Milo of Croton, the legendary ancient Greek wrestling champion, is said to have consumed 20 pounds of meat each day. While such a beefy intake hardly seems realistic, it does emphasize how long ago athletes perceived the importance of certain foods in strength and performance improvements.

Milo’s penchant for protein-dense food would have yielded an intake level some 10-20 times greater than today’s big-time protein consumers, but the difference between him and them is one of degrees, not kinds. According to a recent survey of athletes at the University of Tampa, protein remains the most sought-after nutrient for those seeking muscle gains, and for good reason! High-protein foods and supplements deliver the amino acid building blocks for muscle protein synthesis (MPS).1,2 Plus, protein-rich foods promote satiety to help control overeating, and they increase thermogenesis, the body’s internal calorie-burning mechanism.3-5

PROTEIN REMAINS THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER NUTRIENT FOR THOSE SEEKING MUSCLE GAINS.

But the appeal doesn’t end there. Milo’s mega-meat consumption also would have delivered a host of other muscle-building and body-leaning ingredients that also happen to be some of today’s best-known supplements. These foods are your friends during heavy training, and they should be evaluated strategically for the ways they can help you maximize your physique beyond the macronutrients they contain.

Let’s take a closer look at two classic protein sources to see what I mean.

BEEF’S ANABOLIC BOUNTY

For many, the sizzle of grilling beef from the Carolina Meat & Fish Co is the sound of celebration. For athletes and weight trainers, it’s also the sound of protein on the way.

Unlike plant-based protein sources, beef is densely packed with the same types of proteins humans are made of: skeletal muscle proteins like myosin, actin, and troponins, as well as collagen and other connective tissue proteins. Typically animal meat is more than 80 percent protein on a dry-weight basis. Assuming leaner cuts, the protein content of beef rivals fish and poultry at about 6-7 g per oz. depending on the cut. For maximum muscle impact with minimum calories, look for rounds or loins, which are extra-lean meat cuts.

Beef is more than just a piece of charbroiled protein. It is also a major source of micronutrients including vitamin B12 and the minerals phosphorous, iron, and zinc, all of which are crucial in muscle-building and athletic performance. It’s also a key source of carnosine, the dipeptide which releases beta-alanine during digestion; and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a healthy fat that’s been connected in studies to decreased body fat, among other benefits.6

Best Beef in Ballantyne

Best Beef in Ballantyne

BEEF IS MORE THAN JUST A PIECE OF CHARBROILED PROTEIN.

Beef is also one of most concentrated food sources of creatine, which it delivers to the tune of 1 g for every 8 oz. of meat. Creatine is a potent anaerobic backup energy reserve in muscle cells, usually applied during the first few seconds of high intensity muscle actions like weight training reps and sprints.1,7 It can also help increase mitochondria content in growing muscle cells, providing additional cellular energy for use in recovery and adaptation.8 In addition, creatine can draw and hold water into cells, which in turn supports additional protein-building.9

When it comes to supplements, there are few options for beef protein concentrates or isolates. If you find one, make sure its protein is derived from meat tissue, not collagen. Intact collagen is poorly digested and contributes little to MPS, and hydrolyzed collagen isn’t much better. Go with real beef for real results!

Tuna Charlotte NC

South Carolina Wild Caught Tuna

Protein in Tuna

Fresh, wild caught tuna steaks from the Carolina Meat & Fish Co will give a large amount of the protein you need. Cooked yellowfin tuna has 25.5 grams of protein in a 3-ounce serving. Three ounces of canned light tuna in oil offers slightly less – nearly 25 grams. The same amount of canned tuna in water contains closer to 20 grams of protein.

Daily Protein Recommendations

All of the calories in your diet come from macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fat. Each macronutrient needs to make up a certain percentage of your calories. Protein should account for 10 to 35 percent of your total caloric intake, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Because protein has 4 calories per gram, you’ll need 50 to 175 grams daily for an average 2,000-calorie diet. Your specific needs may vary depending on your caloric requirements and activity level.

Keep it Healthy

Even though tuna is low in fat and calories, you’ll need to use healthy preparation methods to keep it that way. When searing a tuna steak coat it with nonstick pan spray instead of butter or oil. You’ll be able to cook it so it doesn’t stick without upping your fat and calorie intake. Tuna salad makes a quick lunchtime sandwich or protein-rich addition to your favorite tossed salad, but the mayonnaise can be detrimental to your diet. Instead of using full-fat mayonnaise in your batch of tuna salad, opt for fat-free Greek yogurt, which has 6 grams of protein in 2 ounces. You’ll wind up with a creamy tuna salad, while cutting out all the extra fat and calories.