There are several reasons why people start searching for information about high protein meats. It a subject that’s particularly interesting to bodybuilders and other athletes who are putting together diets that support good levels of muscle growth.
High Protein Meat – and Fish
The connection between protein and muscle growth is well-known.
Protein provides the amino acids that are the building blocks the body needs to make muscle, but high protein meats aren’t only interesting to people hoping to gain and sustain quality muscle tissue.
Some people start looking for information about high protein meats because they want to lose weight and have heard a high protein diet may help.
Top 5 High Protein Meat at a Glance
The truth of the matter is, everyone needs protein. It’s an important nutrient. We all need to consume it every day.
Protein is not just found in meat – there are non meat sources of protein as well such as plant based and from nuts.
The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein is 0.8 g per kg of bodyweight. However, plenty of evidence suggests eating more protein can support weight loss. Protein high foods are good at filling the stomach and keeping hunger at bay.
Apart from helping bodybuilders gain muscle, high protein diets may also help prevent loss of muscle mass due to aging.
Loss of muscle mass is seldom desirable. When we lose muscle mass it makes us weaker and degrades our physique. Additionally, loss of muscle mass can slow the metabolism, making us more prone to weight gain.
Whatever your reasons for searching for high protein, foods, we hope the following lists will help. There are three of them. The first list contains proteins taken from animal flesh. The second list contains fish and seafood.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian looking for good sources of protein, the first two lists won’t interest you, but the third one probably will. It lists several good plant proteins.
Meats are complete proteins. That means they provide the body with all the amino acids it needs. (https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/protein.html)
However, some meats, such as steak can be quite high in fat so it’s important to go for the leanest options.
All beef is good for providing protein, but steak is the best cut of all. The best way to cook it is to grill it. Some people fry it, but that only adding extra fat.
If you choose another cut, go for the leanest you can get. If necessary you can trim extra fat from the meat using a sharp knife or a pair of scissors. Mince is a popular option too but choose steak mince over normal beef mince. It should have a lot less fat, but it won’t be a lean as a nice piece of steak fillet.
Steak contains around 7 g of protein per ounce. It’s also a good source of iron. Many people don’t get enough iron in their diet. Eating more steak is a good way to help make sure your body is getting what it needs.
Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin. The red blood cells use hemoglobin to transport oxygen around the body. If you don’t get enough iron you may become prone to fatigue or, in a worst-case scenario, become anemic.
A bodybuilder’s favorite, steak is an excellent source of Vitamin B12. Also known as cobalmin, Vitamin B12 is a key ingredient in energy drinks because it helps the body extract energy from food.
Turkey breast is another high protein food that’s extremely popular with bodybuilders and quite rightly so. Meat taken from the breast is best. It’s leaner. Choose turkey breast fillets or steaks.
Roast turkey breast is 29% protein and, pound for pound, turkey contains less fat than chicken does. It’s also higher in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are the three most important amino acids. More than a third of human muscle tissue is made up of BCAAs.
Turkey is also a good source of Vitamin B12. It contains respectable amounts of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B3 as well.
Vitamin B6 is another popular energy drink ingredient. Vitamin B3 is also known as niacin. Like Vitamins B12 and B6, niacin aids energy production. Some bodybuilders take niacin supplements to improve their vascularity.
The problem with turkey meat is it has a reputation for being dry. It depends on the expertise of the cook, but roast turkey is particularly prone to this problem.
If you generally avoid turkey meat because you find it to dry, try combining it with other healthy ingredients to make a nice low-calorie curry. If you serve it with rice, choose brown over white because brown rice is higher in fiber and more nutritious.
Chicken is another meat that works well in a curry and, in the UK, roast chicken is often prepared as part of a traditional Sunday dinner.
According to figures provided by the National Chicken Council, each 3 1/2 ounce serving of skinless, boneless chicken breast provides 31 g of protein. At 28 g for the same-size serving, a chicken drumstick (skinless) is almost as good.
Although fried chicken is very popular you need to use discretion. The oils/fats used in its preparation add extra calories, as does the coating if you are eating something like a KFC.
If you don’t want to roast or grill your chicken, boiling it can be a healthy option. When combined with a combination of fresh vegetables, herbs and seasoning, chicken stew/casserole is a tasty and nutritious alternative.
Pork is the most commonly consumed meat worldwide. In a battle of the flavors, some people would choose bacon over pork every time, but pork is the healthiest option. It’s higher in protein and lower in fat.
Each 100 g serving of pork provides around 26 g of protein but, again, it’s important to only go for lean cuts or to trim away any excess fat.
The fat percentage of pork varies a lot. It’s typically 10-16% but it can be higher. The quality of the fat trimming can make a big difference.
Apart from being one of the best high rich foods, pork is a good source of vitamins and minerals including Vitamins B6, B12, and niacin. It’s a particularly good source of Vitamin B1 (thiamine) as well.
Normal pork is better than “cured” pork products, such as ham and bacon, because it contains less salt. Eating too much salt is not good. It can raise blood pressure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most Americans eat more than double the recommended daily amount (RDA) of salt. So, although ham and bacon are good sources of protein, there’s a lot to be said for choosing pork instead.
Lamb is often considered a greasy meat, but the amount of fat present depends on the cut you choose. The leanest options come from loin, shank, and leg. When it comes to calories and fat, all three options are comparable to beef and pork.
One of the good things about lamb is it contains less marbling than beef. After you trim the fat from the edges, you should find the meat is much leaner.
Lamb is generally 25% protein but, if you choose and prepare your cut unwisely, it may also be up to 21% fat. If you add extra fat while cooking, the fat content could be greater still.
Apart from being a good high protein food, lamb contains several other important nutrients including Vitamins B12 and B6. It also provides zinc, selenium, iron, and phosphorus.
Lamb chops are a popular choice for many people. Unfortunately, they are also high in fat. The best way to cook lamb chops is to roast or quick broil them. The best way to eat them is to cut out the meat and leave the rest of the chop on your plate.
However, if you want to keep things lean, leg steaks are probably the best option. Try grilling your lamb steaks and serving them with a nice salad.
Some Exotic Meat Options that are High in Protein
Depending on where you live in the world, the following three high-protein meats may be a normal part of your diet. However, if you live in the US or Europe, they will be exotic high-protein foods.
Eating exotic foods every now and again is a good way to add a little variety to your diet. It keeps mealtimes interesting and adds a little variety to your life.
Many people would frown at the idea of eating horse meat but it’s high in protein and incredibly lean. The same people would probably chow-down on a beefsteak or some pork fillet without giving it a second thought. It’s just a case of social conditioning.
The best cuts of horse meat contain around 50% less fat than you’d get from a similar cut of beef. Horse meat also contains double the amount of iron and Vitamin B12, along with a generous amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.
You can use horse meat to replace beef, lamb, pork, or any other meat in most recipes. In some countries, you can even buy slices of smoked horse meat to use in sandwiches or salads.
Again, you’ve got to be able to get past the taboo and try not to think you may be eating pieces of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. If you can do that, you’re all set and can take advantage of this unusual high-protein food.
Kangaroo is a red meat. It’s tasty and highly nutritious. With less than 2% fat, it’s also one of the most healthy meat choices you could make. Better still, the fat in kangaroo meat is mostly the unsaturated kind.
If you can find a supplier, kangaroo meat should be available as steaks and fillet. You should be able to get diced kangaroo and kangaroo mince too. Depending on the option you choose, the meat should provide around 21-22 g of protein per 100 mg serving.
Ostrich meat can be used as a healthy alternative to most other meats. It’s around 28% protein and less than 3% fat.
Ostrich meat is a good source of Vitamins B12 and B6. A 3oz serving of ostrich meat provides 88% of the RDA for Vitamin B12 and 25% of the RDA for Vitamin B6, along with 13% of the RDA for iron.
Ostrich is a good substitute for other meats. It can replace them in a lot of recipes and ostrich burgers are becoming an increasingly popular food.
Alligator meat is eaten in various areas of the world. The eggs are a good high-protein food as well.
Although alligators may not seem like an obvious food choice, the meat is high in protein and low in fat. If you live in the US you can buy it from specialty food stores. The same is true in certain other countries of the world, but many people may have to find a mail-order supplier.
Each 3.5 g serving of alligator meat provides 29 g of protein and is just 3% fat. The meat also provides significant amounts of Vitamin B12, niacin, potassium, and phosphorous.
Alligator meat is often used in traditional Louisiana Creole cuisine. You can prepare in many different ways. Popular methods include marination, deep-frying, roasting, stewing, and smoking.
Alligator meat is a good high protein food. If you can get past any hang-ups you may have about eating it, the only problem may be the price. Alligator meat often retails at up to $22 per pound.
Fish and Seafood Proteins
Like meat, fish is a complete protein. Apart from being one of the best high-protein foods, fish is packed full of other important nutrients as well. In fact, fish is one of the healthiest foods choices you can make and it’s an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish is sometimes known as brain food and the association between fish and mental health is not without founding. Further research is needed but a number of studies suggest people who have a lot of fish in their diets may have slower rates of age-related mental decline.
Fish is also good for providing Vitamin D. Many people are deficient in this important vitamin and statistics show 41.6% of the US population does not get enough Vitamin D.
There are lots of reasons to eat more fish. Its nutritional value should never be judged on its protein content alone.
Ask any bodybuilder, and they will tell you tuna is one of the best high-protein foods. One of the reasons bodybuilders love tuna so much is, apart from being high in protein, it’s very low in fat.
There are lots of different types of tuna available. You can buy it fresh or frozen and, of course, you can also buy it in cans.
Canned tuna is popular because it’s so quick and easy to prepare. If you are looking for a fast protein fix a can of tuna is just the ticket. However, although it’s often possible to buy tuna that’s canned with water, it’s often canned in oil instead.
If you decide to go for canned tuna, water or brine is probably the best option. Oils only add extra calories. Unfortunately, in some areas, oil is the only option. If you have to buy tuna in oil, choose olive oil, it provides compounds that are good for your health.
If you want the maximum amount of protein, go for fresh or frozen tuna. For maximum convenience, choose tuna from a can.
A 3-ounce serving of cooked yellowfin tuna should provide around 26 g of protein. The same size serving of tuna steak canned in water will give only you 20 g of protein.
Salmon is another good high-protein food you can buy fresh, frozen, or in a can. Like tuna, salmon provides high-quality protein. It’s also one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
A 100 g portion of farmed salmon should provide 22-25 g of protein and 2.3 g of Omega-3. Salmon is packed full of B Vitamins as well. A 100 g serving provides 50% of the RDA for niacin and 51% of the RDA for Vitamin B12, along with 47% of the RDA for Vitamin B6.
As well as being an excellent source of selenium and potassium, salmon contains the antioxidant astaxanthin, which is linked to several health benefits including lowering cholesterol.
If you disregard the convenience of the canned variety, there are lots of things you can do with fresh salmon.
You can eat it hot or allow it to cool and serve it with a salad.
Baking it in tinfoil is a healthy option, but many people prefer to poach it in water and a quick search of the internet should provide numerous salmon recipes for you to try.
Shrimp are low in calories and high in protein. One medium-size shrimp only contains seven calories.
To put things into perspective, each 100 g serving of cooked shrimp provides 24 g of protein and only 99 calories. Of course, if you coat it in breadcrumbs and fry it, the calorie count will increase.
The same can be said about drowning your shrimp in generous helpings of high-calorie sauce. There’s nothing wrong with a little sauce to add flavor, just don’t be tempted to go wild.
Shrimps primarily consist of two things. The first is protein. The second is water. That’s what makes such a good high-protein, low-calorie food.
The other thing to know about shrimp is they are highly nutritious. Four ounces of steamed shrimp provides 100% of the RDA for Selenium and around 75% the RDA for Vitamin B12. It’s also a good source of choline, phosphorous, and iodine.
Iodine is an important nutrient. It supports healthy thyroid function but a lot of people don’t get enough. This can slow metabolism and may lead to lethargy and weight gain.
Shrimps are high in cholesterol though. Be aware of that if your levels are already elevated. A 100 g serving of shrimp provides 189 g of cholesterol. That’s 63% of the RDA. However, if you eat shrimp sensibly and incorporate it into a healthy diet, it’s a high protein food that’s too nutritious to ignore.
Alaska pollock is a white fish with a light texture and mild flavor. It’s the type of fish most commonly used for making fish stick and is often used in battered products.
An 85 g serving of Alaskan pollock provides 20 g of protein, 50% the RDA for selenium, and 10% of the RDA for Vitamin D. Alaskan pollock is also a good source of Omega-3.
If you are eating a high-protein diet to lose weight, the best thing to do is avoid the battered and crumbed fish products. Choose fish fillets instead and poach them or bake them in the oven then serve them with a healthy salad and a small serving of boiled brown rice.
If you need a dressing, try apple cider vinegar and, possibly, a drizzle of olive oil.
Cod is another popular variety of white fish. It’s generally a little more expensive than Alaskan pollock but remains one of the cheaper types of fish to buy.
Cod is 18% protein. Each (231 g) fillet provides a whopping 41 g of protein, but only contains 189 calories. Cod is also a good source of potassium and Vitamins D3, B6, and B12.
This mild-flavored fish is often hailed as being one of the world’s healthiest foods, but if you like your cod deep-fried in batter, that’s never going to be the most heart-friendly way to go. Boiling it or baking it is a much healthier option.
If you decide to boil your cod, adding a little lemon juice or parsley to the water is a good way to add extra flavor.
Lobster meat is highly nutritious.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), lobster is 19% protein. An 85 g serving will give you 16.2 g of protein along with 81.6 mg of calcium and 68.8 mg of choline. Lobster meat provides many other important vitamins and minerals as well.
The most common way to cook lobster is to boil it or steam it. It’s a popular main course meal, but lobster can also be used as a nutritious sandwich filler.
The unfortunate thing about lobster is the price. During the 1940s, it was possible to buy canned lobster for 11 cents per pound.
If you wanted to buy a can of baked beans you’d be looking at paying nearly five times the price.
These days, lobster is seen as a delicacy and it’s an expensive food to buy. However, if you want to combine your high-protein foods with some high-living, lobster is the way to go.
Sardines are an oily fish that are 25% protein and rich in Omega-3. Depending on your location, you may find it hard to find fresh-caught sardines, but canned sardines are available all over the world.
The canned variety are often immersed in oils or tomato sauce, but it’s also possible to get sardines that are canned with water. Not surprisingly, that’s the healthiest option.
A lot of people don’t like canned sardines. One of the things that put them off is the fact that the fish generally come complete with their bones. The bones are soft and easy to eat though. They also provide extra nutrition.
Fresh-caught, grilled sardines can be a great option as part of a healthy, high-protein meal. They beat the canned variety hands down. However, canned sardines are a better option for making a healthy snack, such as sardine sandwiches or sardines on toast.
Oysters are 9% protein. That’s not as much protein as many other types of seafood provide, but oysters have an ace-in-the-hole that makes them worthy of mention.
As well as providing a respectable amount of protein, oysters are high in zinc, which can boost testosterone production. Testosterone is an important steroid hormone that supports muscle growth, helps provide strong bones, increases vitality, and also helps the body to burn fat.
On a side note, it’s been speculated the reputation oysters have as an aphrodisiac could be largely due to the presence of zinc.
Six medium-size oysters provide 32 mg of zinc. That’s nearly three times the RDA. Oysters are also an excellent source of Vitamin B12.