As I have made abundantly clear by now, I love protein. It is my favorite macronutrient followed by fat, with carbohydrates bringing up the rear. This is probably because we have things like essential amino acids, and essentials fats which are required in order to digest and absorb different foods. We don’t have essential carbohydrates, that is why they are in last place. I think carbohydrates are great if you want to gain weight, which is why high carb diets, along with high protein and fat, are useful for hard gainers. But I digress, back to protein sources. There are many different sources of protein available on the market, and based on things like protein to fat ratio, availability, price, taste and versatility in the kitchen, nothing beats the king of meats: Grass fed, wild and pastured red meats. Keep in mind that this only remains the king as long as it is wild game or pastured meats. If you think that buying the managers special out of the corner of the refrigerated section of your local grocer will still count as being a good source of quality protein, you sir, are mistaken.
Try to avoid any meat that is sold as a bargain, especially when the expiration date is a day or two away. This is the meat equivalent of a Mcdonald’s hamburger meat and has probably been treated with yummy chemicals like ammonia to help it keep its color longer. My favorite kind of red meat is from animals like elk, deer, moose, and wild boar. Most of the time these are extremely hard to come by, so in the mean time, I will get my meat from Bill The Butcher and hopefully hunt my own deer or elk this fall.
Protein powders. Protein powders are handy if you are in a rush after a workout and you don’t have time to eat some real food. I always try to stick to eating real food after a workout. Protein powders don’t have a very high satiety level. That being said, I do find myself in the occasional rush where I need some protein powder. There are three major types of protein powders: Whey, soy, and hemp. Whey– The most widely available protein powder, whey protein powder is derived from cow’s milk and is a by product of the cheese-making process. Whey contains higher protein content per serving than soy and hemp, about 50% protein per serving. If you combine both casein and whey protein, this can be useful after a workout as the whey will be absorbed quickly. While the casein will be digested and absorbed more slowly, it can help with metabolism and satiety issues. Soy- Soy protein is derived from soybeans and it is only of the only types of plant-based foods that are a complete protein source–meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids the human body needs but can’t produce. Soy is a good choice for someone who is either vegan or vegetarian. Soy protein has a lower biological value than whey, which means how efficiently your body can use a protein source. Soy has a rating of 76, whey has a score of 100. There have also been some studies that indicate the estrogen in soybeans can have an undesirable effects on the breasts of males. Not all of the studies have been conclusive though. Hemp- Hemp protein, like soy protein is one of few plant-based foods that is a complete protein source. Hemp is another good protein choice for vegans or vegetarians. It is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, beneficial for its anti-inflammation properties. Hemp protein is relatively high in cost compared to other protein powders, and tends to taste just like a plant. It also has a biological value of 70-85%. On to the next topic! Fish. According to Mr. Man-bear-pig Ron Swanson, “fish is basically a vegetable”.
Fish is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. My favorites are tuna, wild salmon, and freshwater trout. There are a few reasons why I don’t eat fish very often, though. One of them is the fact that farm-raised fish sucks, They are fed crappy feed, they escape from their cages and ruin everything for the wild fish, and just like grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef, their EPA levels drop considerably. Another reason I don’t eat fish often is because the world’s oceans are basically drained of fish, which sucks for numerous reasons. So unless you eat fish that you raise yourself, you are on a double edged sword.
Chicken. Contrary to popular belief, chicken can have a ton of flavor on its own, provided it is a pastured chicken that eats things it was designed to eat, like bugs. The life of a caged chicken basically sucks and looks something like this:
Their life consists of no sunlight, having their beaks cut off, not being able to walk around and living in their own filth. This doesn’t translate to a very good quality protein source for you. All of the stress of that chickens life is just pumping through its blood and putting that sickness in its muscles. The meat is pale and sloppy looking. Compare that to a pastured chicken and you tell me which you would rather have as a protein source.
Again, this blog post is just outlining the ideal protein sources, buying grass fed, wild caught, and pastured meats can be very expensive so you will need to pick and choose your sources, like I do. On a final note, my wife and I constructed an epic sacrifice to the burrito gods. The total ingredients are 1 pound of ground ostrich, 1/2 cup of sour cream, 2 avocados, salsa, 12 ounces refried beans, 2 tomatoes, 1/2 cup cheese, 1/2 cup olives, 1/2 cup rice, 3 ounces chicken. All wrapped in 6 tortilla shells. it was glorious, and it was eaten in 30 minutes. I think I have the greatest metabolism ever.