Let’s start with a fifth-grade science fact; Proteins are the body’s building blocks. Pretty basic, right? Thus, it has been established that everyone needs protein for muscle growth. Besides that, protein also provides the body with energy and helps with fatigue.
This macronutrient is present in a lot of foods that you can consume to replenish and enrich your body of it. But are you aware of the foods that will benefit you most when it comes to protein intake? Well, that’s what we’ll do today.
Some of the best protein foods for muscle growth comes from animal meat, seafood, milk, cheese, eggs, lentils, seeds, and nuts. Many people, especially men, take the best protein powder for men besides their diet to accelerate muscle growth.
Usually, you need 0.8 g per pound of your body weight for muscle gain. Let’s see all the best protein sources in detail.
The list obviously includes vegan options for people who want to boost their muscle growth while maintaining a plant-based diet. So, let’s begin!
1. Animal Meat
The first on our list, obviously, is animal meat. Animal meat, be it fowl, veal, red meat, or any other, is a great source of protein. Fowl meat like chicken and turkey is considered lean meat and has about 35 g of protein per cup.
Then, you have red meat, which includes mutton, beef, bison, and venison. Among these, lean beef, bison, and venison are the ones that give you the required protein without actually increasing the fatty acids in your body. They also help with muscle fatigue and cell regeneration.
Another great option is lean pork which gives you about 40 g of protein per cup. Lean pork also doesn’t degrade your heart health and is great for overall bodily growth and function.
Even though I could’ve included fish and seafood in animal meat, they deserve their own categorization. Seafood, especially fish, is a great source of protein and fiber and has golden omega-3 fatty acids.
Some fish are richer than others and have precious amino acids like taurine. Seafood is also a trove of vitamins and minerals. Salmon and tuna are fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids and have about 50 g of protein per cup.
Eggs are a poultry by-product and hence are also a great source of proteins. The most protein you can get out of an egg is by boiling it or poaching it. This is because eggs lose a significant amount of protein when fried or baked.
A standard hard-boiled egg or poached egg contains a little more than 6 g of protein. Eggs also contain leucine, an amino acid that helps with muscle synthesis and growth.
Most of the protein is in the albumen, or the ‘white part’ of the egg. So, if you want to add some lean protein, you can eat eggs without the yolks, as that is where most of the egg’s fat is stored.
Dairy and dairy products, being animal by-products, are rich sources of protein. Milk contains 8 – 13 g protein per cup depending on whether it’s skimmed or high protein.
Besides helping in muscle growth, it also helps to strengthen your bones as it is a good source of calcium. However, soy milk and almond milk are also great options if you are lactose intolerant or vegan.
A cup of soy milk will give you about 7 g of protein in your daily intake. You can add it to your recipes and drinks just like you do with dairy milk.
5. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a popular choice amongst people who intend to boost their protein intake. This is because, besides being delicious, Greek yogurt is also high on the protein scale.
Just half a cup of Greek yogurt can give you as much as 12 – 18 g of protein. You can make a healthy meal with Greek yogurt by combining it with bananas, berries, nuts, and seeds.
As I said, dairy products are a great source of protein. If you look at it, all cheeses are a great source of protein. So let’s exemplify this with cottage cheese.
About half a cup of cottage cheese will give you 14 g of your protein intake. As it is derived from milk, this cheese is also a good calcium source.
Other than that, a cup of Cheddar will give about 30 g of protein while Mozzarella will give about 31 g. But you need to ensure you don’t exceed the saturated fat limit of your body.
Jerky is nothing but treated and dried meat. The two most common types found are beef and turkey. The meat has been dehydrated, and hence you get the protein in a concentrated form.
Only one ounce of jerky is good enough to give you 10 – 15 g of protein. So, you can eat jerky as a snack to get your required protein intake.
8. Protein Powder
Protein powders are a great way for people to equate their protein intake. Even though they aren’t natural, they do help reach their muscle and weight goals. You can go for whey or soy protein powder.
Whey protein powder gives you a little more than 16 g of protein per scoop. The soy protein powder is actually more protein dense and has 25 g of protein per scoop.
You can easily add these protein powders to your drinks, shakes, and smoothies for muscle growth. If you want to put a twist on your protein shake, try this protein fluff recipe to help you hit your macro goals. Soy protein powder is great for people who follow a vegan diet as it will bridge the protein gap.
Edamame is nothing but the name for immature/ unripe soybeans mostly eaten and used in Asian cuisine. It has been established that soybeans are a great protein source.
You can eat fresh, frozen, as well as dried edamame. If you choose the fresh or frozen option, you’ll be getting about 12 g of protein per cup. You can add fresh edamame to recipes like salads and stews.
On the contrary, dried and roasted edamame has more protein and serves 12 – 13 g of protein in just a single ounce. You can eat it as a snack, like a vegan jerky.
Quinoa is unofficially the super cereal of our time (even though it is a pseudo-cereal). It is high in protein but also has an array of nutritional benefits.
One great benefit of quinoa is that it’s gluten-free. Some other notable benefits are that it has a good amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You can get about 15 g of protein from 100 g of quinoa.
Chickpeas are popular around the world and are also known as garbanzo beans. They are a rich protein source and also a good source of carbohydrates.
They are also versatile and can be used to make salads, soups, flour, and even dips. You can get them fresh, soaked, dried, and canned.
If we take about canned chickpeas, it offers around 14 g of protein per cup. Thus it becomes a great protein option for people on a vegan diet.
Hummus, made from ground chickpeas, is extremely rich in hummus, with one cup containing as much as 21 g of protein.
12. Brown Rice
We all know brown rice is a great source of fiber and carbohydrates. But you need to know that it also has an adequate amount of protein.
When cooked, a cup of brown rice contains around 5 g of protein. If you pair brown rice with other protein-rich foods like beans, lentils, or chicken, you may very well create a protein-rich and balanced diet.
Tofu is made by coagulating soybean milk and is a great protein source. Besides, it is also a calcium booster for you and can be a great addition to a vegan/ plant-based diet.
For every 100 g of tofu, you get about 12 g of protein and 345 mg of calcium. You can use tofu in many recipes, including sandwiches, salads, and soups.
Dried and roasted vegetable seeds make great snacks and toppings due to their rich taste and crunchy texture. But they are also rich in protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
You can use pumpkin, squash, or sunflower seeds. To give you a number, a cup of these seeds will give you between 30 – 35 g of protein. So add them to your breakfast and smoothie bowl, or just snack on them.
Nuts are another category of foods rich in fiber, healthy fatty acids, and protein. Some of the protein-rich are walnuts, peanuts, and almonds.
Peanuts are the mightiest of them all and have 41 g of protein. They also excel in fiber and magnesium. Walnuts serve 15 g of protein per cup with a generous serving of 9g of omega-3 fatty acids.
If we talk about almonds, a cup of roasted almonds will give you almost 29 g of protein. They are also rich in vitamin B. They boost your energy and help you stay full for a long time.
Lentils are a great source of protein, essential amino acids, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. You can use them for many soups, stews, and other dishes.
Lentils have about 18 g of protein for every cup. They are also a great addition to protein-based diets and are especially great when combined and served with whole cereals like brown rice.
Like lentils, beans are a great source of protein, besides being rich in fiber, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Some of the beans that you incorporate into your diet are soybeans, green beans, kidney beans, black beans, and navy beans.
Each cup of beans has more than 15 g of protein. You can add them to your burrito bowls, stews, and other dishes and enhance your diet.
These are some of the best foods that provide you with some of the protein for muscle growth. I hope you liked our list. Let us know in the comments how much you liked this article.
I’ll see you another time. Until then, make sure you have a healthy and balanced diet. Take care and happy eating!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are some of the foods that are protein rich?
Some of the best protein rich foods are animal meat, seafood, milk, cheese, eggs, lentils, seeds, and nuts.
What is a great source of protein for a vegan diet?
Soybeans, edamame, tofu, beans, lentils, and nut milk are great sources of protein for a vegan diet.