Protein Sources: Cost/Convenience/Variety

Main question: is there a max percentage of one’s daily protein intake that should come from a single source?

Part two: can a variety of different protein powders effectively cover the ‘variety’ base or is a variety of real foods crucial too?

And the likely follow-on: what are everyone’s favorite convenient and portable protein sources that don’t break the bank?

One of my biggest training wins in my late 30’s has been the discovery that I need to aim at or over 2g protein per kg body weight per day in order to recover from big efforts in a reasonable timescale. At 70-73kg that means I’m aiming around 140g when I’m tracking my food and 150g when it’s just mental math.

It has made a huge difference for me which is great, but I’m a freelancer so there’s lots of work travel and I’m out and about a lot even when I’m home. That has made it really difficult to keep on top of protein intake without an exploding budget (or calorie surplus).

At the moment I’m getting ~50g from pea protein isolate powder and maybe another ~20g pea protein from a protein bar so have just assumed I probably need to get the rest from other sources. It recently occurred to me that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a nutritionist/dietician actually say something like that though. How much does variety matter with protein?

What would I sacrifice if I doubled my daily powder intake and dropped the protein bar, so I’d be at ~100g baseline on powder with 40-60g extra coming from real food (3 meals x 20g)? Is 66% from a single source too homogenous?

Would it change anything if I started incorporating other powders as well? Pea protein was part of an experiment to rule out possible intolerances with whey or soya and I was happy enough with it that I just stuck with it as the path of least resistance. I think I absolutely could re-integrate whey/soya/others if I wanted, and the company I’m ordering from ( has just about any source that exists. I saw Pumpkin, Brown Rice, and Hemp Seed powder recommended in this thread: Tips on getting enough protein. Would a mix of some of those get me the variety I need?

And if more/different powder isn’t the answer then I’m curious if anyone has any other good cost-effective portable favorites?

Beef jerky and a protein bar have been my go-to portables but the Jerky gets expensive really fast (£3+ for a packet here in UK). For an in-transit meal I’ll also often get a salad or other veg-heavy main and then grab a packet or two of deli turkey or grilled chicken slices, but prepared poultry is north of £3 for a packet most places now too. Obviously I could be prepping my own chicken at home twice a week and bringing portions out of the fridge, but that falls down whenever I have to travel overnight without fridge access. Similar story with boiled eggs and other deli-style goods.

Any thoughts appreciated, thanks!


You could try canned meat ( tuna, chicken, etc) as a portable source. Beans and nuts are good but not the high protein value as animal sources.


I’d try something like this protein blend: Product Details. If they have one with whey, micellar casein and egg white, that would be a good one too.

For on the go protein, my go to sources are cottage cheese, individual servings of yogurt or skyr. I don’t know if those are readily available in the UK like they are here in the U.S.

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Whey is always the cheapest because of how farm subsidies work in the US.

Not sure you need variety other than if your palate desires it.


I always eat Almonds in the office after lunch when I get hungry. They are not cheap (in Switzerland) though. 200g Almonds = 48g Protein

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I’m no scientist and this is pure bro science, but I can’t imagine getting 100% of your protein intake from a supplements is the best idea. Can’t really back my opinion up though.

Nuts are great unless you need to watch your calories. Super healthy but it’s easy to just eat 1200 calories and not even flinch haha. Canned fish is another easy one, if you don’t mind the taste.

If you’re getting ~70g from supplements, you really shouldn’t have an issue to get the other 70 from regular foods. A single serving of protein (e.g. a 200g steak) should net you another 25-50g of protein, and then you’ll likely get the remaining protein from just eating enough.


iirc Pea Protein Powder doesn’t have the same protein amount (or amino acids) as whey. Is there a reason you’re avoiding whey? It is pretty much the most cost effective form of protein, and obviously loads of flavours, and notwithstanding the flavourings 100% natural. Personally, I rarely have it in a shake, but would supplement a few times a day in my porridge, and mixed with yogurt.

While I do like some of the protein bars (Grenade Oreo/ Fulfil Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel I’m looking at you), I have seen the quality of the protein questioned. On the likes of myprotein, there’s lots of bar and cookie options which work out cheaper and are convenient to carry.

In terms of convenience - all of the supermarkets have sliced cooked chicken and turkey options, and a lot of them do ham or turkey shavings. Aldi and Lidl here in Ireland do protein puddings, protein rice puddings and some protein yogurt pouches.


Thanks, this is all great and please keep the suggestions coming!

This was basically my impetus for making the thread. I think I’ll go put it to @Jonathan for the next podcast episode that has Alex/Kyle/Tim (or another nutritionist/dietician) on. Maybe something like “please could you have them talk a bit about variety and quality in daily protein sources? What do we need to prioritise and/or be wary of, and how do we check? As a masters athlete with increased protein requirements I find it difficult to get enough low-fat, convenient, portable, and affordable protein into my travel-heavy and unpredictable freelance working pattern. So if not all protein is created equal it would be really helpful to have some guiding principles about what makes some kinds of protein better than others.”

Yeah this was one of the things on my mind with the post as well. I think on a recent podcast episode Kyle said he encourages his athletes to think of nuts as a good way to get their fat macro up rather than thinking of them as a protein source. (Or perhaps not that exactly, but I think that message was behind whatever was said.)

I didn’t mention this in my original post but part of my reason for asking is specifically because I’m really struggling to hit my race weight this year. I’m certain it has way more to do with my current travel-heavy contract that I started in September than it does with increasing my protein intake but my protein goals certainly aren’t making it any easier. And even though eating during travel is harder, I think it’s the interruptions to routine that have a bigger effect than the travel food alone. (For context I’m 172cm and raced at 69-71kg last few years with a normal increase to 73ish kg in the off-season, but after doing my first ultra last year I needed a much bigger reset and peaked at 76kg. Now we’re in June and I haven’t managed to get below 73kg again. I’m not panicking, just trying to take a bit of a closer look and find more ways to optimise diet.)

Not really. I dropped whey/soy at the suggestion of a dermatologist but it didn’t make any difference to my eczema. I think I just stayed on pea protein as path of least resistance. Pretty sure I chose pea protein because it was touted as having the best BCAA content (or something else?) of all the plant-based proteins.

Maybe time to bring back whey again with something like this suggestion:

I’ll start having a look at canned fish and some of these other suggestions too. Thanks and more thoughts are welcome too!

One thing for me with pea protein vs whey is that whey gave me gut issues. I could really easily digest pea protein but not whey.

But could have been brand specific, i was a broke college student at the time and didn’t have the budget to just buy a bunch of brands to test it out.

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Spirulina (powder rather than caps or tablets - cheaper and with no added ingredients or fillers). A complete protein with a host of minerals, vitamins. Plenty of additional health benefits beyond its nutritional benefits. Not the cheapest supplement around and not to everyone’s taste. Fortunately I like its distinctive earthy taste. I have it First thing in the morning and in smoothies.

I’m in the US and have never heard of “skyr”, so I would not say it’s readily available here. What is it?

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Really? Siggis is fairly popular I thought. I eat gallons of it. It’s basically just Icelandic Greek yogurt

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Never heard of it, but maybe just never noticed it wasn’t just another brand of yogurt given the packaging (I googled Siggis)

There is definitely a hierarchy in protein “quality” - brief snip from a different post.


Echoing the above, there’s a metric for this: Protein digestibility corrected amino acid score. This takes into account amino acid profile, how well it matches the needs of humans (referenced for toddlers I think, as this is the most nutritionally demanding age) as well as how readily a protein is digested and absorbed: Protein digestibility corrected amino acid score - Wikipedia

A slight variation on this scoring is the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score, which takes into account where in the gut a protein source is mainly absorbed: Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score - Wikipedia

The results are pretty consistent, and both indicate that animal sources are generally best. Whey is my personal go-to, as it’s relatively inexpensive and I find the taste inoffensive. I’m veg/pescatarian, so I try to get ~80-100g per day from real food, but supplement with a ~50g whey shake. In general you probably don’t need to worry too much about these scores unless you’re getting ALL your protein from a supplement. If so note that some of the plant-derived supplements (e.g. wheat, rice, hemp) are pretty poor. Pea and soy are pretty good though.


Yeah, Siggis is what I was talking about. Wasn’t sure that brand was available in the UK so didn’t mention the brand. It feels like Siggis is everywhere here in the US, but then again I’m in California so maybe I should say everywhere in California.

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Siggi’s is out here on the east coast too. I don’t buy it myself, but feel like I see it frequently.

I checked, and it’s available in Houston. I’ve never heard of it though, and have never seen it marketed or anything. I have no idea what it is or why it’s any different from other (far cheaper) yogurts.

Being honest though, this sounds like the kind of thing that might be marketed a lot more in California than in Texas :rofl:

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Ha! Who needs yogurt when you have brisket? Siggis is high protein relatively low sugar, unlike the cheaper yogurt which is usually low protein, high sugar.

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Never heard of Siggis here in the UK, but there is plenty of Skyr. It’s become popular in the last few years.

To be honest most yoghurt in the UK is, um, yoghurt. Milk and protein, very little sugar. Maybe flavouring or fruit. Skyr is higher protein than plain standard yoghurt, but not by much afaik.