5 Underrated Protein Sources to Pack on Muscle Mass

Apr 09, 2020 01:31 PM EDT | By Staff Reporter

5 Underrated Protein Sources to Pack on Muscle Mass

(Photo : pixabay)

Do you like to listen to music when you're lifting or running on the treadmill? If so, you're in good company, and in the majority - over 70% of men use their earbuds to block out noise and supply them with a steady stream of motivating heart-pumping songs. The single most popular song for bros who lift? According to data released by streaming music service Spotify, it's Eminem's "Till I Collapse." Another popular artist to work out to is Kanye West, in particular, his hits "Power" and "Stronger."

Putting together a great playlist to keep you pounding the pavement, crushing those reps, or powering through the perfect chest workout isn't all that hard. Just use your favorite tracks, the ones that make you feel invincible, or subscribe to specially made playlists designed for athletes. Figuring out what kind of protein to eat - now that's a different matter altogether.

When it comes to fueling your workout, there are a couple of standard recommendations: eggs, chicken breast, lean beef, and the perennially popular protein shakes and bars. If you're growing tired of those options, keep reading to get the skinny on some surprising sources of protein!

1. Quinoa

Have you tried quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)? It's technically a seed, but it acts like a grain and can be enjoyed as a side dish with meat and veg, as the base of a Buddha bowl, or as a pilaf. It has a mildly nutty flavor.

Perhaps surprisingly, quinoa is a complete protein and a carbohydrate - a slow-acting carb, to be specific. That means it's perfect for improving strength and helping build lean muscle.

2. Cottage Cheese

If your idea of cottage cheese is something you'd find on a diner's "Diet Plate" circa 1968, it's time to give this protein-packed dairy product a second look. Cottage cheese contains casein protein, which is the slowest-digesting protein around. Eat a snack of cottage cheese with pineapple chunks or sliced peaches before bed, and you'll prevent catabolism while you're snoozing.

3. Wheat Germ

Another throwback food, wheat germ isn't as popular these days as it was a couple of decades ago - and that's too bad because it's a powerhouse of nutrition. Just two tablespoons of the nutty stuff, which you can add to a smoothie, stir into yogurt, or sprinkle over a salad, provide 9 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein, 2 grams dietary fiber, and 1.5 grams of unsaturated fat. It is cholesterol free, to boot!

4. Beans and Legumes

Let's face it: chicken breasts are fine, but they get a little boring if you're eating them day in and day out. Why not try some plant-based protein to switch things up a bit? Beans are remarkably versatile and can be incorporated into all kinds of cuisines.

The nutritional profile of beans, lentils, and other legumes varies, of course, but pinto beans and black beans - probably the two most common - boast 15 grams of protein per cup. This "musical fruit" also delivers fiber, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins. And compared to meat, they're inexpensive; by choosing a vegetarian protein, you can offset the relatively higher costs of protein shakes or supplements.

5. Seafood

Another surefire cure for the chicken-breast blues? Seafood, like shrimp and scallops. These tasty little treats from the ocean are almost pure protein, clocking in at 18 grams for shrimp and 20 grams for scallops. They are both zero-carb choices, and they offer ample amounts of the amino acid leucine, which is helpful for building muscle fiber.

Pick Your Perfect Protein!

While there's nothing wrong with the time-honored, muscle-building classics like lean beef, chicken, or eggs as a post-workout meal, it can be delicious to mix things up once in a while! What's your favorite way to get the protein you need? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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