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7 Canned Protein Sources to Stock Up On

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

*All proteins are measured per 3-ounce serving.

Crab (17g)

Often cast aside for tuna or salmon, crab contains a payload of zinc, which is necessary for maintaining levels of testosterone, the most important anabolic our bodies produce. It’s also low in calories yet loaded with muscle-building protein, making it a great food for dieters.

Light Tuna (22g)

It boasts a stellar 22-to-1 protein-to-fat ratio in a 3-ounce serving. Plus, it costs less than the solid white stuff and contains lower levels of harmful mercury. When buying canned tuna, opt for the kind packed in water rather than oil to save a bucketful of calories.

Chicken (21g)

Don’t be chicken to eat canned chicken. It’s basically just chopped white chicken meat, making it a lean protein source — about 21 grams per serving. It’s also high in selenium, an antioxidant that can help protect against exercise-induced cellular muscle damage.

Salmon (18g)

Much cheaper than fresh cuts at the fishmonger, canned salmon is a leading source of omega-3 fatty acids. On top of being a champion for heart health, research suggests omega-3s may help shed bodyfat. All fish are naturally low in sodium, so to keep your salt intake down consider buying “no salt added” versions of canned salmon and others.

Sardines (21g)

Not only are they a seafood choice that gets high-water marks for sustainability, but sardines are also crazy nutritious. They harbor impressive amounts of protein, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D — the last of which may improve your performance in the gym by elevating your testosterone level. Choose sardines packed in spring water, olive oil or tomato sauce.

Turkey (21g)

Not just for the cats, canned white turkey meat is a protein powerhouse that contains plenty of leucine, an essential amino acid particularly effective at instigating muscle growth. This canned bird also has more niacin than other protein in a tin. Niacin has been shown to heighten vasodilation, or widening of blood vessels.

Anchovies (24g)

These tiny, silvery fish hailing from the Mediterranean are brimming with protein, omega-3 fats, selenium and niacin. As they’re so small, they don’t accumulate toxins from the sea like bigger species such as albacore tuna. To reduce their saltiness, soak anchovies in water for 30 minutes; then drain and pat dry.