Top 7 Protein Sources for Building Muscle

Top 7 Protein Sources for Building Muscle

Looking for the best protein sources for building muscle?

When you’re on a weight loss program, you could end up shedding more than just fat.

You could accidentally cut your muscle too.

Many fad diets encourage certain bad habits like skipping meals, cutting out entire food groups and reducing your calorie intake to dangerously low amounts.

Whilst initially these can accelerate fat reduction, it could also have a detrimental impact on your muscle mass.

If you’re not only looking to cut fat, but fancy cultivating some impressive lean muscles too, the answer is simple:


Why choose Protein?

A champion macronutrient, protein works with your body in countless ways, from supporting weight loss[1], to reducing blood pressure[2] and promoting healthy bones[3].

Protein has also been the pinnacle of most bodybuilders’ diet plans as it is hugely complementary towards building and maintaining healthy muscles[4] by:

  • Increasing strength and muscle growth[5] for top gains
  • Speeding up recovery and your body’s ability to repair so you can achieve those gains quicker[6]
  • Is a great source of energy[7] to push your muscle pump ability
  • Helps reduce muscle fatigue and soreness[8]
  • Reduces muscle deterioration[9]
  • Curbs the hunger hormone ghrelin so you can cut out unhealthy snacking and nurture lean muscles[10]

Packed with muscle-building nutrients like essential amino acids which your body needs to build proteins and ensure efficient muscle growth[11], high quality proteins are key to achieving that lean physique with ultimate muscle definition.

How much protein do you need?

The trick with any diet is to keep it balanced. You need to make sure you’re getting the right amount of each macronutrient – Protein, Carbohydrate and Fat.

Research shows that in order to maintain a healthy body you should stick to a daily intake of:

40% Protein | 40% Carbohydrate | 20% Fat[12]

Using this ratio, your body will get the right amount of nutrients it needs to function properly and develop healthy muscle mass.

Some diets encourage cutting out certain macronutrients like carbs and increasing the amount of protein to, in theory, speed up results.

Unfortunately, when you’re looking to promote healthy muscles, having too much protein and not enough carbs could actually hinder your progress. Carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy so if you’re exercising a lot and cutting them out completely, your body could turn on your existing muscles and fat to satisfy the energy levels[13], leaving you with less body fat but lacking muscle definition.

So, keep it balanced guys – and you’ll make gains in no time!

Top 7 Protein Sources to Building Muscle

It’s really important to choose the right high-quality protein sources if you want to see rippling results.

So, we’ve put together a list of our top 7 favorite protein-pumped foods to get you started on the road to ultimate muscle definition!

#1 – Eggs

Protein Value:

1 x Large Egg = 13% DV of protein[14]

Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. Packed with components like B vitamins, they are a great mood-booster[15], as well as a keen energy source[16] and brain enhancer, so you could see significant improvements in your focus, motivation and overall athletic performance[17].

Set aside from that, they are high in choline, known for its integral part in muscle protection and growth[18]. They also carry essential amino acids needed to build proteins in your body which promote muscle development[19]. These acids have also been evidenced as effective for weight loss[20] too.

#2 – Seafood

Not one to suit everyone’s tastes, but for those who enjoy seafood, there are many muscle-related benefits that you can gain from eating it, especially since it’s packed with Omega-3 fatty acids.

When you’re training, Omega-3 is vital to increasing your muscle gains during exercise[21]. Not only does it play a huge part in fighting inflammation and repairing damaged muscles, it has also been linked to alleviating low mood and anxiety[22] too, giving you a strong basis to smash your muscle exercises every time.

We recommend:

  • Salmon – 3oz fillet = 45% DV of protein
  • Bluefin Tuna – 3oz fillet = 51% DV of protein
  • Shrimp – 3oz = 39% DV of protein
  • Cod – 3oz fillet = 41% DV of protein
  • Tilapia – 3oz fillet = 45.5% DV of protein

#3 – Soybeans

Protein Value:

1 x cup of cooked soybeans = 63% DV of protein

As a vegan, it can be hard to keep on top of your protein intake, which could limit your muscle health and development.

Soybeans are rich with protein and found in all sorts of different sources, from tofu to edamame beans and soy sauce making it easy to add into your diet.

Packed with antioxidants, soybeans have been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and cholesterol[23], as well as promoting healthy bone density[24] which could help towards improving your workouts.

We recommend:

  • Tofu – per cup = 87% DV of protein
  • Soymilk – per 16oz glass = 28% DV of protein[25]
  • Edamame – per cup = 46% DV of protein[26]
  • Soy Sauce – 1tbsp = 4% DV of protein[27]
  • Miso – per cup = 64% DV of protein[28]

#4 – Lean Meat

If you’re a meat eater, it’s important to recognize the most nutritious meat options to make sure you’re choosing the right ones for your needs.

When building muscle – or just looking to maintain lean muscle mass – lean meats are packed with vitamins and minerals complementary towards supporting healthy muscle maintenance.

Iron, for example, is found in most meats including chicken, beef and pork, and is great for muscle pumps as it is used to store and transport oxygen in your blood and muscles[29]. Therefore maintaining a healthy amount in your body is key to successful muscle development.

Selenium is another element found in most meats that is vital for healthy muscle functionality – including muscle repair, formation and maintenance[30].

We recommend:

  • Skinless Chicken Breast – 3oz breast = 54.5% DV of protein
  • Pork tenderloin – 3oz loin = 51% DV of protein
  • Turkey Breast – 3oz = 51% DV of protein
  • Lean beef (skirt steak) – 3oz = 48.5% DV of protein[31]

#5 – Greek Yoghurt

Protein Value:

1 x 200g serving = 30% DV of protein[32]

What people sometimes forget is how much protein can be found in dairy items. But for lactose intolerants, it’s a little more difficult to find a replacement.

Enter – Greek Yoghurt.

Jammed with healthy bacteria known as probiotics, Greek Yoghurt could be the protein-packed solution for those with lactose intolerances as it tackles digestive issues like stomach irritations. Plus it boosts your immune system too[33].

The acidity helps your body absorb the infinite amount of nutrients efficiently – including 18% of your DV for calcium which is key for building strong muscles[34].

The amino acid content also helps towards repairing fiber damage and regenerating muscle tissue[35] too, so it makes for a top snack after your workout.

#6 – Beans

Beans and legumes have endless benefits to your body – including supporting weight loss by curbing snacking[36], preventing inflammation and reducing blood pressure[37].

They are also packed with nutrients that promote top athletic performance like zinc which boosts muscle mass by raising levels of testosterone[38]. Plus the addition of B vitamins could help towards improving focus and low mood, whilst also reducing stress[39].

The combination of soluble fiber and protein content found in beans means you’ll be pumped full of energy to smash your workouts with strength that will last[40]. Fiber also pays an important part in your digestive and metabolic system so you can rid your body of waste efficiently and focus on building muscle[41].

We recommend:

  • Lentils – per cup = 36% DV of protein
  • Black beans – per cup = 30% DV of protein
  • Kidney beans – per cup = 31% DV of protein
  • Pinto beans – per cup = 31% DV of protein[42]

#7 – Cottage Cheese

Protein Value:

1 x 4oz serving = 28% DV of protein

As an integral part of many people’s diets – from weight watchers to bodybuilders alike, we thought cottage cheese needed a mention as one of the most lucrative forms of protein you can get.

Proteins account for 70% of the cottage cheese make up, along with a whole host of muscle-boosting nutrients such as choline[43], zinc[44] and calcium[45].

Its popularity probably stems from its ease of access, since it can be utilized throughout most mealtimes – from swinging a protein punch into your smoothies, to kickstarting salads and creaming-up scrambled eggs. Basically, if you’re needing a protein injection, cottage cheese is one of the quickest ways to get it.

80% of its protein is casein – which is a popular type of protein with people bulking up as it protects muscles from breaking down through prolonged absorption of the amino acids[46], and increases muscle growth potential[47].

The bottom line

It can be a challenge finding the right diet for you when you’re looking to cut your excess pounds. But make sure you’re not compromising less fat for muscle mass.

By adding these 7 protein sources into your diet, you’ll see significant improvements in your muscle growth and strength.

The more aware you are of what sorts of things to include in your diet, the quicker you’ll shed the extra fat and achieve that impressive muscle definition you’ve always wanted.