What are best animal-derived amino acid sources?

A diet containing high quality proteins is vital for overall health and vitality.

The amount of protein needed to sustain a healthy body depends on individual weight. Per kilogram of body weight for an adult, the recommended protein intake is 0.8g daily. Therefore, a man weighting 80kg should consume around 60g of high quality protein per day.

While vegans and vegetarians can still access excellent sources of essential amino acids, animal-based amino acid sources provide a higher concentration of complete proteins.

Here are the TOP 6 animal-based sources of essential amino acids


essential amino acidsBeef is an excellent source of protein and essential amino acids. However, not all cuts of beef are the same. Different cuts will have different quantities of amino acids and saturated fat. Also, how the beef is raised will also impact on the nutritional quality of the meat.

The leanest cut of beef come from the round or back leg. A top round is suitable for grilling or making dishes such as steak tartare, Italian braciole, or rolled braised roulade.

Beef derived from the hindquarters also has a similar amount of protein and saturated fat content. However, this cut should be marinated overnight because it lacks a lot of flavour.

Beef derived from the lower loin is also low in fat and a good source of protein. However, this cut can be very tough, so it’s a good idea to tenderise the meat first. Dry-aged sirloin for example is tender and contains very little fat.

Eighty-five grams of beef from these cuts provides approximately 25g of protein and 1-1.6g of saturated fat.


essential amino acidsSimilar to beef, the leaner cuts of pork are found in the hindquarters and the lower half of the pig. This is the area that we know as ham. Eighty-five grams of ham contains around 19g of protein, and 2.2g of saturated fat.

Pork tenderloins (derived from the muscle along the spine) have a slightly higher concentration of protein at 24g per 85g of cooked meat and the saturated fat concentration is lower at 1.3g.


Egg whites (albumen) are the leanest source of animal protein. A single egg white contains 3.6g of protein and no fat. The albumen has approximately half the amount of protein found in eggs, plus the majority of magnesium, potassium and riboflavin.

The majority of minerals and vitamins are found within the yolk. Contrary to popular opinion, egg yolks don’t actually elevate cholesterol levels, making them a healthy source of animal protein1.


eggsWhite meats such as chicken and turkey are good sources of essential amino acids. Chicken breast without the bone and skin is the leanest source of chicken.

Eighty-five grams of chicken breast provides 26g of protein and only 0.84g of saturated fat. Chicken thighs with skin have less protein (around 18) and more fat (around 3.3g).

Turkey is a slightly better alternative to chicken. Eighty-five grams of roasted turkey breast also has 26g of protein, but the saturated fat content is less at 0.5g.


essential amino acidsOne of the leanest forms of animal protein with all the essential amino acids is shrimps. Eighty-five grams of this shellfish provides 20g of protein and zero saturated fat.

Scallops are also a great source of animal-based protein without the fat. Eighty-five grams of steamed scallops provide 17g of protein by only 0.2g of saturated fat.

Oysters are also a good source of protein. Just over 100g of oysters will provide 16g of protein.


essential amino acidsRainbow trout is also one of the many excellent amino acid sources. Eighty-five grams of this fish baked provides 20g of protein. The saturate fat content is 1.3g. Another benefit of consuming this fish is that it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are also very important for health and wellbeing.

Salmon is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. There is approximately 23g of protein in every 85g of salmon, and 1.7g of saturated fat.

*All the figures provided are based on figures from nutritional databases in the United States. Organic, grass-feed meats are healthier for the body. Always check the sources for shellfish and fish to avoid potential heavy metal contamination.


  1. “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26399866”