There are all kinds of protein sources out there. While some people might just stick to a normal diet to get their protein, it’s worth paying closer attention to your protein sources if you have gotten into exercise and want to maintain muscle or if you are a vegetarian and need to supplement your normal diet with other protein sources. Even if you’re simply trying to eat a balanced diet, research and information can never hurt. Protein supplements themselves come from a lot of different sources, and it will depend on your needs to decide what is best for you.

Why Is Dietary Protein So Important?

Protein is necessary to fuel muscle growth as well as to maintain and repair the network of muscles, ligaments, nerves and more that powers our muscular skeletal frame. When it comes to dealing with protein, if you do not get enough of it, your body will literally use what is already stored in muscles to repair itself. This means that working out without proper protein is actually self-defeating and can have an overall negative effect.

What Are Some Popular Protein Sources?

Nuts: Versatile & Affordable

One of the cheapest protein sources with the least downsides for most people will actually be nuts. Not only do they come in a huge variety, but they also have great prices. A $2 bottle of peanuts can easily contain 40g to 80g of protein. When it comes to variety, you might also want to look at almonds, which also have a large amount of healthy fat needed for energy and brain power. Cashews and almonds both have a lot of flavor options, making it easier to find an option you enjoy. And if you enjoy something, you are more likely to stick with it.

Eggs & Dairy: Great for Some

Not everyone reacts positively to dairy. Some people have intolerance, and others bloat after consuming it. If your body handles it well, however, eggs, cheese and milk are all great and affordable options for protein.

Protein Bars: Read Labels Carefully

Protein bars are great but can often come with high sugar amounts. Some protein bars might also offer fiber and healthy fats, but often they are essentially candy bars with protein powder of some form. Not all are like this, so it is important to read the label when making a choice.

Protein Powder: Know What It’s Made Of

Protein powder is another great option and one of the cheapest protein/cent ratios. Pea protein and hemp protein are two great options for everyone. This is especially true for hemp now that it has been legal to grow in America for a while, as it has a diverse set of nutrition.

For any vegetarians, it is important to know to stay away from whey protein, which is made using chicken. Casein is also a great and affordable supplement that works for vegetarians (but not vegans) because it is made using dairy products. The same goes for egg protein.

It is best for most men to stay away from soy protein. Soy actually removes testosterone from your body and can potentially be an overall negative when it comes to muscle mass, making it best for you to stick with other options. While this is especially important for men, even some women should avoid soy protein if they do not want the amount of estrogen they have to be altered.