Protein is the big buzz word in the training world. It doesn’t matter what kind of athlete you are or the training you do, you need protein. Even those who are not in serious training need protein daily and it’s especially important for those who are Vegan or Vegetarians. There are many sources of protein, some better than others in supplying the amounts of protein you need. So how much do you need? A simple equation can give you an approximate amount:
Take your weight in lbs. and divide it by 2.2. This gives you your weight in kilograms. Take your kilogram weight and multiply it by .8 (for average persons) or 1.8 for athletes. The result is the approximate amount of protein you need daily.
Now for the foods sources that can supply the best, quality protein for your body:
Chicken: Chicken is a fabulous source of protein. Low fat and packed with vitamins and amino acids, it is one of the top go-to sources of protein. It can be made ahead and eaten cold or re-heated anytime. The key to benefiting most from Chicken is to remove the skin. The skin is just a nasty fat layer – it has no benefits whatsoever. White meat has less fat than dark but dark has a greater amount of vitamins and nutrients. White meat has a bit more protein than dark meat. For example: 5oz of white breast meat contains 41g of protein. 5 oz. of dark thigh meat has 35g. Low fat, cost effective and packed with protein. Baked or roasted is the lowest fat method to use in preparation (keep the skin on until eating to keep it from getting dry).
Fish: The amount of protein in different types of fish varies. Trout has 252g, Cod 140, Salmon 34, and Tuna in water 220g. The easiest, cheapest and most readily available is Tuna. It is second only to chicken in popularity as a protein source. Tuna is very low fat (1-5g) and easily stored and prepared. Eating trout or fish that must be prepared is a great base for a dinner meal but is not a cook and take with you kind of meal. Tuna is simple. Both in a can or pouch, it can be taken with and preparation is simply draining and eating. No cooking required. It is one of the best sources of protein and the bonus of any fish is the Omega3 fatty acids that are so essential to our bodies. Tuna is also a very low cost way to get your dose of protein daily.
Milk Products: The jingle “Milk does a body good” is spot on. Milk, though not the highest source of protein, it is a good source and readily available. Milk products such as cheese also have protein but cheese tends to be quite a bit higher in fat. Milk has 8g per 8oz glass no matter which type you choose (non-fat, 1%, 2% and whole). The only difference is the fat content and calories. As you have probably guessed, whole milk is high in calories and has 8g of fat per serving. An alternative milk source is Yoghurt. It is full of live, helpful bacteria, has a few more grams of protein per serving that milk. Plain 8oz. plain yoghurt has 12g of protein and 4g of fat. Greek yogurt has 14g of protein and 0g of fat. Great sources of protein with the added bonus of digestive help.
Eggs: A few years back, when people discovered they needed to watch their cholesterol, the under informed masses began avoiding eggs. Eggs have made a comeback in a big way and with good reason. Eggs are another amazing source of protein. Hard boiled eggs are an easy, portable snack. Jumbo eggs have 8g of protein, Egg whites only have 4g of protein and Egg Beaters have 5g of protein. Eggs are high in cholesterol, but are a good source of protein to have once a day, maximum if you have cholesterol concerns.
Beef: Nothing makes the neighborhood’s mouth water faster than the smell of beef on the grill. Grilling is the best way to prepare your beef as it adds no fat and maintains the flavor. Beef has gotten a bad rap, just like most every food on this list. But again, it is a matter of moderation and the type of beef chosen that makes the difference. If you buy 70% ground beef, you are getting almost 1/3 fat. Yes, it is cheaper but you will be adding a lot of fat to your diet which is never a healthy idea. 90%, though more expensive, is less fattening and higher in protein, at 24g. Steak is an even higher protein content at 44g for an 8oz. T-bone and 48g for an 8oz. flank steak. Beef is an excellent source of zinc, iron and protein (ZIP). Beef should be eaten in moderation and a few times a week to keep the fat content of your diet lower. It is not an easy to make on the go type of meal, but a good sit down dinner a couple of times a week is a good thing. Beef jerky, though made from beef, is not a significant source of protein and has a very high salt content.
Whey Protein: Whey protein is a milk by-product from the cheese making process. It is the liquid that remains after the cheese forms. It is consumed mostly in a powder form or pre-mixed drink, although it is also found in certain foods like ricotta cheese and Greek yogurt. It is a staple in gyms across the world as it is known for its muscle building and muscle recovery properties. It is a complete protein full of branch chain amino acids that are vital to the body, yet the body cannot produce. It is a safe protein source and is often found in powdered baby formula and meal replacement drinks. For the purposes of working out, it can be consumed before or after and still provide excellent benefits but is highly recommended for immediately after workouts as is especially adept at muscle healing and recovery. When consuming 100% Whey Protein, you are consuming an all-natural protein source with no added fillers or salts or sugars or fats. It is a low to no fat option to meet your protein needs.
Casein Protein: Casein is a milk product that is the curd portion of the milk. It is also consumed in a powdered form or in its natural form (think cottage cheese). Casein supplies the same amino acids that Whey does but is not as quickly digested, which slows the absorption rate. Because of this slower rate, a lot of athletes like to take their Casein at bedtime. It stays in the system for 7 to 8 hours which allows a slow release method that can help in healing and restoration of muscles through the night – when the body is at rest and can heal.
Soy: Soy is the only plant-based protein source to make the list. It is available in many different forms but is sometimes discounted because it does not contain the amino acids that other protein sources do. Plus, most plant based protein doesn’t provide as much protein as animal-based protein. It is often the go to source for Vegans and is an amazing provider of anti-oxidants.
All of these will provide sufficient protein amounts to meet your particular protein needs. All are high in protein and low in fat. Creating a meal schedule based on your protein needs is a great way to keep track of your protein intake and keep your diet balanced. You can find the cheapest protein powders online here.