What’s the best protein food? This is a tough question. Anytime someone says “best,” you need some sort of metric to compare the foods on.
The simplest way to do that is to compare how much protein is in the food per gram of total weight.
So the best protein foods could be simplified to this:
- Protein powder
- Non-oily fish (especially dried to remove the water content)
- Game meat (with the fat trimmed off)
- Beef & veal (with the fat trimmed off)
- Oily fish
- Pork products like pork chops, bacon, ham, etc.
- Low-fat milk products like Parmesan cheese cottage cheese
- Roasted soybeans
Meanwhile, in real life…
The more nuanced answer would be to say that each type of high-protein food has its own nutrients that other types of protein don’t have. So it’s best to eat a wide variety of protein sources.
For example, non-oily fish like cod has way more protein than oily fish like salmon. Non-oily fish also contains fewer toxins like mercury that get stored in the fat of the fish. Seems like non-oily fish is the best type of protein then, right?
But on the other hand, oily fish is the one that contains all the extremely healthy omega-3 fatty acids (specifically DHA/EPA) that can help your heart health, allows your body to deal with inflammation better, and can help you stay leaner (this type of fat is more easily mobilized and burnt off in your body).
Then you’ve got red meat like beef that has high levels of carnitine in them, which plays a crucial role in generating energy, acting like a motor that allows long-chain amino acids to be burnt for fuel. (National Institutes of Health)
The Outlive take on the best protein food:
There’s no single best type of protein food. So try and eat a wide variety of unprocessed high-protein foods.
For example, if you can handle and afford fish, you could try eating wild oily fish once a week and wild non-oily fish another time (even if you don’t love it that much). Then you could have some chicken, pork, and beef other times during the week.
Once you’re eating a pretty good variety of protein, including fish, then you can try letting your appetite direct you to get the other nutrients you need for optimum health, power, and strength.
If you’re curious, you can see the check out a full-guide on the top high-protein foods here.