We’re always told to eat a load of protein. Some people seem to eat absolutely staggering amounts, even 3 grams per lb of bodyweight, I’ve seen in some cases. We’re inundated with protein supplements.
It’s obvious our bodies need protein for a balanced diet and good health, but my question is, do we need protein to build muscle mass?
Firstly, I’d like to say I’ve never met any bodybuilder, vegan or otherwise, who didn’t ensure they got a good dose of protein in their diets. I’ve also met plenty of people who’ve made impressive gains who didn’t subscribe to the usual 1-2 gram of protein per lb of bodyweight. In some cases, very low amounts of protein were consumed.
However it’s a proven fact that ‘adequate’ protein promotes a positive nitrogen balance, which is conducive to keeping your body in an anabolic (growth) state.
The people who appear to have the best results are always those who seem to eat protein regularly, around every 3 hours in around 5-6 small meals a day. This prevents the anabolic state from tapering off and keeps your body in a state of repair and growth (providing you have worked out!)
So yes, many people have made good gains without huge amounts of protein, but my question always is… how much better could the gains have been if the protein intake was higher? Chances are, probably noticeably better.
But not all proteins are the same. It’s easy to believe what we’ve been told, that a calorie is a calorie, and protein is protein, but that’s simply not the case. Good quality protein is the only type of protein worth eating to build muscle. Quality protein is contained in whole foods, also known as ‘complete’ proteins which contain all 8 essential amino acids, such as eggs, milk, beef, fish and chicken.
But, with so many foods to choose from, how will we ever know which sources of protein are the best?
If you talked to 100 bodybuilders and asked them what they thought the best sources of protein were, it’s a good bet that the majority would lead off with beef, and probably follow with chicken or fish.
They would be wrong. (Sorry, but it’s true.)
While it’s true that beef, chicken and fish are all excellent sources of protein, there are better sources. In this article, I’m going to explain to you how proteins differ, and why it’s crucial to stick to only the top sources of protein; 5 of which I’ll give you right here.
First of all, the usefulness (i.e. the effectiveness for growth of muscle) of a source of protein is determined by its biological value. The higher the biological value, the more useful and important that particular source of protein is for your muscle building efforts.
The following is a list, in order, of the top high sources of protein in whole foods:
1: Egg whites – (93.7)
2: Milk (84.5)
3: Fish (76)
4: Beef (74.3)
5: Rice (64)
So there you have it. If you stick with these high protein packed bodybuilding whole foods and print this list off next time you go to the store, you can’t go wrong.