Protein is by far the most vital nutrient we need to consume for muscle growth, hunger management, and overall health. And the best protein for lean muscle is something every serious fitness person should know to optimize their fitness plan.
What’s more, getting enough protein helps us recover faster, build more muscle, and even burn extra calories thanks to its high thermic effect.
✦ Some links on this page are affiliate links. This means that if you click one of these links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.
Top 5 Best Proteins for Building Lean Muscle
Egg Whites for Lean Muscle
Among all protein sources, eggs have the highest biological value (meaning the body utilizes almost all of the nutrients) – between 97 and 100. Egg whites themselves are said to have a biological value of about 88.
Eggs are also considered to be among the best sources of protein for lean muscle building thanks to their rich and unique amino acid profile.
What’s more, egg whites are almost entirely made of protein. For reference, a cup of egg whites offers 26 grams of high-quality protein and only 0.4 grams of fats and 1.8 grams of carbs.
It’s simply one of the best muscle building foods you can eat.
Grilled Chicken Breast for Building Lean Muscle
Grilled chicken breast is considered by many to be the best protein for lean muscle. For one, chicken breast has a biological value of 79, which isn’t far behind that of egg whites.
Second, chicken breast offers a lot of protein. A small serving of 100 grams contains a whopping 30-31 grams of pure protein for the body.
Plus, chicken is low fat, and that same 100-gram serving only has about 165 calories and 3.5 grams of fats. So it’s a great staple food to build and protect lean muscle, while at the same time cutting and getting super lean.
Add to the fact that you can prepare chicken breast in dozens of ways, you’ve got yourself one of the best protein foods for lean muscle gain.
Post-Workout Protein Shake
Who says that the best protein for lean muscle comes from your typical everyday foods? Indeed, protein powders could prove to be the best and most convenient source of protein out there. They allow us to make quick and easy protein shakes on the go, after a workout, or in the morning when we don’t feel like preparing (or purchasing) a meal.
Drinking a protein powder drink after your workout is not only great for building lean muscle, they are also delicious and a great post-workout reward! And although science has mainly debunked the importance of the anabolic window, it is still very useful to consume a great post-work protein shake. (1)
For example, whey protein has a biological value identical to that of eggs, hovering around 100. Whey is also an excellent source of high-quality protein, as it contains all nine essential amino acids in appropriate amounts. But check Tri-Protein below. Yeap, ever better than whey.
Plus, when compared to most foods, protein powders offer some of the cheapest protein out there. For reference, the average protein powder on the market costs less than $1 per serving. Meaning, you are getting a minimum of 20-25 grams of protein for as little as 70 cents! That’s a bargain!
Tri-Protein – 3X More Effective Than Wheys
A great protein shake that is also delicious, is the Crazy Nutrition 100% Tri-Protein. Mix 1 scoop with either skim milk, or even Pro Muscle Milk for a double dose, and you have a potent 50+ grams of protein that is supremely tasty.
And the Blender Bottle works perfectly to mix. So put the powder in the bottle when you leave your house, and then mix skim milk or muscle milk as soon as your workout is complete (ice it in your if needed).
The key to this bottle is the rounded bottom. I used flat bottoms for years and 25% of the powder would be trapped in the bottom edge. With a rounded bottom, it almost always fully mixes.
Crazy Nutrition 100% Tri-Protein
- 3X More Effective Than Standard Wheys
- 6 Proteins for Max Protein Synthesis
- Made With Digestive Enzymes
- Appetite Suppressant for Long Periods
- Delicious Flavors
- All Natural Ingredients
- 60-day Money Back Guarantee
Steak is a bodybuilding staple. If you want to maximize muscle growth, you can’t go wrong with foods like a sirloin-tip side steak or a nice skirt steak. You don’t want certain cuts though, like Ribeye or T-bone steaks, as they are loaded with fat.
Not only do lean steaks, like Sirloin steak, offer the same biological value as chicken – about 80 – they also offer plenty of high-quality protein for each serving. For reference, 100 grams of lean beef steak (with five percent fat content) boasts an impressive 21 grams of protein and only 140 calories.
Plus, steak tastes great and cooking it takes little time, effort, and preparation. They will always be part of a lean muscle building diet.
Protein Bars to Fuel Lean Muscle
Protein bars are great for when you are on the go, and need a quick snack that also is a solid source of protein. They are a perfect mid-afternoon snack that will kill those hunger pangs, and also provide a good dose of protein.
Here are some good selections that are in the 200 calorie range, which is perfect for calorie control.
- Pure Protein
- Quest Bars
The key on all of the these protein bars is watching the sugar content! You don’t want more than 10 grams of sugar or it will do more harm than good.
Our personal favorite protein bar at A Lean Life are the MET-Rx Super Cookie Crunch bars.
These are simply killer delish, and loaded with 32 grams of protein. Here are the micro numbers on this powerhouse protein bar:
- 32 grams of Protein
- 410 calories
- 18 Key Vitamins & Minerals
- Significant Source of Zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin C
- Exclusive METAMYOSYN Protein Blend
- Fast & Slow absorbing Proteins
Making sure you are consuming the best protein for lean muscle is essential to your fitness goals. It is also critical to making sure you don’t lose lean muscle as you age. Incorporate at least one or two of these or similar items in your daily diet, and you’ll be in great shape.
For a complete list of health proteins check the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and their dietary guidelines. (2)
Click to see more great muscle building protein meats.
- Cafferty, L. (2020). The Truth About the Anabolic Window. Muscle & Strength. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/anabolic-window-truth.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans. (2010). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2020-01/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf.