Protein is an essential macronutrient that is made up of amino acids, the compounds that help build muscle, make hormones, and even break down food. There are nine “essential” amino acids that your body doesn’t produce and that you must consume from food to get a proper intake.
The base amount of protein your body needs depends on your weight, as the recommended dietary allowance is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. If you’re trying to gain muscle, consuming between 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight of protein daily is ideal.
With the amount of protein you need to eat daily, it’s important to select options that provide not only enough of the macronutrient, but that can provide other benefits to your body. We spoke with two members of our Medical Expert Board, Sydney Greene, MS, RD, and Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and The Portion Teller Plan, to discuss the best proteins that you should be eating every day. Then, make sure to check out the Surprising Effects of Eating Too Much Protein, Say Dietitians.
Both the egg yolk and the egg whites contain a great deal of protein. If you’re looking for lean proteins, you can stick to just the egg whites.
“Fish is a very good source of protein, which helps you feel full as well as regulate growth,” says Young. “Yet, it is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids which can prevent blood clots and fight inflammation.”
Young suggests including eating salmon in your realm of fatty fish. You can also get your intake best proteins from other oily fish like sardines and tuna.
Wild seafood includes fish caught in their natural habitats, such as in rivers, lakes, or oceans. Greene advises that seafood in general is a food category that is rich in brain nourishing nutrients such as iron, b vitamins, and zinc.
“In addition to a variety of essential vitamins and minerals, fish and shellfish are excellent sources of protein and many contain omega-3 fatty acids.”
Each part of the chicken provides different amounts of protein. Young suggests that the chicken breast is where you get the best overall benefit.
“Chicken breast is a lean source of protein and is easy to prepare,” says Young. “You can enjoy it grilled over greens or paired with a whole grain like brown rice and vegetable. It’s also very filling and will keep you satisfied for hours.”