So you're hitting the gym hard, lifting the weights and packing in proteins like there is no tomorrow. Do you find that you aren't getting the gains that you wanted? It might be that your protein intake is lacking in quality, and as such, you don't get all the gains you would expect from the workout you have done. This can be extremely frustrating as it means that all your hard work might not be making it to your muscles. Today we will look at the meats that boost performance and muscle gain, and the contents of meat that are important to performance.
What Should my Meat Contain?
There are a number of nutrients within meat, and some of them are more effective in muscle growth than others. Obviously there are a range of reasons to go to the gym and therefore a range of important nutrients, but today we will look at muscle growth. The important nutrients are...
- Protein (particularly leucine) - you need protein for amino acids and leucine increases protein metabolism.
- Saturated Fat - usually something to reduce in your diet, healthy amounts of saturated fat will increase testosterone, the hormone used to build muscle.
- Unsaturated fat - unsaturated fat is essential for antioxidant and hormone transfer, so make sure you get some of this
- Zinc -Required for good protein synthesis while also combining with saturated fat for testosterone boosting.
- Selenium - this is a natural antioxidant and will protect your new muscle cells.
That said each type of meat will help you in different ways. Let's have a look at a few of the best options...
Best for Protein and Leucine - Venison and Tuna
As far as high quality protein and leucine go, it's difficult to find quality meat that doesn't fit the bill. Turkey, chicken, venison, tuna, ostrich and beef are all high in protein per 100g, with around 22g. Where venison and tuna really win though is their high levels of leucine. Leucine is one of your essential amino acids, and will substantially increase the rate of protein synthesis in the body. Powerful animals tend to have high amounts, so venison and tuna are packing more than 1900mg per 100g of meat. Bottom of the pile is lamb, which is trailing behind with only 17g of protein and 1336mg of leucine, so this is one to avoid.
Best for Saturated Fat - Beef and Salmon
Saturated fat often gets a bad reputation, and it's not unwarranted. The problem is that people often over consume saturated fat, and this can lead to complications. In this way, 100g of lamb contains 10g of saturated fat, which is more than you need, and so it again comes in bottom of the list. Joining it at the bottom of the list are turkey, chicken and tuna. They all have no saturated fat. This is great if you're on a diet, but obviously means that the testosterone benefits aren't there. Salmon and beef contain 3g of saturated fat per 100g, which is a healthy amount, and will boost your testosterone levels. This means more muscle building hormone, and more muscles.
Best for Unsaturated Fat - Salmon and Mackerel
Unsaturated fat aids in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. After your workout your body is full of damage as you rip up the muscles. This, combined with energy production means you have the need for plenty of antioxidants. Vitamin E, A and K are needed to support your systems recovery, and you need unsaturated fat for this. Salmon and mackerel are packed with unsaturated fat, with 10g and 11g respectively. Coupled with their low levels of saturated fat and these fish are a winner for your post exercise recovery. Chicken, venison and tuna are bringing up the rear, with only 1g of unsaturated fat in each of them.
Best for Zinc - Ostrich and Beef
When it comes to zinc, land animals are better by rule of thumb. Zinc is an essential mineral in the production of testosterone, which helps stimulate muscle growth, as well as aiding in protein synthesis and immune function. Beef and ostrich contain 24% and 25% of your RDA per 100g respectively, meaning that on each serving you're likely to have great levels of zinc, and this will really boost your muscle gains. Avoid fish if you're looking for zinc, as it is limited in its levels, with salmon, mackerel and tuna all having small amounts.
Best for Selenium - Mackerel, Tuna and Ostrich
Selenium is an essential antioxidant and protects cells from damage, particularly during exercise. Before you hit the gym it is good to have high levels of selenium as you need the protection from muscle cell damage if you are lifting a lot and ripping the fibres. Mackerel contains 63% of your RDA in 100g of fish, while tuna contains 52% in the same amount and ostrich contains 51% in 100g of meat. This means that in a general serving, you'll get plenty of selenium. Venison is bringing up the rear in this nutrient, with only 14% of your RDA per 100g.
So what's the Best Meat?
As you can see, different meats have different levels of benefit. As you can only eat a certain amount of protein, a maximum of about 2g of protein per kg of body weight per day, your choice in important. FO-OD suggests that there are three standout meats; beef, ostrich and tuna. These all contain good levels of protein and leucine, making them a general good basis for your protein synthesis and muscle size. Ostrich and tuna are quite lean, so you will need to ensure you get your fats in other parts of your diet, but they are very high in selenium. Ostrich and beef are full of zinc, but have less leucine than the tuna. You can increase your zinc with some seeds in your diet, like pine nuts, or watermelon seeds. We would say that ostrich is probably the most complete meat choice, but is often hard to get hold of, so beef or tuna might be more affordable, but any of these three will see you getting the best gains than ever. Just make sure you overall diet is healthy and you'll be ripped in no time!