When you think of protein, chicken, beef, and salmon are probably the first foods that cross your mind. If so, you’re not alone. These are the most common sources of protein that serious gym-goers turn to time and time again.
But, these aren’t the only good sources of protein out there. In fact, there some even better options you might be missing out on. Unless you’re willing to go outside of your comfort zone and experiment with them, you could be missing out on solid nutrients and more variety in your meals.
Here are three less common protein sources to help beef up your muscle-building diet.
Bison, otherwise known as buffalo, is a tasty red meat that deserves a spot on your plate. Bison tends to have a slightly sweeter taste than beef and offers an even better nutritional profile.
Because all buffalo are found in the wild, they are grass fed rather than grain fed, yielding a greater ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. This is important as most diets today are made up largely of omega-6s, which are more rigid fatty acids that tend to increase inflammation.
Buffalo meat is also a great source of iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, all of which are very important for active individuals. If you avoid red meat for fear that it’s too high in fat, chances are you’ll be deficient in this vitamin.
When compared directly to beef, grass-fed bison is a lean meat. In fact, 100 grams of cooked meat will provide 143 calories and 2.4 grams of dietary fat. On the other hand, the same serving size of lean beef typically contains 7 grams of fat.
Another protein source you may be overlooking in your meal plan is ostrich. This farmed fowl can often be found in jerky format, which makes for a quick and easy snack to take on the go.
Ostrich meat is low in total cholesterol, making it an excellent pick for better heart health. It’s also low in fat, coming in as lean as chicken breast, and provides a healthy dose of iron as well. Iron is another vital mineral you don’t want to be lacking. Iron transports oxygen to muscle cells, which is necessary to fend off fatigue during exercise. However, iron-deficiency is a highly common problem, often due to avoiding red meat for a prolonged length of time.
Per 100 gram serving of cooked top loin ostrich you’ll take in around 155 calories, 3.9 grams of dietary fat with just 1.3 of those grams coming from saturated fat, along with 28 grams of high-quality protein.
The cholesterol count is just 93mg and you’ll also get a hefty boost of vitamin B12 as well. Like most protein sources, ostrich is entirely carb free, making it a perfect option for those who are on a low-carb diet.
Finally, the last protein source that you’ll want to include in your muscle-building diet is venison. While it is a little higher in fat compared to bison, it’s still a great source of wild game meat.
Per 100 grams of cooked tenderloin venison, you’ll take in 149 calories, 2.3 grams of fat with about half of those being saturated, and 30 grams of protein. It also supplies you with 2.92mg of iron, making it another excellent source to get more of this nutrient. Venison also has a good monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fat ratio at 0.5 to 0.1 grams.
One thing you’ll want to keep in mind with venison and bison is that they may cook slightly drier than your fattier cut of steak. Therefore, you may want to add more healthy olive or coconut oil when cooking to help retain as much moisture as possible. Or, try different cooking methods such as searing the meat first and then baking it to help lock in the moisture.
The next time you’re planning your weekly meals, don’t overlook these three sources of protein. While they’re harder to come by and may require a visit to a butcher shop rather than your local grocery store, the nutritional and muscle-building benefits makes it well worth the effort to find them.