Diet is one of the most often overlooked aspects of training, athletes don’t always associate eating with getting the results that they are after from their workout sessions, but consuming the right nutrients from the best sources is a huge part of the equation.
What are the Best Protein Foods and Why?
As far as a high quality protein, fish is pretty hard to beat. There are a wide variety of fish to choose from, many of which have a very high protein content and very low saturated fat. Fish are also high in the Omega three fatty acids that help to promote good heart health. Tuna, which is high in protein as well as iron and calcium, is very versatile and can easily be added to regular and pasta salads, is excellent in a sandwich, can be prepared in a casserole or serves as an excellent centerpiece to a meal in a filet.
Eggs are also high in protein, and if possible, are even more versatile than tuna. Eggs are one of the easiest forms of high quality protein to prepare: they can be boiled, scrambled, served over easy or in an omelet. Whole eggs can be a bit high in fat, but if overall fat content in your diet is an issue, the yolks can easily be removed in most preparations eliminating much of the fat.
This super food is often overlooked in many athletes’ diets, but with high protein content, next to no fat, high fiber and host of other nutrients including potassium – kidney beans should be a staple in any athlete’s diet. Athletes who are concerned about consuming too much fat with other sources of protein should have kidney (as well as other varieties of) beans high on their list of necessary additions to their diet.
Although all types of fowl contain high amounts of protein, the white meat of the chicken should be a staple of someone trying to put on muscle. Chicken breast is often less expensive than good cuts of red meat and many types of fish but it contains a lot of protein and has a very low fat content. Chicken is also very versatile and can be easily worked into many simple recipes.
I know what you’re thinking – nuts are way too high in fat. Well some nuts are high in fat, but much of the fat that they contain is a “good” fat. Aside from being high in protein, many nuts have a host of other benefits like lowering cholesterol, keeping your heart healthy and potentially helping the fight against cancer.
Other options up for consideration:
Low fat diary products like skim milk, yogurt and low fat cottage cheese can all be excellent additions to your diet, provided that you aren’t lactose intolerant. If your body processes dairy well, then I strongly suggest you add the above mentioned items into your diet, but try to steer clear of whole milk, ice cream and high fat cheeses because the benefits of the protein and calcium contained can be outweighed by the extremely high fat content.
Red Meat is a staple of many body builders’ diets and can be an excellent source of protein an iron. The down side is that good quality cuts of red meat can be fairly expensive, and red meat as a whole contains a lot more fat than some of the other choices here that offer just as much protein and a good mix of other potential health benefits.
Getting enough protein in your diet is essential to your body’s recovery and its ability to build muscle, so make sure that you are consuming enough protein for your size and your workload, but try to do so in a fashion that doesn’t overload your diet with unnecessary fat. The lean sources of protein mentioned above will help you to truly reap the rewards of the long hours that you put in at the gym.