Interesting Protein Sources You Didn’t Know Were Out There

protein sources

Pump yourself with these unique protein sources for optimal gains.

Our protein sources are important to us. We usually stick to the staples like lean meats, beef, and those valuable protein supplements, but often times neglect the fact there is so much more out there. These unique and interesting protein sources may be unknown, but it is most certainly a missed opportunity to pump yourself with that vital protein so you only see huge gains. And as we all know, protein is imperative to growing our muscles and seeing those desired gains.

While our typical protein sources get the job done, sticking to a strict diet can be challenging and the same old foods can feel monotonous, not allowing us to fully diversify and expand our diet into foods we may actually enjoy. By incorporating these foods into our diet, we give ourselves a chance to still see awesome growth while also adding variety to our nutritional routine.


Let’s take a look at some of these protein sources so we get the most out of each and every meal. You may be surprised by some of these and will definitely want to incorporate into your routine. And who knows, these may boost your growth even more than before.

Protein Bars Vs. Protein Powder

Why Protein Matters

Protein is the building block of all muscle. Without protein, our muscles won’t grow and we will never see those desired gains. But protein also carries other benefits that are not only beneficial, but also essential for certain goals of ours as we try and be the best we can be.

Traditional sources of protein like chicken, turkey, fish, other lean meats, beef, eggs, and so on are matched by those protein supplements coming from whey, pea, brown rice, soy, hemp, among others. That’s a lot of options. But these interesting protein sources will still provide the following benefits so you see those gains you want most:

  • Boost muscle growth so you increase strength and size and aid in that desired physique (1).
  • Increase recovery to repair those damaged muscles and work for better muscle growth (2).
  • Help with weight loss by keeping you full for less snacking as you curb those unwanted cravings (3).
  • Pack you with nutrients from each respective source like vitamins and minerals to aid in your training and overall health.

Protein matters because it affects your gains. Neglecting the importance of protein would be a terrible disservice and one you can’t afford to have.

protein sources

Top Protein Sources You Never Knew Of

Let’s jump into some of these interesting and unique protein sources you may not have heard of. Each with their own respective benefits, these can be added to existing dishes you eat, or may even inspire others to diversify your diet while still seeing growth.


  • Seaweed

Seaweed is an interesting source and some may like it while others may not. An easy way to get this into a dish is to crumble it up so it blends in with the rest of it. You will get around 2-9 grams of protein per cup, and while it may take a lot of seaweed to reach one cup, it is still worth it.

  • Parmesan Cheese

We all love parmesan cheese, especially over a great pasta dish. With around 8 grams of protein for one ounce, that is a pretty large amount for this. Unfortunately, for those who avoid dairy, this is obviously not a suitable option. For those who love cheese, it doesn’t get any better than this.

  • Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a great staple for smoothies and with these, you will get 4 grams of protein in two tablespoons while also receiving a high amount of fiber. These can add a nice crunch to those yogurt parfaits, puddings, ice cream, and even salads as just another added ingredient.

  • Spinach

Spinach is a staple leafy green but surprisingly has around 5 grams of protein per cup which is great considering most people may not know that. This goes well with omelets, salads, and even in a smoothie to get those greens in a convenient and tasty way.

  • Whole Grain Pasta

Whole grain pasta will have plenty of carbs, but you will get close to 8 grams of protein with whole grain pasta. Perfect for a pre-workout meal or simply to enjoy a pasta dish, this is a great way to get protein, carbs, and enjoyment.

  • Tempeh

Tempeh has a firm texture and is made through the fermentation of soybeans. This versatile food packs a protein punch and may change your dishes in a fun and interesting way.

  • Spirulina

Spirulina is an algae that has a complete amino acid profile with plenty of vitamins and minerals. Around 4 grams of protein are in one tablespoon making this a nice addition to a salad or smoothie.

  • Cricket Powder

We wanted to share a very unique, and potentially obscure, protein source with you being cricket powder. This is a protein-rich powder made from crickets and while it does sound kind of gross, for those looking to try something totally new, you might find this a fun challenge.

Strongman guide

Best Protein Supplements For Proper Supplementation

While it is best to get these nutrients, and that vital protein, from whole foods, supplements are also a great way to hit your intended goals with ease and convenience. A protein powder is always a great option for this will boost muscle growth, increase recovery, work for weight loss and management, and give you a convenient shake to pump you with protein. For those looking to have overnight repair, casein protein is a great way to ensure this and for those looking to bulk up, a mass gainer is definitely worth checking out. And for those of us with busy schedules, a meal replacement will balance out those macronutrients so you can feel full and still reap the benefits.

Wrap Up

We all know we need protein and having staple protein sources is important for keeping us on track. But sometimes we need some variety and working to diversify our diet can greatly influence all of your goals. These interesting protein sources may just change your mind as you look see continued growth, better recovery, and amazing overall gains so give these a try, expand your diet, and see the results you want most.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Pasiakos, Stefan M.; McLellan, Tom M.; Lieberman, Harris R. (2015). “The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review”. (source)
  2. Pasiakos, Stefan M.; Lieberman, Harris R.; McLellan, Tom M. (2014). “Effects of protein supplements on muscle damage, soreness and recovery of muscle function and physical performance: a systematic review”. (source)
  3. Leidy, Heather J.; Clifton, Peter M.; Astrup, Arne; Wycherley, Thomas P.; et al. (2015). “The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.