Let’s face facts. Whey protein (I’m using whey as it’s the most common protein used for protein shakes) is part of the cheese making process they used to throw a-whey 😊. If you drink unflavoured whey with water, it generally tastes crap. It’s historically a by product that was dumped, but luckily for the environment and the fitness industry it now gets repurposed into all kinds of foods as a rich protein source.
Don’t get me wrong, whey has it’s place. Getting enough protein in your diet can be tricky, time consuming and the reality is you don’t always feel like cooking and stuffing some chicken breast and vegetables. Whey protein shakes prepared properly can be a reasonably tasty way to get your needed protein boost, particularly after a work out when timing of protein intake and general nourishment are important. However, in an ideal world it’s generally better to get your protein from good quality food sources.
Here are some of the best:
Eggs are one of the best protein sources, particularly as the amino acid score is the best you can get. If you get stranded on an island, you’ve probably going to be ok if there are plenty of chickens laying fresh eggs and a few fruit trees around. 2 large eggs weigh in at about 100g and have 12 grams of some of the best protein you’re going to get per gram. Eat the yolks for some quality fats and stay feeling full for longer.
Not as potent on the amino acid scale as eggs or even egg whites, but a reasonably close third place. Milk is a great protein source, particularly if you opt for the latest ranges of natural high protein milks now available on the market. Available with fat, half fat and zero fat, milk has 3.6 – 5g plus of quality protein per 100ml depending on the type.
While it may not be one of the most exciting fish out there, Tuna is a great (and super lean) protein source. It’s packed with between 27g (canned) and 30g (tuna steak) of protein per 100g with less than 1g of fat per 100g. It’s also low on calories at between 113kcal and 139kcal per 100g.
The staple of most carnivorous fitness freaks diet. Chicken is often a winner due to it’s relatively low cost and generally decent taste and flexibility. You can of course go for it’s extra lean cousin turkey, but the difference is marginal so take your pick. Both pack around 30g of protein per 100g although turkey has marginally less calories at about 127kcal per 100g vs 151kcal in chicken breast.
If you like your meat it’s hard to beat a good steak. While not as lean as chicken, tuna and white fish lean red meats have creatine and are great for boosting testosterone, particularly useful for men over 40. Marginally less protein than chicken and turkey at 29g a 100gram, serving it’s a slightly more calorific treat at around 182-197kcal per 100g. Choose your cuts carefully and aim for something with less than 14g fat per 100g.
Salmon is definitely a treat fish. It’s excellent combination of protein, essential omega 3 fatty acids and great taste make it a delicious addition to any healthy diet. It’s a little lighter on protein at around 21g a 100g serving and higher in calories (228kcal) due to it’s 14.9g of fat, but as mentioned this is good stuff your body can really benefit from. As long as it’s part of a generally healthy MACRO balance it’s definitely a fishy favourite.
White Fish (e.g. Cod or Hake)
While white fish is generally not as tasty as salmon, seasoned in the right way it can be pretty delicious. It’s also super low in calories at only 98kcal 100g, but still delivering you 21g of protein with less than 1.5g of fat meaning there might be just enough room for a bit of a treat.
Black Beans (and some other beans)
Not strictly a protein due to its 63g of carbs per 100g, black beans still pack 21g of protein per 100g. So if you’re a veggie or want to add some carbs to your 100g of lean meat, black beans can do the trick. They’re also filled with plenty of fibre, potassium, iron and magnesium to ensure you are getting plenty of the key micro-nutrients. With 339 calories per 100g they will also go a long way to making you feel full so you’re not tempted to reach for a snack too soon.