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Best High Protein Foods For Weight Loss And Muscle Building


Best high protein foods based on the biological value (BV)

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m sharing the best high protein foods for weight loss and muscle building, based on the amino acid profile and biological value (BV) of the protein source.

The biological value of protein is just one of several ways to measure the quality or value of a protein source.

But before we get into those high protein foods and what the biological value means, let me be clear.

Regardless if your goal is weight loss or muscle building, the majority of people should add more high protein foods to their daily meals and snacks.

Consuming a sufficient amount of high quality protein in your diet, is key to not only build muscle, but also providing your body with the essential amino acids to produce healthy hormones, enzymes, tissues, and cells in your body.


High protein foods are of prime importance

The word protein comes from a Greek word meaning “of prime importance”.

If you look at the standard American diet, protein consumption is usually very low.

Now, most people are probably aware that consuming high protein foods play a major role in repairing and building muscle.

But foods high in protein are also very beneficial in helping you burn fat, lose weight, and keep you looking and feeling young.

How does protein help you lose weight?

High protein foods help build lean muscle tissue.

This is important for weight loss since muscle is the key driver for your metabolism.

Thus the more lean muscle you have:

  • the faster your metabolism
  • the more calories you’ll burn throughout the day

Is this food a complete or incomplete protein source?

Many foods from plants and animals contain protein, however not all protein is created equally.

Before I started getting serious about my fitness and nutrition, I assumed if the nutrition label on the package showed 30g of protein, that was the amount of protein my body was absorbing.


This is especially true of foods where the calories are primarily comprised of carbohydrates or fat.

For example, nuts contain protein, but their calories primarily come from fat, while oats and rice also contain protein, but their calories primarily come from carbohydrates.

So even though the label may show these foods contain 5g of protein, it’s not a high quality source of protein, since it is made up of an incomplete amino acid profile.

Therefore, protein from secondary protein sources are typically not comprised of a high quality, complete amino acid profile.

If I lost you with terms like “incomplete amino acid profile”, let me explain it in easier to understand terms.

Amino Acids – The Building Block of Protein

Proteins are made up of amino acids.

These amino acids are classified as essential and non-essential.

Essential amino acids cannot be produced by your body, therefore they must be consumed via food, to optimally repair and build muscle.

By not consuming an adequate amount of complete protein sources in your diet, you run the risk of limiting your ability to maintain and grow new muscle, which helps you stay young and lean.

Here’s a list of the 9 essential amino acids.

9 essential amino acids are:

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Since, nuts, oats, and rice do not contain high levels of all of these essential amino acids, they are not considered a primary and complete protein source.

Although you can combine incomplete sources of protein, like rice and black beans together to make a complete protein source, that’s a whole other topic for another post.

In contrast to essential amino acids, non-essential amino acids can be produced by your body, without food.

Here is a list of all 11 non-essential amino acids.

11 non-essential amino acids:

  • Alanine
  • Arginine
  • Asparagine
  • Aspartic acid
  • Cysteine
  • Glutamic acid
  • Glutamine
  • Glycine
  • Proline
  • Serine
  • Tyrosine

So now the question is, which foods not only have complete amino acid profiles, but can also be readily absorbed by the body?

cedar plank salmon

What is the bioavailability of protein? Biological value (BV)?

Ok, I know I just threw another term at you, but bioavailability of protein is a simple concept to understand.

The bioavailability of protein simply represents the percentage of the protein source that your body absorbs, and uses to repair and build muscle.

This is represented by a number called the biological value (BV).


The biological value measures the nitrogen retention and absorption.

The higher the biological value, the better the nitrogen retention, thus maintaining an anabolic state of muscle building.

Again, just because the nutrition label says, 30g of protein, in some cases, it doesn’t mean that’s what you’re actually absorbing in your body.

Your body and digestive system absorbs certain proteins better than others.

The more readily absorbed the protein is, the higher the biological value of that protein source.

Although the biological value of protein is a decent measure, like all the other methods, it does have drawbacks as well.

High protein foods with the highest bioavailability:

Protein from healthy animals contains the best amino acid profile and biological value for building muscle and weight loss.

The best high protein foods with complete proteins include:

#1. Grass Fed Beef

Grass Fed Beef - Fitness Super Food #6

Read more about the benefits of grass fed beef.

#2. Free range chicken and turkey

Chicken Breast - Fitness Superfood #7

Read more about the benefits of free range chicken and turkey.

#3. Wild Salmon

Read more about the benefits of Wild salmon.

#4. Organic whole eggs

eggsRead more about the benefits of organic whole eggs.

#5. Protein powder

Protein Powder - Fitness Superfood #3

Read more about the benefits of protein powder.

The biological value (BV) of protein

Here is a list of high protein foods with the highest biological value.

Again, the biological value is a simple measure of how much of the protein is absorbed by the body after consuming it.

The higher the biological value of the protein source, the more readily absorbed the protein is.

High Quality Complete Protein Sources

Protein Source

Biological Value (BV)

Whey Protein Powder


Whole Egg


Dairy Milk


Egg White


Cottage Cheese












Casein Protein Powder


Soy Protein Powder


Low Quality Incomplete Protein Sources













Bottom line:

Focus on adding more of these high protein foods to you diet to make up the majority of your protein consumption goals.

Once you do, your food cravings will decrease, so you won’t eat as much, you’ll build more muscle so you’ll feel stronger, and you’ll increase your metabolism so you’ll burn more calories and body fat.

If you’re tired of eating the same old boring chicken breast, it’s time to learn how to make your proteins taste delicious.

Check out our over 200 cooking video recipes and weekly meal plans at our group coaching site, Team Live Lean.

Thanks for watching and keep Living Lean.

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80 responses to “Best High Protein Foods For Weight Loss And Muscle Building

  1. Does Eating Lettuce,Tomatoes,Cucumbers,Peppers,Zucchini Count as Calories? And if im an 18 Yr Old Male About 145 Pounds. How many Grams of Protein should I be eating a day? And can I rat more protein then what’s actually needed?

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