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Meat-Free Protein

6 alternative protein sources for building muscle and losing fat

1) EGGS
These chick starter kits may be the best source of protein in the entire grocery store—and that includes the meat aisle. Eggs are cost efficient, too. You get around seven grams of pure protein per egg—and a dozen cost you less than two bucks. Contrary to popular lore, eat the whole egg, with the yolk, not just the white, which has lower levels of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

2) SOY MILK
Soy gets a bad rap. Drinking some regularly isn't going to make you grow man boobs, nor will it lower your testosterone to that of a little boy. Definitely limit the amount of overly processed soy foods you consume. But whole-food sources of soy, like soy milk, provide a quality source of protein and other nutrients like calcium, which will all help to do the body good.

3) RAW NUTS
Not only are they a fantastic source of healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants, but nuts of all types also pack a hefty dose of protein. Toss a handful in stir-fries, snack on them solo, or make your own homemade trail mix: Aim for two-thirds cup of nuts to every one-third cup of dried fruit for a high-nutrient power meal.

4) QUINOA
Often called the "perfect grain," these small, nutty-tasting granules pack a walloping 12 grams of protein (per half cup, uncooked). Add that to the high levels of magnesium, fiber, folate, and other nutrients, and quinoa's a nutrition powerhouse. Try it as a side with your home-cooked meals, in place of another grain you're used to, like rice.

5) BEANS
They're a cheap but decent source of amino acids (the building blocks of protein), and they're loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Because most nonmeat sources of protein don't have all the essential amino acids, it's usually a good idea to combine them with other foods. Try a dish of red beans and rice, for instance. Both the rice and beans lack several key amino acids, so putting the two together is a match made in nutrient heaven. And it tastes damn good, too.

6) OATS
Whole grains actually provide a fairly hefty shot of muscle-friendly protein, along with fiber and other nutrients. For a high-quality, easy-to-stomach breakfast, top your oats with walnuts, a cup of milk, and some fresh berries. In minutes, you'll create the kind of hearty breakfast that will get your biceps pumped and help you keep your energy levels high throughout the day.

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