When trying to build lean muscle, many people focus all of their efforts on their workout. Though fitness will of course play into the ability to add lean chimuscle to the body, diet plays equally as important of a role. To get the lean muscle that you want, you need to eat a lot of protein—but not all protein is created equally!
The 12 foods represented on this list are the very best options. They are low in carbs and high in protein, which makes them some of the best out there. Some you may already be eating and others are worth trying out for a tasty new addition to your eating regimen. Rather than eating the same tired protein every day, try to enjoy what you eat by mixing it up with these foods.
1. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast is an excellent choice as it’s not only high in protein, but it’s low in fat and calories. It’s lean because it’s white meat, and therefore a good choice. A typical serving size to aim for is a 3 ounce chicken breast, or about the size of your fist. Try grilling or broiling chicken and using herbs and seasoning to add flavor, and then add to salad, soup, or feature as the main entrée. Excellent for building lean muscle, and a tasty main staple to your diet!
Serving size 100 grams, 31 grams of protein, 165calories.
2. Ground Turkey
Ground turkey is such a versatile and healthy way to enjoy protein. It’s high in protein, low in calories, and can be cooked up and used in just about anything. A typical serving is 3 ounces cooked and you can learn to easily substitute it for ground beef. Add some herbs and you can use it in spaghetti sauce, chili, or make into meatballs or burgers. You will love the flavor and versatility and the fact that it makes for a much leaner protein source than higher calorie alternatives out there.
Serving size 100 grams, 29.9 grams of protein, 157 calories.
3. Pork Tenderloin
Many don’t consider how tasty and protein packed pork can be in the quest to build lean muscle. One of the best types to select is pork tenderloin, and a typical serving size is a 3 ounce piece. It can be easily grilled or broiled for a quick, easy, and healthy cooking method. You can add simple marinades or seasoning to bring out the flavor. It’s leaner than you think and packed with protein, it may become a fixture in your eating regimen.
Serving size 3 oz, 22.2 grams of protein, 122 calories.
4. Lean Ground Beef
Yes you can and should enjoy ground beef, but just be sure that you opt for lean cuts. A 90/10 mix incorporates enough fat to give it flavor without the unhealthy calories that you don’t need. Typically you want to aim for a 3 ounce portion which you can enjoy in a variety of different forms. Though you want to be sure not to add too much filler that can contribute to fat and calories, this is a great protein source to turn to once or twice a week.
Serving size 3 oz, 22.6 grams of protein, 182 calories.
5. Steak (Lean cut and grass-fed)
Go for a lean cut of steak for a high protein meat. Also make sure your steak is grass-fed to increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids. Pair your steak with a side of steamed vegetables and brown rice for a well-balanced meal.
Serving size 100 grams, 23.1 grams of protein, 117 calories.
Most people don’t tend to think of lamb in terms of a good protein source, but it really is. Obviously you want to go for leaner cuts and that means boneless in this instance. Trimming away all visible fat always helps, and then you can enjoy a very significant protein source. Though it does contain a bit more calories, you can mix it with healthy fillers like root vegetables and sauces made from scratch to ensure it’s a good solid choice. Don’t make this your primary protein source, but do enjoy it within your eating plan for some enjoyment.
Serving size 3oz, 21 grams of protein, 241 calories.
It may be an acquired taste, but veal can prove to be an excellent protein source. You want to opt for the leaner cuts and in this case that is veal shank, loin, or even chop. The typical serving size for a veal shank is 3 ounces and do keep in mind that the bone is a consideration as well. You get a lower calorie but protein sound option that you can include in your rotation. Even if you have never been a big fan of veal in the past, it’s well worth trying if your focus is on building lean muscle through effective protein blending.
Serving size 3oz, 20.7 grams of protein, 146 calories.
Ham can be a good protein source, but you do need to be mindful of serving size. If you are diligent about the slice size then you can enjoy a significant protein allotment without a lot of calories. The thing to keep in mind with ham is that the sodium can be high and so whenever possible, try to get a lower sodium type. Chopped up and tossed with vegetables, this can be a satisfying protein and a nice change of pace from the usual sources you consume. Try ham once in awhile and just keep an eye on your portion size for best results.
Serving size 100 grams, 16.6 grams of protein, 163 calories.
Though this hasn’t been a recognizable or mainstream source of protein, it has recently been getting a lot of attention. You can enjoy some significant protein with this cut of meat while keeping the calories very low. You will find bison featured on many forward thinking restaurant menus with good reason. If you prepare in a healthy way such as ground with vegetables or even a lean cut, then you can really enjoy your protein in a whole new way. You can expect this to replace fattier alternatives as it becomes such a recognized form of protein.
Serving size 3 oz, 21.6 grams of protein, 152 calories.
Salmon is considered one of the super foods and that has much to do with its good fat concentration or Omega-3 fatty acids. You get a lot of nutrients from this particular fish and it is also packed with protein. Lower in calories, this is a great choice and should be a regular fixture on your eating plan. You can broil this or even grill it quite simply and with just lemon and dill you have a tasty, healthy, and protein filled meal that is substantial and sure to become a recurring menu item for you.
Serving size 3 oz, 18.8 grams of protein, 175 calories.
Tuna is something that you probably grew up with, but out of a can. While there’s nothing wrong with that form of tuna, fresh tuna either broiled or baked is a nice fresh alternative. It’s packed with protein and also has a healthy dose of Omega-3 fatty acids which means good fat as well. So though you can opt for canned tuna on the run, fresh tuna is a tasty and healthy option to feature in your eating plan. You will love the taste and just how good it is for you.
Serving size 3 oz, 21.7 grams of protein, 98.6 calories.
This is one of the mildest fish and therefore a great introductory one if you are testing this form of protein. Tilapia is a flaky fish that is mild and takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with. You will enjoy it broiled, grilled, or baked, and it’s an excellent protein source. This is one of the lowest calorie fish or protein options out there and so it tends to be a favored choice on many healthy eating plans. Experiment with a variety of vegetables and all you need is a touch of lemon juice and some herbs for a great meal.
Serving size 100 grams, 26.1 grams of protein, 128 calories.