Shell Game: Switch Up Your Muscle-Building Protein With Crustaceans

Switch up your muscle-building protein with crustaceans.

Bodybuilding's most-muscular pose is also called the crab pose, which got us to thinking: Is it just because this bone-crunching muscle shot mimics the writhing of these clawed creatures?

Or could it be that crabmeat helped build all that muscle in the first place?

If the crab-poser in question were smart, both theories would be valid. After all, every 100 grams of crabmeat contains 18.1 grams of Protein, along with essential fatty acids, zinc, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

Crabmeat is also of the tastiest proteins on earth, a trait shared by other crustaceans. The term may not roll off the tongue, but those sea creatures sure know how to tantalize the tongue.

True, this isn't the cheapest protein in town. Chicken breasts, tuna, fish, egg whites, protein powder, even lean red meat are usually cheaper than crab, lobster, and shrimp. That matters even more when you're eating six to eight times a day, and building each meal around protein.

What's more, bodybuilders are wary of the salt and cholesterol content within crustaceans, and shun them as a result. But do they need to? Or is time to join the crustacean nation?

So we cast a wide net to separate fact from fiction when it comes to crustaceans and muscle.

Are crustaceans as a protein source worth shelling out a little more money?
"Are crustaceans as a protein source worth shelling out a little more money?"

Reason No. 1 Crustaceans Are Low In Fat

When you're hunting (or fishing) for a new protein source, it'd better be lean. You don't want loads of saturated fat along with your protein. That would put you at risk of heart disease and wreck the exterior of your physique as well.

Great news here: By and large, crustaceans are entirely or nearly fat free. For example, one lobster tail contains 35 grams of protein as part of its 200 calories, but a mere 2.5 grams of fat, none of it saturated.

Opt for 4 ounces of crab instead, and you're looking at just 1.7 grams of fat and 21.9 grams of protein per 110-calorie serving.

Shrimp earns top marks as far as dietary fat is concerned as it's virtually fat free and 100-percent pure protein.

Reason No. 2 Crustaceans Are High In Iron

For many of you following a strict fat-loss diet, red meat won't make the grade very often. It's too calorie dense to find its way into a strict cutting regimen.

Unfortunately, this means you're likely to fall short in iron, a key nutrient needed to maintain proper energy levels.

Luckily, a 4-ounce serving of shrimp will supply roughly 25 percent of your total daily iron requirement. So it's a very easy way to boost your intake of this nutrient while staying low calorie and fat free.

Lobster and crab also contain iron as well, so if shrimp isn't your preference, any of the crustaceans will get the job done.

In addition to providing lots of iron, crabmeat is also great source of calcium. If you're cutting out dairy products from your diet, this crafty crustacean can help make up the shortfall.

Choosing shrimp over red meat will get you the iron you need without overloading the calories.
"Choosing shrimp over red meat will get you the iron you need without overloading the calories."

Reason No. 3 Crustaceans Don't Have To Cost An Arm And A Leg

When shifting your protein choices away from land animals, you must choose wisely. Otherwise, while your physique is growing more muscular, you wallet will slim down fast.

Seafood does typically come with a heftier price tag, so watch for local sales and stock up when they hit. Shrimp, crab, and lobster can all be frozen after purchase and used at a later date.

That said, never sacrifice price for freshness. Choose crustaceans that have been sitting in the grocery store just a little too long, and not only will their taste suffer, but you may end up suffering from food poisoning as well.

While chicken is typically standard wherever you purchase it, this isn't always the case as far as seafood is concerned. Get to know a few of the fresh seafood markets in your city. Find one you like? Stick with it.

Reason No. 4 Crustaceans Have A Lot Of Cholesterol-But It's Not A Deal Breaker

Another reason why some people may choose to opt away from adding crustaceans to their diet is the cholesterol content. They are on the high side. Four ounces of shrimp contain 220 milligrams of cholesterol, 4 ounces of crab contain 60 mg, and one lobster tail contains 120 mg.

But, as noted, these foods are also very low in fat (containing virtually no saturated fat), and the fats they do contain are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. That more than offsets the cholesterol then contain.

Those who are battling very high cholesterol levels may want to speak to their doctor before consuming vast quantities of crustaceans in their diet. But if you're a healthy individual with no concerns over your cholesterol level, adding it to your diet is perfectly acceptable.

Reason No. 5 The High Sodium Content Can Be Offset

The last point that you may want to consider about crustaceans-and another factor that may keep some people from choosing them-is their high sodium content.

Crab especially ranks high, at more than 1,200 mg of sodium per 4-oz serving. Shrimp and lobster have far lower levels-250 and 120 mg per serving, respectively.

The thing to remember here is that some sodium is part of a healthy diet, and it can help you keep your workout intensity up. Those individuals who are trying too hard to reduce the sodium content of their diet may begin to suffer from low blood pressure. This may cause them to begin feeling light-headed and weak when exercising.

Avoiding sodium too long can cause you to feel light-headed and weak.
"Avoiding sodium too long can cause you to feel light-headed and weak."

It's important that you do keep an eye out for your sodium intake. If you're eating crab that day, make sure your other choices are lower in sodium. Past that, drink a bit of extra water when having this meal. If you do that, and you're healthy to begin with, you should be fine.

So next time you can't quite stand the thought of yet another grilled chicken breast or scrambled egg white omelette, consider crustaceans. They taste great and will supply your body with plenty of nutrients it needs.