We’ve compiled a list of the best high protein foods to build muscle. We’ll go over why protein is so important for building muscle, how much protein you should have, and what foods are packed with the best protein for you down below.
Most people want to build muscle mass and maintain their muscle whether they realize it or not.
While bodybuilders are always looking to increase their muscle mass and definition, most people want to have a more sculpted physique and even as we age it’s important to maintain muscle mass to remain active and fit into old age.
The trouble is that many people simply aren’t maintaining a diet with enough protein to maintain and build new muscle.
Keep reading and find out what foods you can add to your diet if you’re looking for more protein or higher-quality protein.
Why Protein is Important for Building Muscle
In order to build muscle in the different areas of your body, you must work your muscles and stress your muscle fibres enough to create microtears.
These tears heal and leave you with slightly larger and more capable muscles afterwards. In order to heal those microtears, your body needs access to amino acids, which is what protein is made up of.
There are 9 essential amino acids that your body needs to take in through your regular diet, and those amino acids aren’t all available from every protein source.
While they are present in most meats, there are only some plants that offer all the essential amino acids.
That’s why it’s important to have high-quality protein sources in your diet and to eat a diet containing more than one protein source as well.
How Much Protein Does the Average Person Need Daily?
There are lots of different opinions about how much protein you need to take in daily in order to effectively build and maintain muscle mass.
Some experts claim that you only need around .7 grams of protein per pound of body weight, while others say you need closer to 1.5 grams to 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
A safe range to stay within is around 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight in order to effectively increase your muscle mass and avoid losing lean protein throughout your body.
This is about 2.2 to 3.3 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight if you use the metric system.
That means a 160 lb man would have to take in between 160 and 240 grams of protein each day in order to be in the optimal range for building muscle mass.
With those daily requirements, it’s very important to have a list of good reliable protein sources that you can turn when planning your diet.
The Best High Protein Foods to Build Muscle
Since building muscle and maintaining your muscle mass requires taking in hundreds of grams of protein on a daily basis it’s important that you know what foods you should be eating regularly to meet those high requirement levels.
The food options below are some of the best high protein foods to build muscle because they offer an excellent amino acid profile and they pack in a lot of protein into a small amount of food.
Whole Eggs (13g protein per 100g)
Eggs are a powerful protein source that’s affordable and healthy all at the same time.
Eggs are packed with vitamins and they’re also a complete protein, which means they offer all of the essential amino acids that your body needs.
Adding just a few eggs to your daily diet is a good way to pack in some extra protein without too many additional calories.
Chicken Breast (31g protein per 100g)
Chicken breast is an excellent source of protein that also serves as a powerful dieting food.
Chicken breast offers about 80% of its calories from protein and the other 20% is mostly fat. It’s one of the staples of most bodybuilder diets and that’s because it packs a major protein punch with very few calories.
You can eat as much of this food as you like without worrying about taking in too many calories.
Turkey Breast (29g protein per 100g)
Turkey breast is very similar to chicken breast as a protein source. It’s low-fat and high in protein.
This lean protein source is a complete protein, it can be added into a wide range of dishes and it’s a powerful weight-loss tool.
Salmon (22g protein per 100g)
Even though salmon offers less protein per serving than something like chicken, turkey or lean beef, it packs in healthy fats and many vitamins that you can’t get from other animal proteins.
This is the main reason salmon is pushed as a healthy protein source for anyone looking to up the amount of protein that they’re taking in.
Eating fish like salmon will help you increase the omega-3 fatty acids you’re getting, which is beneficial for your heart.
Lean Beef (26g protein per 100g)
Not only is lean beef delicious, but it’s loaded with protein and vitamins like the B vitamins, selenium, and zinc.
Lean beef can be low-fat ground beef, steak or other beef cuts with a low amount of fat in them.
Usually, lean beef cuts have less than 5 grams of total fat per 100 grams of meat, which makes them excellent for dieting as well.
Tuna (30g protein per 100g)
If you’re looking for a food that you can get a huge amount of protein from, while consuming as few calories as possible, tuna is one of the best options.
For around 100 to 140 calories you can get as much as 25 grams of protein. When you’re trying to restrict your calories while building muscle tuna is a powerful tool.
It offers magnesium, potassium and B vitamins as well, which is a nice added bonus.
Cottage Cheese (11g protein per 100g)
Cottage cheese is nearly 70% protein and it gets most of its protein from the casein, a milk protein source that digests slowly.
This means that you’ll feel full longer after eating cottage cheese. It’s also one of the best calcium sources among the foods on this list.
Peanuts (26g protein per 100g)
Peanuts are a healthy source of plant protein, though this food isn’t a complete protein like all the other foods listed up above.
Peanuts also offer lots of fibre and healthy fat. Peanuts are higher in calories though, so try not to make your diet too heavy in them if you’re looking to lose weight.
Boiled Soybeans (Edamame) (11g protein per 100g)
Edamame or cooked soybeans are one of the few plant protein sources that are a complete protein. This nutritious food can be put into a wide range of dishes and offers loads of vitamins and minerals as well.
Chickpeas (19g protein per 100g)
Chickpeas are loaded with protein and they also pack in more fibre than most foods on this list. If you’re looking to up your dietary fibre, add some chickpeas to your meals.
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Lentils (9g protein per 100g)
Lentils are delicious, they make a rich addition to soups, salads and other dishes, and when mixed with whole grains they offer a complete protein that’s on the same level of quality as meat.
They’re a staple in any vegetarian diet and good to eat as a meat eater as well.
Seitan (75g protein per 100g)
Seitan is one of the best plant forms of protein that you can get if you’re looking for a way to greatly enhance the amount of protein in your diet.
Seitan is made from gluten, the protein found in wheat. It’s essentially gluten and water, which is why it’s the densest protein source on our list.
Seitan is a versatile meat replacement and it accepts most flavours well allowing you to use it in a range of dishes.
Best High Protein Foods To Build Muscle The Takeaway
If you’re struggling for a way to add more protein into your diet, this list should help you find some new options to use. The best high protein foods to build muscle are healthy and pack in loads of protein and other vitamins and minerals. Adding just a few of these foods to your diet on a regular basis will help improve your help and help you build new muscle while maintaining the lean mass that you already have.
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Hi, I’m David and I believe absolutely anyone can achieve the body of their dreams. I’m a qualified health and fitness coach and have been helping clients achieve their dream bodies for 15 years. Whether you are looking to get beach body ready, compete in a bodybuilding show or simply to improve your confidence and wellbeing, I can help.