Protein Power: 24 g per scoop, on average
Whey protein is one of the cleanest, fastest-digesting proteins on the market. It’s the pefect addition to any fat-loss or muscle-building diet. Whey protein is low-calorie, fast-digesting, and perfect to take immediately after a workout, first thing in the morning, or even alongside low-protein meals!
Need to Know: Whey protein is extremely anabolic, or good for building muscle, because it’s a particularly rich source of branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs
Bonus: Whey Protein!
Even if your cupboards are already stocked with high-protein foods, whey protein is a great addition to any muscle-building or fat-loss diet. It’s low-calorie, fast-digesting, rich in essential amino acids, and perfect immediately after a workout, first thing in the morning, or even added to low-protein meals!
Steak (top or bottom round)
Protein Power: 23 g per 3 oz. serving
These leaner cuts of steak provide a fantastic 1 g of protein for every 7 calories; rib eye, on the other hand, delivers roughly 1 g of protein for every 11 calories. Plus, round steak is considered one of the more economical cuts.
Need to Know: Leaner cuts of steak like round and loin will become drier than the Sahara with overcooking, so prepare them quickly over high heat to just medium-rare.
Ground Beef (95% lean)
Protein Power: 18 g per 3 oz. serving
Using 90 percent ground beef provides just the right amount of fat so your burgers and meatloaf won't taste like cardboard. Beyond a payload of protein, this red meat is also a good source of the almighty creatine.
Need to Know: If you've got some extra cash in your wallet, opt for grass-fed beef, which is more nutrient-dense than its factory-farm counterparts.
Pork Chops (boneless)
Protein Power: 26 g per 3 oz. serving
The bounty of muscle-sculpting protein in easy-to-prepare pork chops gives you more than enough of an excuse to pig out on them.
Need to Know: By helping to break down muscle tissue, soaking your chops in brine can bring more tender meat to the dinner table. Simply cover the pork chops in a brine made with 1/4 cup salt for each 4 cups of water (use enough liquid so that the meat is completely submerged). Cover and chill for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Chicken Breast (boneless and skinless)
Protein Power: 24 g per 3 oz. serving
This bodybuilding staple delivers more protein than other poultry cuts, which is why it should remain a constant presence in your shopping cart.
Need to Know: To keep more greenbacks in your wallet, get chummy with the meat guy at your supermarket, who can give you a heads-up when the poultry is likely to be marked down for quick sale.
As with chicken, this big bird can flood your muscles with a wallop of protein.
Need to Know: Like pork chops and chicken breast, turkey breast can benefit from a pre-cook brining. If you're concerned about antibiotic use in large-scale poultry farming, you can look for turkey breast labelled "antibiotic-free."
Protein Power: 25 g per 3 oz. serving
This meaty swimmer delivers a boatload of easily digested, premium-quality protein. You'll also benefit from the healthy amount of B vitamins and the potent antioxidant selenium in its flesh.
Need to Know: When possible, look for troll- or pole-caught tuna, which are the most sustainable options.
Among white flesh species, halibut reigns supreme when it comes to the protein you need to build muscle like a champ. Each 3-oz. serving also has a mere 2 g of fat, making halibut an even better catch of the day.
Need to Know: Pacific halibut is generally considered a more sustainable choice than Atlantic.
An increasing number of fishmongers are now offering up this seafood choice. So if your goal is to pack on granite-dense muscle you'd be a sucker—pun intended—not to reel it in for its protein windfall.
Need to Know: Frozen octopus actually has an advantage over fresh because the subzero process works to help tenderize the meat.
Not only does wild salmon like sockeye taste better than its farmed cousin, it also supplies about 25 percent more protein. In addition, you'll reap the benefits of its plethora of fat-fighting long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Need to Know: Look for salmon with the skin still intact, as it provides added flavor during cooking.
Protein Power: 21 g per 3 oz. serving
Commonly available at most fish markets, tilapia provides an approachable, mild-tasting fish choice that will give you laudable amounts of protein to keep your muscles well-fed.
Need to Know: Look for American-farmed tilapia, which is a safer choice than tilapia imported from Asia.
High-Protein Canned Foods
Ounce for ounce, these tiny swimmers are the surprising winners when it comes to canned protein . Because of their size, they also don't accumulate toxins the same way that bigger species do.
Need to Know: To reduce their saltiness, soak anchovies in water for 30 minutes; then drain and pat dry.
The lofty protein levels in this salt-cured beef is sure to, well, beef up your muscles. And no, it's not the same thing as Spam!
Need to Know: Try sauteing corned beef with chopped vegetables and serve over rice, or use it as a main protein in sandwiches.
Protein Power: 22 g per 3 oz. serving
Frugal shoppers rejoice: Less pricey canned light tuna actually provides a little more protein than more expensive canned white tuna.
Need to Know: To save yourself some calories sourced from lackluster oils, opt for water-packed tuna instead of the oil-packed gift of the sea.
Pop the lid on ground-up white chicken meat to instantly add a shot of high-quality protein to your sandwiches and salads.
Need to Know: Compare brands, looking for those that deliver lower amounts of sodium.
Not only are oft-overlooked canned sardines plush in protein, they also deliver plenty of omega-3 fats and vitamin D. Research suggests that higher intakes of vitamin D can bolster testosterone production.