Protein is one of the most abundant compounds found in the human body, and for good reason. It is significant to a plethora of functions and processes in the human body, and it is absolutely essential for staying healthy and alive. These include the repair of tissues, the release of enzymes and hormones for metabolic functions, and the management of antibodies that equip the body to fight against infections.
These large molecules contain smaller chemicals that are called amino acids, and the human body needs about 20 of these amino acids to generate enough protein for health. The body can produce half of these amino acids, but the other half needs to come from the food that we eat. The problem is, not all of us get the sufficient amount of protein that we need. In fact, protein malnutrition is common throughout most of the world.
The good, thing, though is that there are plenty of sources of protein that we can turn to so that we can bridge the gap between the amount of protein that we should be getting and the amount of protein that we can only get. Ten of the best of them are listed in the next section.
Top 10 Best Sources of Protein
The Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard Protein is among the most popular products of its kind in the whole world, and for plenty of good reasons. Offering 24 grams of pure protein per serving, this supplement is rich in glutamine, glutamic acid, valine, leucine, isoleucine, and branched chain amino acids or BCAAs. It also has low concentrations of lactose, fat, and carbohydrates, which makes it ideal for muscle building and recovery, as well as weight management. It has also received multiple distinctions, including those that came from premier organizations such as NSF International and the Public Health and Safety Company, and it is known to meet the standards of the Good Manufacturing Practices Program.
- Offers 24 grams of pure protein per serving, including 5 grams of BCAAs and 4 grams of glutamine and glutamic acid
- Multi-awarded and recognized as among the most quality products on the market
- Ideal for promoting muscle growth and building while also easing muscle recovery
- More expensive than similar products of its kind
For those who are serious about bodybuilding, this one from MuscleTech is ideal. It delivers even more pure protein per serving than the first product on our list, as it offers 30 grams of whey protein isolate and whey peptides. On top of these, it also contains 5 grams of glutamine, almost 7 grams of branched chain amino acids, and 3 grams of HPLC-tested creatine monohydrate. It has also been processed through cold-filtered, multi-phase filtration, which reduces lactose, fat, and impurities without the use of harsh acids and heat.
- Combines whey isolate with whey peptides
- Delivers 30 grams of pure protein per serving
- Gets digested easily
- Contains a high amount of sodium
- Also contains too much cholesterol
Created by the same company that owns Optimum Nutrition, the Isopure Zero Carb, as its name implies, offers zero carbohydrates. This is a big deal, as most protein supplements have about 1 to 5 grams of carbs per scoop, so if you want to maximize your weight loss goals, this product is for you. It also features the purest form of whey protein isolate. And many people say that it tastes great.
- Offers the purest form of protein whey isolate
- Rich in vitamins, nutrients, and minerals without gluten, lactose, and other impurities
- Known to stimulate muscle growth
- It’s expensive
- Some people think it has a high caloric count per serving
An un-denatured whey concentrate protein powder, this one from MyProtein is a rapidly-digesting source of protein that is considered to be beneficial for muscle growth and muscle recovery. It has a very straightforward ingredient panel, as it only contains whey protein concentrate, low levels of fat and cholesterol, and natural and artificial flavorings. It also has zero cholesterol and low sodium content.
- Manufactured by a trusted company
- Has zero cholesterol, as well as low levels of fat and calories
- Some people don’t think it has a pleasant taste
- Does not get absorbed very quickly, as it has no isolate
Another product manufactured by a trusted name, the Dymatize supplement contains 100% hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, which ensures fast absorption of amino acids. This means that you can look forward to fast muscle recovery after your workouts. It offers 25 grams of pure protein per serving, only 1 gram of carbohydrates, and only 0.5 grams of fats. It also mixes well and is perfect for those who are lactose-intolerant.
- An ideal protein powder for people who are lactose-intolerant
- Delivers 25 grams of protein per serving
- Gets absorbed fast
- Expensive, compared to similar products
Bodylogix’s natural grass-fed whey protein powder is particularly beneficial for women and is known for having a very tasty formula. It offers a non-GMO protein that is free of artificial flavors and sourced from grass-fed cows. It is also gluten-free, lactose-reduced, and contains ingredients and label claims that have been certified by the NSF.
- Contains all-natural ingredients
- Offers 24 grams of protein per serving
- Has a good amino acid profile
- Does not come with additional vitamins and minerals
- Some people may find it too sweet
The Syntha-6 from BSN is used by plenty of athletes for strength and endurance training, as it contains healthy fat and fibers. It is also a rich source of branched chain amino acids, essential amino acids, glutamine, MCTs, EFAs, and peptides. For a whey protein supplement, it also tastes great. And it mixes well.
- Rich in essential amino acids, BCAAs, magnesium, iron, and fiber
- Low in fat and carbohydrates
- Popular among athletes
- Some flavors are not available in certain sizes
- Some users have reported that it can cause nausea and a bad crash
This one from JYM Supplemental Science is a very transparent protein supplement that offers three kinds of protein. It delivers 24 grams of the compound per serving, and it boasts of not being spiked with amino acids to boost its protein content. Additionally, it is made only of high-quality whey protein concentrate and caseinates.
- Offers more than one type of high-quality protein
- Delivers 24 grams of protein per serving
- Does not contain soy or gluten
- Contains lactose, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium
- Users also report that it does not taste great
RSP Nutrition’s whey protein powder blend is derived from four premium protein sources that are formulated to deliver optimal protein synthesis, to facilitate muscle growth and muscle recovery. It has been processed with cold ultrafiltration, which means that its quality of protein is maximized to be as pure, soluble, and bioavailable as possible. It is also easy to mix and digest and can be used before or after workouts.
- Delivers 25 grams of protein per serving, as well as 5.4 grams of BCAAs
- Low in fat and carbohydrates
- Manufactured with quality ingredients
- Contains high cholesterol, as well as some unnecessary ingredients
- Also gets exposed to many allergens during manufacturing
Naked Nutrition’s pea protein isolate is best for vegetarians, vegans, and people who like their protein supplements very, very simple. This powder is made of only one ingredient, 100% yellow pea protein, which offers 27 grams of protein and 5.7 grams of branched chain amino acids per serving. It also does not have additives, such as artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. Finally, it is non-GMO, soy-free, and gluten-free.
- Offers 27 grams of protein per serving
- Non-GMO, soy-free, and gluten-free
- Some users have reported that it does not have a very pleasant taste
Who Needs The Best Source of Protein?
Everybody needs protein, but certain types of people particularly need it more so than others. Chief of these are people in middle age, as protein at this period of their life is integral to fighting the effects of muscle loss. Plant-based protein will be particularly important to those who are already dealing with high blood pressure, high sugar issues, and heart ailments.
Those who gain weight easily will also benefit from getting more protein. Protein helps you feel full longer, so there will be fewer cravings spaced out between lengthier periods of time. Additionally, those who are into bodybuilding need to top up on plenty of protein so that they can manage the wear and tear of their muscles. Finally, if you eat more carbohydrates more than protein, you may want to switch it up and get more of protein as it is healthier for you.
What Are The Benefits Of the Best Source of Protein?
Finding the best source of protein promises plenty of rewards, some of the most important of which are as follows:
Boosts brain function and learning. Protein boosts the production and regulation of neurotransmitters, enzymes, and hormones that are responsible for cognitive function. The brain also needs a consistent supply of amino acids to maintain focus and concentration, as well as retain energy levels. When the brain feels deprived of amino acids, issues with learning and coordination manifest.
Enhances mood. Protein isn’t limited to helping control neurotransmitters that are associated with learning, it also helps balance hormones such as dopamine and serotonin that regulate our moods, and particularly protect against anxiety. People who don’t get enough amino acids have shown symptoms of increased anxiety or depression, moodiness, and weakness.
Helps fill you up. If you’re prone to overeating, loading up on protein can help you maintain your feeling of fullness longer and thus act as an ideal weight management tool. In fact, studies have shown that controlled caloric intake alongside a moderately high protein diet can be effective towards weight loss. Protein is also known to boost thermogenesis, as well as prevent muscle loss.
Maintains strong bones. Studies have also found that protein is significant in healing broken bones as well as protecting against bone weakness, osteoporosis, and fractures. Other studies conducted among the elderly in the US also showed that people with a low protein intake (between 16 to 50 grams) experience the most significant bone losses. One main reason for this is that a low protein diet can hinder insulin-like growth factor production, which can directly and negatively affect calcium and phosphate metabolism for bone protection and formation.
Normalizes blood sugar levels. Insulin is required for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, but protein requires less insulin than carbohydrates. It has also been found that foods with protein slow down the absorption of sugar during a meal, which can mitigate spikes in blood glucose, prevent type 2 diabetes, and regulate your appetite.
Promotes muscle mass growth. Protein is critical to building and maintaining muscle mass, as well as ligaments, tendons, and other tissues in the body. As thus, it is helpful both for growing muscles and maintaining lean muscles. It is especially necessary after exercise, as it is beneficial in helping repair damaged tissues and restoring them back to normal. Eating protein before exercise is also helpful, as it is associated with promoting muscle synthesis, muscle recovery, and muscle ache treatment.
Slows down aging. Those who wish to delay signs of aging will also do well to consume their protein adequately. Protein helps maintain glutathione, which is also called the “master antioxidant” and is considered to be significant in detoxing and reducing carcinogens. A lack of glutathione has been linked to the development of degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and cancer. Additionally, getting a high amount of amino acids can treat sarcopenia or muscle loss that is brought on by aging.
Supports heart health. Finally, protein is thought to be a natural remedy for high blood pressure, which can help protect your heart. Getting more foods that are rich in protein as opposed to carbohydrates also leads to lower LDL or bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
What Is the Best Source of Protein?
There are many sources of protein that you can choose from, and some of the best come from:
Grass-fed beef. Grass-fed beef can satisfy about 50 percent of the recommended daily value for protein. It is also rich in vitamins A and E, as well as antioxidants.
Organic chicken. It is said that one piece of organic chicken breast can supply more than 30 percent of the recommended daily protein value, which makes it another good high-protein food option. It is also rich in B-vitamins, such as niacin and vitamin B6.
Wild salmon. One of the healthiest foods you will ever find, wild-caught salmon is not only high in protein, it is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12, B3, B6, B5, and D, as well as selenium and potassium.
Eggs. Eggs are a wonderful source of protein because they have a complete amino acid profile, which means that they contain all nine essential amino acids that you should be getting from your food. In addition, eggs are rich in biotin; make sure to get organic and free-range eggs, though.
On top of these, there are plant-based sources of protein, for vegetarians and vegans. These include lentils, beans, tempeh, nuts, avocado, peas, mushrooms, oats, seeds, broccoli, leafy greens, and brussels sprouts. If you’re okay with cultured dairy products, you can also try yogurt or kefir. Either of these offers a generous serving of proteins, as well as fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and good probiotics that support digestion and the absorption of nutrients.
Finally, there are alternative sources of protein, such as protein powders and protein bars. Those made from bone broth are especially beneficial, as they contain amino acids, and a handful of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and selenium.
Important Factors To Keep In Mind
Safety Issues To Be Aware Of When Taking Best Source of Protein
While protein does a lot of good for the human body, consuming too much of it can also do a number on your health. One of the adverse effects that can manifest when you go above your recommended daily amount of protein is weight gain. A 2016 study found that diets that used protein as a replacement for carbohydrates led to weight gain. This is because protein is stored in the body as fat while the extra amino acids are excreted. Too much buildup of this fat, over time, can translate to a few additions on the weighing scale.
High-protein diets can also cause constipation, as exhibited by the results of a 2003 study. Diets like these are typically low in fiber, especially if they have carbs restrictions. Bad breath is another effect that can happen from eating too much protein. A possible reason for this is that protein causes the body to get into ketosis, a metabolic state that produces chemicals that yield unpleasant fruity smells.
Additionally, a 2002 study on athletes found that when protein consumption increases, hydration levels decrease. Dehydration can occur if you’re not careful, so it’s important to make sure that you drink plenty of water as you boost your protein intake. Diarrhea is also a possibility, particularly if you use sources of protein that are rich in dairy and lack of fiber.
There can be serious risks from overconsumption of protein, too. One of these is kidney damage. According to a study conducted in 2002, following a high-protein diet for a prolonged period of time can generate a more concentrated urine, as well as an abnormal BUN, which is a measure of kidney function. People with existing kidney problems should also be careful about their protein consumption, as protein contains plenty of excess nitrogen; the kidneys have to work double-time to excrete the additional nitrogen.
Moreover, too much meat-based protein has been associated with an increased risk of cancer; higher meat consumptions are linked to increased risks in colon, prostate, and breast cancers. Heart disease is also a dangerous potential, if you source your proteins from red meats and full-fat dairy products, as these substances are rich in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Protein supplements also come with their own risks. Foremost of these are potential calcium loss. A 2013 study published in the International Scholarly Research Notices found that every incremental increase in protein translated to a considerable loss of calcium through urine.
Protein supplements may also interfere with kidney function, as excess protein can increase the acid load on the kidneys and increase the risk of kidney stone formation. In addition, some products on the market have tested positive for heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury, arsenic, and lead.
Types Of the Best Sources of Protein
There are two main types of protein that you can get from natural sources. The first is high-quality protein, and it comes from fish, milk, eggs, and meat. It features all the essential amino acids that you need to get, and it is highly important to the body as it facilitates growth and repair.
The other classification is low-quality protein, and it is derived from plant-based sources such as peas and beans. Some, like soy, have all the good amino acids but most of these sources lack certain nutrients.
For alternative sources of protein, you can choose from supplemental singles or combinations. They come in different forms, such as whey protein, casein protein, soy protein, and egg protein. Of these, the most popular is whey protein, as it is considered to be the most beneficial for more people.
How To Manage the Use of the Best Source of Protein
When choosing sources of protein, a good rule of thumb to follow is to opt for a healthy mix of animal-based and plant-based proteins. In this way, you don’t miss out on the advantages of each, but you also don’t consume too much of each to risk certain adverse effects.
It is also important to remember that the recommended daily amount of protein that you need should be about 0.8 grams per kilogram of your body weight. If you’re training or exercising, you may need more, but do not exceed more than 2 grams per kilogram of your body weight to stay safe.
Protein is a very important nutrient that the human body needs, in order to function properly. Luckily, it is available from a wide range of sources, including animal-based and plant-based food sources, as well as protein supplements such as powders.
However, the range of options should not fool us into thinking that all these sources are equal when it comes to the quality of protein that they can deliver. When it comes down to it, food sources still have the advantage over protein supplements; similarly, some types of food sources deliver higher quality protein than others. When choosing, it is important to understand your specific needs and strike a balance between animal-based protein sources and plant-based protein sources.
It is also important to remember that consuming high amounts of protein should be done with utmost safety. Ask your doctor for guidance, especially if you have an existing medical condition, or taking certain medications.