For many, the sizzle of grilling beef is the sound of celebration. For athletes and weight trainers, it’s also the sound of protein on the way.
Unlike plant-based protein sources, beef is densely packed with the same types of proteins humans are made of: skeletal muscle proteins like myosin, actin, and troponins, as well as collagen and other connective tissue proteins. Typically animal meat is more than 80 percent protein on a dry-weight basis. Assuming leaner cuts, the protein content of beef rivals fish and poultry at about 6-7 g per oz. depending on the cut. For maximum muscle impact with minimum calories, look for rounds or loins, which are extra-lean meat cuts.
Beef is more than just a piece of charbroiled protein. It is also a major source of micronutrients including vitamin B12 and the minerals phosphorous, iron, and zinc, all of which are crucial in muscle-building and athletic performance. It’s also a key source of carnosine, the dipeptide which releases beta-alanine during digestion; and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a healthy fat that’s been connected in studies to decreased body fat, among other benefits.
Beef is also one of most concentrated food sources of creatine, which it delivers to the tune of 1 g for every 8 oz. of meat. Creatine is a potent anaerobic backup energy reserve in muscle cells, usually applied during the first few seconds of high intensity muscle actions like weight training reps and sprints. It can also help increase mitochondria content in growing muscle cells, providing additional cellular energy for use in recovery and adaptation. In addition, creatine can draw and hold water into cells, which in turn supports additional protein-building.
When it comes to supplements, there are few options for beef protein concentrates or isolates. If you find one, make sure its protein is derived from meat tissue, not collagen. Intact collagen is poorly digested and contributes little to MPS, and hydrolyzed collagen isn’t much better. Go with real beef for real results!
By Neale Cranwell