, the starches dissolve and leaves behind a mass of insoluble gluten with a meaty/chewy texture.  Seitan

Seitan, however, is still not a complete protein unless you add soy sauce to add gluten’s missing amino acid, Lycine.

Another downside is if you’re looking for a gluten-free diet (celiac/allergies or, uh uhm, Paleos/Noakes/Crossfitters) you can’t eat this.

Spirulina  spirulina

Now here’s one you might not know but you should…  Another superfood and with good reason!  At 60-64g of protein per 100g, complete and contains many minerals and health benefits.  Spirulina is a micro-algae grown and harvested from salty waters…  Sounds interesting yet?  Have you seen any Iron Man movie where Tony Stark wasn’t sipping on a green smoothie/juice??  Lightbulb.

Biltong!  

Originating from South Africa as an everyday snack, this product has swooped the fitness world off its feet!  It was hard to get a final read on this one, got results varying from 15g to 60g!  But according to the site that seemed most reliable (and sincere), biltong can boast up to 39g of protein per 100g, which is a lot of pro.  91JQJ0tIPaL._SL1500_

I suppose it’s hard to calculate but the reasoning behind it goes as follows: “…This means that when compared by weight to raw meat, medium biltong has a 80% to 100% higher concentration of protein, fat and calories. Because air-drying is far superior to cooking in terms of preserving trace vitamins and minerals, these are present in higher concentrations than in raw meat.”

Hempseed

37g and contains all 9 essentials.  Head over to Hemp Hummus to see a list of health benefits as well as a pretty yummy and fool-proof recipe.

Tuna  

Varies from product to product but a good can of dolphin friendly could contain up to 30g of protein per 100g.  The highest amount of protein (natural) is found in fish.  Bluefin tuna ranked highest.  If you have a choice, opt for fresh rather than canned.sashimi-de-atun-rojo

Other options include Salmon (20-22g), Halibut (20-22g), Snapper (20-22g), Tilapia (17-19g), Sole (16-18g).  Keep in mind most websites only give amounts for fresh and uncooked…You’ll probably add a little heat to most of these fish, thus the possibility of a couple of grams difference.

Poultry

Turkey breast is the winner at 24-28g, low in calories and sodium.  Opt for roasted and avoid processed meat and sauces to get the most out of it.

Chicken breast has around 18-23g, again, depending on the meat quality and your cooking methods.  The chicken breast is a bodybuilder favourite as it is the densest protein piece with a low calorie count as well.

Cheese…

Good news for all of you cheese lovers!  Who would have guessed this dairy product could kick it with the big boys?  First on the list is parmesan with an incredible 35-40g per 100g.  If you’re looking to gain mass, this is your cheese it contains sodium and a lot of calories as well!  But lactose intolerant friendly thanks to the long ageing process.

Mozzarella comes in at 25-30g.  But still not low enough in sodium and calories?  There’s a reason bodybuilders walk past all the cheese straight towards the cottage cheese. At 10-12g of protein per 100g and low in calories, who wouldn’t use it every day in salads, spaghetti and desserts?  And as with most dairy products, you can opt for low or non-fat options to cut out even more calories.

Sirloin

A natural source of creatine, high in protein as well as calories… Sirloin contains 24-28g of protein per 100g.

Chia seeds

Superfood alert!  Chia seeds vary in style and quality but since you can sprinkle this wonder cereal raw into your smoothie mixer it’s a mini powerhouse kick anyway!  Average amount of protein is between 20-30g per 100g.  And what’s more, it also packs a whole lot of additional benefits such as a source of calcium (5 x more than milk), fibre, iron, antioxidants and 8 x more omega 3 than salmon, whilst containing no cholesterol or any toxic heavy metal components.  How amazing for such a little seed??

Peanut butter

Snack on that!  Easy source of protein, around 24g to be exact, and rich in monounsaturated fats.  Opt for low in salts (sodium) and unsweetened products to get the most out of your peanut butter power.

Almonds

High in fibre and protein, almonds clock in 21g per 100g.  More highlights of this nut include calcium, iron and magnesium.  But just like any nut, keep in mind it also has a healthy but high fat content, so take it easy!  Opt for raw and avoid the added oil and sodium.

Tempeh  

Low in cholesterol and sodium and high in proteins!  This is a vegan-friendly option made from soy with endless cooking possibilities.  It contains 19g per 100g.Tempeh

Soy beans

Well this one has a variety of values!  Roasted, raw or dry, this bean can contain up to 40g of protein compared to cooked, sprouted or steamed with an average amount of 19g per 100g.  Still a rich source of fibre, calcium and magnesium and contains all 9 essentials.

Other beans include kidney beans (7-9g), black beans (7-9g), white beans (7-9g), broad/fava beans (6-8g), cranberry beans (7-9g), navy beans (6-8g), baked beans (3-5g).

Eggs

No need to explain anything here – they’re easy, a little heavy on calorie to protein ratio but what the heck!  Start your day right with protein!  Eggs measure up to about 13g of protein per 100g and with 155 calories.

Quorn  

Mycoprotein is some sort of fungus, some consider it to be part of the mushroom family and is a complete protein with 11-13g per 100g.SingaporeNoodlesrecipe

Edamame

Means green soybeans in Japanese, contains 11g.  Time for a Japanese dinner…

Greek yoghurt

We all know it, we all love it, and here is another reason why we can all eat more of it: around 10g of protein!

Lentils

Cooked lentils, 8-9g of protein per 100g, is a wonderful nutritional addition to soups, salads, dahl or on its own.  This is not a complete protein though, so you’ll have to add something like a grain (rice, rye, corn) or even nuts and seeds could work.

Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)

8-10g.   Combine this with your favourite hummus recipe and you’ll have a complete and tasty meal.

Quinoa

Superfood alert!  At 4-6g of protein (cooked), quinoa is often used as substitute for meat and rice, it’s tasty, versatile in cooking, contains all 9 essentials and is rich in other nutrients such as fibres and minerals.  Yes please!  Also low on Glycemic Index that helps to lower or maintain healthy cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar levels.

Amaranth  

This lesser known ‘undercover grain’ when cooked also kicks out about 4-6g and with a lot of the same and even more health benefits than quinoa. Use it instead of couscous or rice and you have a winner.  It’s got an interesting taste, nutty and earthy.  I like having it in the mornings for breakfast instead of oats and with berries. Hmmmm!Amaranth

Peas

These little buddies can contain from 4-6g of protein per 100g.  Love me some peas, I prefer them fresh.  The difference, however, between fresh, cooked and canned is hardly something to note.  So, we’re good.  They are a good source of fibre and contain vitamin C and thiamine (B1) as well.  Eat peas with a whole grain like brown rice to make it complete.

Buckwheat  

Is not a wheat!  It is rhubarb’s family!  The Japanese turns this into noodles called soba but most people just grind the seeds into flour to bake gluten-free.  This family member contains about 3-5g (groats cooked) and soba noodles, cooked, around 5g.

Kale  

Not a complete protein on its own but high enough to be noted at 4-5g per 100g.  Combine this leafy green with another high-protein, meat-free option and you’re good to go!Kale

Milk

Whether cow or soy, both contains around 3-4g of protein.  Opt for organic to steer clear of hormones, antibiotics, herbicides and pesticides.

All the info you need to live a healthy lifestyle,

yet statistics still show unhealthy lifestyles and problems are increasing…  

Iron Man Green Drink

But that’s none of my business

References:

http://bembu.com/high-protein-low-calorie-foods

http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-highest-in-protein.php

http://food52.com/blog/8406-all-about-vegetarian-proteins

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/the-5-high-protein-cuts-of-steak.html

http://www.menshealth.co.uk/food-nutrition/what-to-eat/tuna-vs-salmon

http://time.com/3895811/tilapia-health-benefits/

http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/36-cheeses-highest-in-protein.php

http://www.dietandfitnesstoday.com/protein-in-cheese.php

http://www.1hourathlete.com/nutrition/3-best-cheese-options-for-muscle-growth

http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html

http://blog.wellbeingnetwork.com/nutrition/16-sources-of-protein-for-vegetarians/

http://www.mycoprotein.org/assets/Nutritional_profile_of_Quorn.pdf

http://www.fujihealthscience.com/spirulina.html

http://nutritionstripped.com/pantry/spirulina/

http://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/health-benefits-of-amaranth/

http://greatist.com/health/complete-vegetarian-proteins

http://thebiltongshop.com/6/Nutrition.htm

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/pick-n-pay-beef-biltong-100g-211817360

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biltong

http://www.fatsecret.co.za/calories-nutrition/search?q=Biltong

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