If you are like me, then you find it hard to ingest enough protein daily to meet your daily macros. I am always looking for alternate means to get enough protein into my diet without spoiling my macros. A bodybuilder’s diet is more important that their workouts, so if you are truly serious about adding mass, then food is a source of fuel to get you through your workouts until you reach your goals. Of course, we never reach our goals because we can never be big enough of balanced enough so our goals are continuously changing, but that is for another conversation. As bodybuilders, we see food as macros and not a means of pleasure as the average person does.
One of the biggest problems with getting lean protein into your body is that many of these protein sources are difficult to prepare in the amounts that a bodybuilder needs. For carbs, we can cook an entire bag of brown rice in one pot and get that all done in one shot. With proteins, it is not that easy. Cooking a dozen pounds of boneless chicken breast takes a while and has to be done in stages (without the proper equipment to cook in bulk). Also, most of our proteins need refrigeration and are not very easily transportable.
Due to how hard it can be to prepare and store enough protein to get you through the week, it is always a good idea to supplement your protein intake with other high protein foods. Here is a list of high protein foods that you may not have thought about, some of which do not even need to be refrigerated.
I actually have been toying with making my own beef jerky for a few reasons. Many store bought beef jerky products are loaded with sodium and extra preservatives. Trying to find a good organic jerky is not always easy. Being able to control what goes into my jerky is a great feeling. There are also so many great ways to season your jerky without so much sodium. The downside of making your own jerky is that it is messy and slow to dry. You can dry the meats it in your oven or in a dehydrator, but both methods get pretty messy.
If you do not want to make your own jerky, read the labels carefully. While most beef jerky products are lean (because it is very hard to dry fatty cuts of meat), some have a much higher fat content. Most well known brands of beef jerky are loaded with preservatives, but check the label to see what is in your jerky.
Keep in mind that you can also get jerky in all kinds of meats. Some of my favorites are ostrich jerky and turkey jerky.
The great thing about jerky though is that it does not need to remain refrigerated nor reheated to enjoy making it a great snack to take on the road with you.
The obvious selection here, but one that we need to mention, are protein bars, which have the focused purpose of feeding bodybuilders. Protein bars can be a delicious way to hit your macros and are very available these days. Most convenience stores will carry a myriad of various protein bars to choose from.
As with the jerky suggestion above, not all protein bars are created equal. Some are loaded with fats and sodium. Some are loaded with carbs as well, but you want to make sure that these are good complex carbs whenever possible. As with jerky, protein bars can get pricey, but my biggest complaint is how hard it is to find protein bars that are not loaded with fats and carbs. For the most part though, I really do not worry about this too much. The fats make the bar more filling. I do not like the bars that use too much chocolate though. While some dark chocolates are not entirely bad for you, some protein bar makers’ bars are more cheat meals than anything else. Also, as a diabetic, I am always watching my sugar intake.
Protein Shakes / Protein Brownies
This category is really for any type of protein concoction that you can come up with. I like enjoying protein pancakes a day or two out of the week. It is a change of pace from my typical egg white and turkey bacon breakfast and you get a ton of energy from the wheat flour. I typicaly use wheat flour when I make protein pancakes, but mix it up with cocunut flour every once in a while. I never use bleached nor unbleached flour.
For a twist on your protein shakes, mix ice with a cup of milk instead of using all milk. I gives the shake a smoothy consistency and texture. At night, I do not even use milk for my nighttime shake. I mix casein protein powder with water and PB2.
Almonds / Peanuts
Most nuts are actually pretty good for you, but almonds and peanuts are a great way to get those healthy fats into your body as a tasty and filling snack. Almonds are much easier to find non-salted than peanuts are and you really want the non-salted variety, but peanuts are cheaper in price. For my tastes, almonds taste better, so I normally prefer almonds.
Keep in mind that, even though almonds and peanuts made this list, they are not complete protein like other foods previously mentioned.
Natural Peanut Butter
Everything tastes better with a little peanut butter, right? I love me some peanut butter, but it has to be natural peanut butter. The average peanut butter is loaded with sugar and preservatives. Natural peanut butter is all natural and all wholesome goodness. Reduced-fat peanut butter typically makes up for the loss of fat with additional sugars.
Tuna / Salmon
I love fish. I typically prepare two types of fish per week, with salmon always being one. I do not eat smoked salmon because of the extraordinary amount of sodium in smoked products, and cooked salmon needs to remain refrigerated. The solution here is canned tuna or salmon. I will admit that I lean towards the canned tuna over canned salmon simply because canned salmon is nowhere near as good as broiled or grilled salmon. On the other hand, canned tuna is not half bad.
I only eat canned fish products packed in water as the oil is far too heavy for me and I am not a fan of oily foods. Having some healthy oils daily are not a bad idea though. Even with tuna packed in water though, you still need to read the label. All tunas are not created equal. Some are more fatty than other and are loaded with more preservatives.
The downside to canned fish though is that it has an odor. Crack open a can of tuna in the middle of work or a lecture hall and watch as the stares come in. I really do not understand it. I walk by people all of the time eating fast food and no one thinks anything of it, but I eat a can of tuna or drink a protein shake and I get all kinds of strage looks (and lectures about how bad my supplements are for me).