What is considered a high-quality protein?

Protein is one of three macro-nutrients that the body needs in order to survive.  Proteins are very complex compounds made up of amino acids and play a role in the structure of our genes, cells, tissues and muscles.  There are 20 essential amino acids in the human body which serve as building blocks for enzymes, hormones, and neurons.

Adequate protein consumption is not only important for health, it’s also important for individuals trying to lose fat or building lean muscles (or both!). Whether you’re a body-builder, an athlete aiming for increased performance in your sport, someone longing to lose some excess body fat, an exercise addict, or an individual looking to maintain a healthy physique – you all can benefit from consuming enough high-quality protein to satisfy your nutritional needs and meet your body composition goals.

In my opinion, eating whole food sources of protein is always better than consuming protein supplements whenever possible, but sometimes the convenience and quick absorption of these supplements is difficult to turn down.  Plus, many of us get so busy that cooking a meal with a healthy source of protein is not always an option.  

Here are the types of things you’ll want to be on the lookout for in order to get the highest-quality protein to nourish your body.  Remember that different types of protein are not created equal due to a different composition of amino acids, so it’s important to consume a variety of plant and animal-based options. 


For land-based animal proteins (fish, pork, beef, eggs, game meats, and poultry):

  • Hormone-free
  • Antibiotic-free
  • Nitrate/Nitrite-free
  • Artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors
  • Grass-fed

For sea-based animal proteins (shellfish and finfish) 

  • As fresh as possible (catch of the day or flash frozen upon capture)
  • Wild-caught
  • Sustainably harvested
  • Never farmed
  • No anti-biotics

For land-based plant proteins (seeds, nuts and beans)

  • Unprocessed and in their whole form
  • Organically grown

For sea-based plant proteins (seaweed, and algae)

  • Responsibly sourced
  • Minimally processed



The list of high-quality indicators for whole foods listed above also apply to the supplements made using those ingredients.  When it comes to high-quality protein powder you’ll want to pay extra attention to the ingredients and avoid certain inflammatory ingredients such as whey, soy, gluten, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavorings.  Here are some of my favorite high-quality protein powders for each category. 

Land-based animal protein

Land-based plant protein

Sea-based animal protein

Sea-based animal protein


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