Struggling to hit your protein? Not sure what high protein foods to eat for fat loss and muscle gain? ‘The Definitive Protein Cheat Sheet’, the most detailed and inclusive list of protein sources you’ll find, will help you out!
Instead of looking at the typical options you’ll find in any ‘best 10 protein foods’ blog post, you’ll get to explore ALL of the options in this article.
Today we’ll go beyond just how much protein a food has per 100g. We’ll quickly recap why protein is so important, then you’ll learn exactly how much protein you might want to aim for per day, what high protein foods are, and which proteins to include based on a few criteria.
Why is protein important?
If you’d like a full breakdown, click here to read more about the benefits of protein.
For now, let’s do a quick summary of the main reasons why protein is so important, and why you should consider looking into your protein intake.
- Protein is involved in almost every process in the body.
- Your body is constantly breaking down and rebuilding proteins.
- Multiple protein overfeeding studies suggest that it seems to be near impossible to store protein as body fat, even when eating an excess in calories (from protein).
- Protein helps you build and maintain muscle mass.
- It’s the most satiating macronutrient, meaning it’ll keep you fuller longer.
- With a whopping 20-30%, protein has the highest thermic effect out of all macronutrients.
How much protein do I need per day?
It depends, but for most people the optimal range for their protein intake seems to be somewhere between 1.8g/kg and 2.2g/kg.
In the case of weight loss I recommend using your goal weight or lean body mass (just be aware that most body scanners are inaccurate).
For maintenance or muscle gain, your total body weight should do.
What are high protein foods?
The Definitive Protein Cheat Sheet is split up into 5 sections ranging from high quality ‘complete’ proteins that contain a full spectrum of essential amino acids, to ‘incomplete’ medium-protein alternatives.
- Land animal sources.
These high quality protein sources are complete, generally easily broken down, and well-absorbed by the body. You’ll find both lean (low fat) and higher-fat cuts of meat.
- Sea animal sources.
Fish and other sea animals like shrimps and lobster. High quality sources that include some of the leanest or ‘pure’ protein sources available.
- Other animal sources.
Eggs, and dairy products (e.g. skyr, cottage cheese) that are slightly lower in protein per 100g, but also lower in fats compared to most land or sea sources.
As long as most of your protein intake comes from minimally processed, real foods, then supplementing with a quality whey, casein, or combined plant based protein powder can be a nice addition.
- Protein-rich alternatives.
This list is dedicated to our plant based friends and those who just want to include more plant based options. protein rich carb and fat sources’.
‘What high protein foods to eat for fat loss and muscle gain – The Definitive Protein Cheat Sheet’
What high protein foods are good for me?
Plenty of choice, right? I’ve done my best to include as many protein sources I could think of, but feel free to email me if you don’t see your favorite protein source and I’ll add it to the list for you!
Now with so many options, you’re probably wondering which foods are going to be best for you. Well, that I can’t tell you my friend. But what I can do is give you a few criteria to keep in mind when deciding what’s going to be your protein of choice.
To figure out what protein sources you want to include in your diet, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it a complete protein source?
- Do I have any sensitivities/allergies to this food?
- Do I digest it well? (Especially important with dairy)
- Do I go with a lean/fattier option? (Check both calories and protein contents)
- Do I enjoy eating this food? (Super important!)
- Does it align with my values? (Think veganism, certain religions, etc.)
That should get you started!
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- Antonio, J., Ellerbroek, A., Silver, T. et al. A high protein diet (3.4 g/kg/d) combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in healthy trained men and women – a follow-up investigation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 12, 39 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-015-0100-0
- Bray, George A et al. “Effect of protein overfeeding on energy expenditure measured in a metabolic chamber.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 101,3 (2015): 496-505. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.091769
- Leaf, Alex, and Jose Antonio. “The Effects of Overfeeding on Body Composition: The Role of Macronutrient Composition – A Narrative Review.” International journal of exercise science vol. 10,8 1275-1296. 1 Dec. 2017
- Antonio, J., Peacock, C.A., Ellerbroek, A. et al. The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 11, 19 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-11-19