Protein is an essential building block that your body needs to make new tissue - like muscle. But there’s a problem with protein: it is often bound up in foods that also contain a lot of fat, particularly animal products.
Ideally, what you want is a food that is high in protein, high in other nutrients, but low in anything that might hamper your physique.
Do any such proteins exist? You bet they do!
Soybeans get a bad rap, thanks to overblown concerns about genetic modification. But even if GMOs were a significant issue, it probably wouldn't affect you anyway: almost all of the genetically-modified crops on the market go to feeding animals.
With that said, getting your hands on some soybeans - organic or otherwise - is a smart call. The protein in soybeans is more bioavailable than other beans, like cannellini or navy, helping build muscle faster. Plus, it comes packaged with bags of fiber - something no amount of meat will give you.
While most diet gurus will recommend that you center your diet around whole foods, protein supplements offer some distinct benefits. The main advantage is that they don’t come packaged with mountains of fat, which is a significant problem with some of the meats that you find in the superstore. On top of that, manufacturers often fortify it with the micronutrients that people who want to build muscle need - a double plus if you don’t eat as many veggies as you should.
Quinoa is a Latin American grain, first cultivated by the ancient inhabitants of modern-day Peru, thousands of years ago.
Quinoa, however, isn’t anything like the kinds of grains that we eat today: it’s a nutritional superstar and protein powerhouse.
What makes it so good? The main benefit of quinoa is it’s impressive amino acid profile. The humble seed, which looks a bit like couscous, contains just the right ratio of protein building blocks for the body’s cells, making it among the best plant sources of protein around. It's also extremely high in fiber, assisting overall health.
Scallops are a remarkably lean source of animal protein, just like poultry and shrimp. What’s more, they taste delicious and go with practically any veggies you have in your pantry. Each three-ounce serving of scallops delivers an impressive 20 grams of protein in less than 100 calories. What’s more, unlike many lean types of meat, it’s not dry, making it easy to eat every day.
Chickpeas - also sometimes called garbanzo beans - are a staple of both Indian and Moroccan cuisine. But if the evidence is to be believed, they should be a part of every bodybuilder’s diet too.
A cup of chickpeas contains twelve grams of protein and 50 grams of carbohydrate. The quality of the protein isn’t particularly high, but the carbs the bean contains are. Many of the carbohydrates in chickpeas are resistant starches, a special type of long-chain sugar that feeds the good bacteria in your colon and help to improve your overall health.
Which of these lean sources of protein will you include in your diet?