Eat This!

20 Unhealthiest Proteins on the Planet

You know you need to eat plenty of protein to boost weight loss and help build lean, fat-blasting muscle. But not all proteins are created equal.

Eat This!

20 Unhealthiest Proteins on the Planet

You know you need to eat plenty of protein to boost weight loss and help build lean, fat-blasting muscle. But not all proteins are created equal.

Protein is the one macronutrient people load up on when they are trying to lose weight. Although protein helps build lean muscle mass — which will help burn calories at rest — can keep you feeling full, and boost your metabolism, not all protein is created equal. Some types of proteins are loaded with sodium, chemical additives, or sugars that will derail your weight-loss goals.

Since the average person should eat between 50 and 100 grams of protein for weight loss (depending on activity level and fitness goals), it’s important to make each of those protein choices count. Steer clear of these worst protein options available at the supermarket. And while you’re at it, be sure to avoid the 50 Unhealthiest Foods On The Planet.

1

Matador Original Beef Jerky

Per 1 oz (28g): 80 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 670 mg sodium, 8 g carbs (0 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 10 g protein

This Matador jerky has upwards of 700 milligrams of blood-pressure-raising sodium, which is more than four times what you'd find in the same serving of chips. It’s also one of the only brands that uses MSG and not much else to flavor it besides smoke flavoring and sugar. Biltong, on the other hand, is a jerky that has a specific recipe: It’s dipped in a vinegar marinade, sprinkled with coriander and other spices, and then air dried for 3-6 days. The process is just as simple as its ingredients, resulting in a piece of beef that’s more tender than jerky and certainly healthier. For more better-for-you jerky options, check out our list of The Best and Worst Beef Jerky — Ranked!.

Eat This! Instead:

Brooklyn Bitlong
Per 1 oz (28g): 70 calories, 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 390 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 12 g protein

2

Detour Lean Muscle Cookie Dough Caramel Crisp

Per bar (60 g): 370 calories, 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 460 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 27 g sugar alcohol), 32 g protein

The “lean muscle” headline may cause you to take a second glance, but the 32 grams of protein doesn’t justify the nearly 400 calories this bar will cost you. That’s enough calories to qualify as a meal, and it sure won’t fill you up like a plate of whole foods for the same amount of calories. This brand is also high in sugar alcohols, which can be tough to digest and cause GI issues such as bloating, gassiness, and diarrhea. This bar also has a lot of saturated fat. Shanti, on the other hand, does have 15 grams of sugar, but the ingredients are cleaner: all organic, including brown rice protein, almonds, cashews, dates, and coconut nectar.

Eat This! Instead:

Shanti Bar Recover Turmeric
Per bar (58 g): 240 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (4 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 17 g protein

3

Activia Probiotic Greek Nonfat Yogurt, Vanilla

Per serving (5.3 oz): 130 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 55 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (0 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 12 g protein

This little yogurt tub packs as much sugar as a Chocolate Frosted Cake Donut from Dunkin' Donuts. In fact, sugar is the second ingredient. So, while it does contain those active cultures we love, there are better (and less sugary) options for your morning parfait. Try Siggi's Icelandic-style yogurt instead. It has 2 more grams of protein than Activia and is one of the lowest-sugar vanilla yogurts on the market with just 9 grams of the sweet stuff.

Eat This! Instead:

Siggi's Icelandic Style Strained Non-Fat Vanilla Yogurt
Per serving (5.3 oz): 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (0 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 14 g protein

4

BSN Syntha-6 Protein

Per 1 scoop (47 grams): 200 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (5 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 22 g protein

Protein powders seem like an easy way to get more of the muscle-building stuff, but you have to carefully read the labels to make sure you’re getting a quality product. This best-selling brand, BSN Syntha-6, comes in a variety of flavors, but they’re all full of artificial sweeteners like corn syrup solids, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium. Studies have shown that the deceptively sweet artificial sweeteners trick your metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way, spiking your insulin levels, and shifting the body from a fat-burning to a fat-storing state. Naked Casein is a better option as a base for your protein shakes. With just 2 grams of sugar, 26 grams of muscle-building protein and just 110 calories, it’s a leaner, cleaner option.

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Naked Casein
Per 2 scoops (30 grams): 110 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 20 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 26 g protein

5

Nature Valley Mixed Berry Crunch Protein Oatmeal

Per 1 container (73 g): 270 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 51 g carbs (4 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 10 g protein

Some food brands have jumped on the protein train, adding it to already fiber-rich oatmeal. If you want to reap the benefits of protein first thing in the morning, we'd recommend thinkThin's option over Nature Valley's. The difference here is in the serving size; you get 10 grams of protein for each cup, but you have to eat a larger portion of Nature Valley to get that amount. And in doing so, you're also swallowing down an additional 8 grams of sugar — talk about health foods that are worse than a donut.

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thinkThin Farmer's Market Berry Crumble Oatmeal Single Serving Bowl
Per 1 packet: 190 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (5 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 10 g protein

6

Johnsonville Original Brats

Per 1 grilled link (82 g): 260 calories, 21 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 680 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 14 g protein

It’s no surprise bratwurst, one of the fattiest sausages available, made its way onto this list. These pork links from Johnsonville are nearly a third of your day’s worth of fat (8 grams of which are saturated), and more than half of the calories come from fat. Opt for chicken sausage instead, like the chicken and apple sausage from Applegate, which as just 8 grams of fat and only 1.5 grams saturated. Bonus: Applegate products are free of antibiotics and these sausages are USDA organic.

Eat This! Instead:

Applegate Organics Chicken and Apple Sausage
1 link (85 g): 150 calories, 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 790 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 14 g protein

7

Farmed Tilapia

Tilapia may be a cheaper option at the grocery store, but if it comes from a farmed source, you’re better off leaving it on the shelf. Researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine found that farm-raised tilapia has low levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids compared to other fish, such as wild salmon, and high levels of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids — more omega-6s than 80-percent lean hamburger, doughnuts, and pork bacon. The researchers say that ratio could be dangerous for patients with heart disease, arthritis, asthma, and other autoimmune diseases.

Choose wild fish instead, like wild Alaskan salmon. Not only does wild salmon have more omega-3s, it can also help you lose weight: A study published in the journal International Journal of Obesity found that eating three 5-ounce servings of salmon per week for four weeks as part of a low-calorie diet resulted in approximately 2.2 more pounds lost than following a similar diet that didn't include fish.

Eat This! Instead:

Wild Alaskan Salmon

8

Planter’s Honey Roasted Peanuts

Per 1 oz (28 g): 160 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 100 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 7 g protein

Whenever you see the word “honey” in a grocery store product, that’s usually a code word for added sugar. In fact, these peanuts include three other sweeteners in addition to honey: sugar, corn syrup, and fructose. Planter’s also cooks these peanuts with cottonseed oil, an inflammatory vegetable oil. This results in 4 grams of sugar per serving and 7 grams of carbs. You’re better off reaching for shelled peanuts; breaking open the shell will help you stick to a serving size (it’s hard to binge on peanuts when you have to put work into getting them out of their shell!). The in-shell roasted peanuts from Trader Joe’s have only simple ingredients: peanuts and salt.

Eat This! Instead:

Trader Joe’s In-Shell Roasted Salted Peanuts
Per 1 oz without shell (28 g): 160 calories, 14 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 7 g protein

9

Peter Pan Creamy Original Peanut Butter

Per 2 Tbsp (32 g): 210 calories, 17 g fat (3 g saturated fat,) 140 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 8 g protein

Peanut butter can do some amazing things to your body, if you get the right brand. But this Peter Pan brand contains four oils, sugar, and salt in what should be a jar of simply nuts, blended. One serving has more fat and sodium than a small order of McDonald’s French fries. The best peanut butters should contain only simple ingredients: peanut and salt. Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter is only made with peanuts and less than 1 percent salt. This means the brand has fewer calories, less fat, less sugar, and more protein.

Eat This! Instead:

Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter, Creamy
Per 2 Tbsp (32 g): 200 calories, 16 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 105 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 8 g protein

10

Starkist Solid White Albacore Tuna in Oil

Per 2 oz, drained (56 g): 90 calories, 3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 13 g protein

Canned albacore tuna, like the tuna in StarKist Solid White, contains three times the level of mercury as canned light tuna, according to the FDA. Although the mercury level in StarKist white tuna is around 0.35 ppm, according to StarKist’s website — which is less than the FDA-recommended 1.0 ppm — the FDA still only recommends you eat albacore, or white tuna, once a week. On top of that, this tuna from StarKist sits in a pool of inflammatory soybean oil.

Opt for canned light tuna in water instead. Light tuna is a mix of smaller tuna species, most often skipjack, and is one of the FDA’s “Best Choices” for fish, which means you can eat 2-3 servings of canned light tuna a week. Plus tuna in water means fewer calories and fewer inflammatory omega-6s than than tuna in soybean oil.

Eat This! Instead:

Wild Planet Skipjack Wild Tuna, No Salt Added
Per 2 oz (56 g): 60 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 14 g protein

11

Odwalla Original Super Protein Protein Shake

Per 15.2 fl oz bottle: 350 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 330 mg sodium, 62 g carbs (1 g fiber, 56 g sugar), 19 g protein

If you’re looking for a post-workout drink, Odwalla’s does have a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein, which experts recommend for recovery. But that doesn't mean you should down 56 grams of sugar with only one gram of digestion-slowing fiber. Opt for Calnaturale Svelte, which boasts 8 vitamins and minerals, has 35 percent of your daily value of calcium, and 30 percent of your DV of vitamin D. At just 9 grams of sugar, 5 grams of filling fiber and 16 grams of protein, it’s definitely the smarter choice.

Drink This! Instead:

Calnaturale Svelte Organic Protein Drink
Per 15.9 fl oz bottle: 260 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (5 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 16 g protein

12

Saag's Hickory Smoked Virginia Brand Ham

Per 2 oz (56 g): 60 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 680 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 10 g protein

Saag's smoked ham is not only full of sodium, it also carries caramel color and sodium nitrites; we don't think you'd be able to find those in your pantry. Applegate, on the other hand, is made with simpler ingredients: pork, water, sea salt, cane sugar, celery powder, and spice extracts.

Eat This! Instead:

Applegate Naturals Uncured Slow Cooked Ham
Per 2 oz (56 g): 60 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 480 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 11 g protein

13

Land O'Frost Premium Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

Per 4 slices (50 g): 80 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 550 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 8 g protein

If you eat with Land O'Frost's Premium Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast for lunch, you’re indulging in a sodium bomb; it’s mostly made up of the blood-pressure-raising stuff combined with mysterious "flavorings.” To get more protein—and way less sodium—go with the same brand's newest "Pure and Simple" line.

Eat This! Instead:

Land O'Frost Pure and Simple Oven Roasted Turkey Breast
Per 2 oz (56 g): 60 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 370 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 13 g protein

14

Bar-S Classic Bologna

Per 1 slice (32 g): 100 calories, 8 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 350 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 3 g protein

A smoked, seasoned sausage usually made up of pork and chicken, bologna is the black sheep of deli meats thanks to being so over processed and concentrated in sodium. (That nutrition info you're seeing above are usually for a single slice, compared to the nutrition info of deli meats which are 4-5 slices per serving.) To avoid the modified corn starches and potassium acetates, grab a package of Saag's over Bar-S—and you'll also save yourself the calories, fat, and sodium.

Eat This! Instead:

Saag's German Brand Bologna
Per 1 oz (28 g): 70 calories, 6.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 210 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3.5 g protein

15

Hillshire Farm Deli Select Ultra Thin Sliced Roast Beef

Per 2 oz (56 g): 70 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 550 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 11 g protein

Leave the beef flavor and caramel color—we mean Hillshire Farm's Roast beef—on the shelf and grab a package of Applegate Organics Roast Beef. Made from organic beef, which studies have found to be higher in heart-healthy omega-3s than conventional cuts, these slices will be the best meat for your French dip or sandwich with spicy horseradish.

Eat This! Instead:

Applegate Organics Roast Beef
Per 2 oz (56 g): 80 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 320 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 12 g protein

16

Gallo and Galileo Salame

Per 1 oz (28 g): 110 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 480 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 6 g protein

It's salty, fatty, delicious, and a staple of every Italian sub. If you're going to indulge, do so with your better body goals in mind and pick up a package of Applegate Naturals' Genoa Salami. You'll get the same flavor from Gallo (called Galileo on the East Coast) but for fewer calories and grams of fat and with an extra 2 grams of protein.

Eat This! Instead:

Applegate Naturals Uncured Genoa Salami
Per 1 oz (28 g): 100 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 480 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 8 g protein

17

Buddig Original Pastrami

Per 2 oz (56 g): 100 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 600 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 9 g protein

Pastrami is usually a Not That! when it comes to those who are watching their sodium levels. That's because even the healthy options are full of the stuff. Saag's wins out compared to Budding here because it has more than half the fat, fewer calories, and more muscle-building protein. Plus, it's made from Choice beef, one of the better cuts of meat (second tier) on the market.

Eat This! Instead:

Saag's Pastrami
Per 2 oz (56 g): 80 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 560 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 12 g protein

18

Hormel Pepperoni—50% Less Sodium

Per 1.1 oz (30 g): 160 calories, 15 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 260 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 5 g protein

Hormel serves up two food who satisfy one of the weight loss rules you can cheat on: low-sodium and low-fat foods are not always best for your body. In Hormel's case, the pepperoni with less fat is absurdly high in sodium—nearly twice that of Applegate's—and their less sodium option ramps up the fat count. You're better off with their original option, which is moderate on both counts, or just go for the best option: Applegate Naturals.

Eat This! Instead:

Applegate Naturals Uncured Mini Pork Pepperoni
Per 1 oz (28 g): 50 calories, 3.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 350 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3 g protein

19

Wolf Brand Original Chili With Beans

1 cup (254 g): 350 calories, 18 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 920 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (8 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 17 g protein

Racking up nearly 1,000 milligrams of sodium per measly 1 cup serving and managing to be one of the few soups on the market with any artery-clogging trans fat, Wolf Brand’s chili doesn’t deserve a place in your pantry. Cut back on calories, 12 grams of fat and 4 grams of saturated fat by picking up a similar chili offering from Campbell’s.

Eat This! Instead:

Campbell's Chunky Chili With Bean Roadhouse
Per 1 cup: 240 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 870 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (7 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 14 g protein

20

Evolve Kefir, Strawberry

Per 1 cup: 170 calories, 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrates (0 g fiber, 25 g sugar), 10 g protein

Kefir, a probiotic-rich yogurt drink, is great for digestion; there’s a reason why it’s one of our 18 Probiotic Foods for a Healthy Gut. But some kefir drinks are loaded with added sugars, like the strawberry flavor from Evolve. Go for something with no added sugar, like Lifeway’s Low-Fat Organic Plain Kefir. It clocks in with fewer calories, less sugar, and even more protein.

Drink This! Instead:

Lifeway Low-Fat Organic Kefir, Plain
Per 1 cup: 110 calories, 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrates (0g fiber, 12 g sugar), 11 g protein