Food With High Protein Content

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Proteins are essential for good health. Food With High Protein Content. A diet rich in protein can aid in overall recovery, weight management, injury prevention, and even support healthy bones. A common misconception is that you need to avoid carbohydrates to increase protein intake. In reality, there are a variety of different options available to meet your daily protein requirement.

The Complete High Protein Food List {printable with calories}

Eating sufficient protein can help with weight loss while preserving muscle. Print this high protein food list for your fridge or notebook today and get new ideas for dietary protein.

Getting older, and becoming the old lady on the bikini stage, I’ve been consuming more protein. I recently wrote about my top 25 protein foods I eat the most here.

But, I thought a more comprehensive list would be fun to make, organized by how many grams of protein you get when weights are equal (100 grams).

What is protein?

Proteins are large molecules found in living cells. Proteins are like building blocks to build tissues in the human body, such as muscle tissue, bones, blood, and even hormones.

Proteins function as enzymes, antibodies, and they assist in maintaining fluid balance.

Why protein should be included in your diet

While our bodies are capable of making certain amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, there are are others, called essential amino acids, that can only be obtained through food.

Because our bodies are constantly turning over tissue, new proteins are needed to replace degraded existing proteins. Cell growth, repair, and maintenance all require protein.

Eating protein containing foods will consistently be used to replace old tissue, such as skin tissue, with new tissue made by the new proteins. (see how I meal prep for my high protein foods here)

How much protein do you need in a day

The number one question I get on this blog is how much protein do we need. The answer is, if you are eating adequate energy, meaning your calories are enough to maintain your weight), than it’s likely you do not need to worry about the amount of protein you are consuming.

Most foods, even vegetables, contain some amount of protein, so if you are consuming adequate calories, you probably have enough protein.

With that said, the amount of protein you might want to get in your diet, can move towards depends on your goals.

For the average adult however, 1.0-1.6 grams of protein per kg of body weight is a general guideline. Converted to pounds, this means, if you are 100 lbs, you would thrive consuming approximately 50-70 grams of protein per day.

I am close to 100 lbs, and lift some pretty heavy weights. So I’ve chosen to eat more protein, although it isn’t necessary. I’ve increased this amount to 1 gram of protein per pound (so 100 grams of protein per day for me).

What foods are the best source of protein

Ideally, consuming proteins from a variety of sources is the best strategy. When you vary your protein, you are able to get a wide range of nutrients that assist your body in using the protein. (grab this high protein meal plan for ideas on getting variety!)

If you are counting calories however, the proteins with the lowest calories are the foods where there aren’t other macronutrients, such as carbs or fat. For example, nuts have more calories per gram of protein because it also comes with fats. Milk will have more calories per gram of protein because it has carbohydrates in addition to protein.

Lean meats, where there is virtually little fat or carbs, will have the most protein per calorie.

Below you’ll find a full list of calories plus grams of protein for each high protein item listed! Print it here or bookmark this page.

List of protein foods with calories

All the data for grams of protein and calories I searched on the USDA database here. It’s the most comprehensive and trustworthy list I’ve found. If there is a food not on my list, head over to the database and use the search feature.

high protien food list with calories and grams of protein
Protein Rich foodsProteinCaloriesMeasurentTypical Serving
Almond butter21 grams614 calories100 grams2 tablespoons = 7 grams protein
Almonds21 grams579 calories100 grams1 ounce = 6 grams protein
Bacon (cooked)37 grams541 calories100 grams1 slice – 3 grams protein
Beans (cooked legumes)8.7 grams127 calories100 grams1/2 cup = 7 grams protein
Beef, ground (cooked 95% lean)27 grams174 calories100 grams3 ounces = 23 grams protein
Beef, steak (sirloin)27 grams244 calories100 grams3 ounces = 23 grams protein
Cashew18 grams553 calories100 gram1 ounce = 5 grams protein
Chia seeds17 grams486 calories100 grams1 ounce = 4.7 grams protein
Chicken breasts31 grams165 calories100 grams4 ounces = 36 grams protein
Chicken thighs24 grams177 calories100 grams4 ounces = 28 grams protein
Cottage cheese (2%)12 grams86 calories100 grams1/2 cup = 13 grams protein
Edamame (cooked)11 grams122 calories100 grams1 cup = 17 grams protein
Egg whites11 grams52 calories100 grams1 large = 3.6 grams protein
Eggs13 gram143 calories100 grams1 large = 6 grams protein
Fish, Cod18 grams82 calories100 grams3 ounce = 15 grams protein
Fish, halibut (cooked)23 grams111 calories100 grams3 ounce = 19 grams protein
Fish, salmon (cooked)24 grams178 caloires100 grams3 ounce = 21 grams protein
Fish, Tilapia26 grams129 calories100 grams3 ounce = 22 grams
Greek Yogurt nonfat (varies by brand)10 grams87 calories100 grams1 cup = 24 grams protein
Hemp seeds30 grams567 calories100 grams3 tablespoons (30 g) = 9 grams protein
Hummus (varies by brand or recipe)7 grams250 calories100 grams2 tablespoons = 2 grams of protein
Peanut butter22 grams598 calories100 grams2 tablespoons = 7 grams protein
Peanuts25 grams607 calories100 grams1 ounce = 7 grams protein
Pine nuts14 grams673 calories100 grams1 ounce = 4 grams protein
Pork chops (lean, cooked)21 grams280 calories100 grams3 ounces = 18 grams protein
Pork, tenderloin27 grams154 calories100 grams3 ounces = 22 grams protein
Protein Powder (whey)78 grams338 calories100 grams38 grams (1 scoop) = 30 grams protein
pumpkin seeds19 grams446 calories100 grams1 ounce = 5 grams protein
Refried beans5 grams92 calories100 grams1/2 cup = 7 grams protein
Ricotta Cheese (part skim)11 grams138 calories100 grams1/2 cup = 14 grams protein
Shrimp (cooked)24 grams99 calories100 grams3 ounces = 19 grams protein
Sunflower seeds21 grams584 calories100 grams1/4 cup = 6 grams protein
Tempeh19 grams193 calories100 grams1 cup = 31 grams protein
Tofu8 grams76 calories100 grams1/2 cup = 10 grams protein
Tuna28 grams132 calories100 grams3 ounces = 24 grams protein
Turkey breast29 grams189 calories100 grams3 ounces = 26 grams protein
Turkey, deli meat18 grams98 calories100 grams4 ounces = 20 grams protein
Turkey, ground (93% lean)19.5 grams141 calories100 grams3 ounces = 16.5 grams protein
Yogurt (lowfat, plain)6 grams70 calories100 grams1 cup = 11 grams

These 50 High-Protein Foods Will Help You Hit Your Macros

High-protein, low-fat foods seem to be a common trend these days, promising to help you to both fat and gain muscle.

But just because protein is in a lot of foods, doesn’t always mean they are a great (or even adequate) source of it. Let’s take a look at what makes a quality protein food, and which choices can maximize your health benefits and help you smash your fitness goals.

How to Find High-Protein Foods

Protein is a macronutrient that’s made up of varying combinations of amino acids and can be found in nearly all types of food.

There are actually hundreds of thousands of different types of protein, which are made up of amino acids. But luckily, only those containing the nine essential amino acids are vital for us to eat.

Proteins are considered high-quality when they provide the amino acids that you need to function every day. When a food item contains all of the essential amino acids we need, it’s called a complete protein. Complete proteins are found in meat or animal products like eggs and dairy. 

When two different foods combined meet all of our essential amino acid needs, they’re called complementary proteins. 

While the most common source of protein intake is from meat, fish, and animal-based products like milk, eggs, and dairy, protein can also be found in plants and grains.

Determining the Best Quality Proteins for You

Protein is essential for our bodies. Being thoughtful about which proteins you choose to include in your meal plan can help you optimize your health and fitness goals. 

With an endless array of food companies advertising the impressive protein content and health benefits of their products to appeal to consumers, learning who can be trusted and which products are actually worth your dollars can feel like a challenge.

Just because something contains protein does not automatically mean that it’s good for you. And just because a food label is advertising “a good source of protein” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.Legally, any food that contains at least 10 grams of protein per serving can be labeled as an “excellent source” (per FDA guidelines). (A good source would contain 5 grams or more.)

But this advertising law does not consider the other nutrients or total calories of the food, which give you a much more well-rounded picture of whether the item is worth eating. So when it comes to finding the best proteins on the market you’ll want to consider the following:

  1. Your total calorie needs
  2. Protein density
  3. Overall nutrition

Here’s your go-to guide for finding the most balanced options.

Know Your Total Calorie Goals

Eating more protein is thought to support fat loss, muscle gain, and improved health in a number of different ways, but if you aren’t eating the right amount of calories, protein intake isn’t going to make much difference.

In other words, the first step in evaluating your food choices is calorie content. Learn how many calories you need to eat each day, and then find foods that help you hit that goal consistently.

The easiest way to determine if a meal or snack is the right calorie fit is to plan out your day in advance.

Take your total calorie needs and divide that number by the typical number of meals you have each day. If you need 2,000 calories and eat three times a day, you’d need roughly 600 calories per meal (with 200 calories to spare).

Then, use any remaining calories to account for snacks and wiggle room as needed. Use this amount to judge whether that high-protein food is actually benefiting your overall diet. 

Calculate Protein Density

Calories have to be considered in your diet plan, so it’s worth paying attention to how many grams of protein per calorie you are actually getting from your choices. You can figure this out by calculating the protein density. 

Each macro provides a different amount of calories per gram, and foods that contain more of their calories from protein compared to other macros are more protein-dense. 

One gram of protein provides roughly four calories.

So, take a look at your nutrition labels. Multiply the grams of protein by four and then divide by total calories to calculate the percent of protein density.

Without a doubt, animal protein sources (meat, fish, eggs, and dairy) are going to provide the most grams of protein per calorie. (Plants just can’t compare to meat when it comes to protein density.) 

For comparison sake, meat, fish, and low-fat dairy will get you roughly 70% or more of your calories from protein, whereas high-fat options like peanut butter provide only 17%, and high-carb options like quinoa provide only 14%. 

Of course, this is not to say that nut butters and whole grains are bad. They just aren’t as protein-dense as other foods. When looking at the protein content of your nutrition choices, you can follow the rule of tens.

For the most nutrient-dense choices, look for at least 10 grams for every 100 calories. 

Evaluate Overall Nutrition and Health Benefits

The type of protein you eat also matters, and good nutrition is about more than hitting your daily macro goals. You should also be considering the essential nutrients that the food may or may not provide, along with less desirable components like saturated fat, trans fat, and added sugar.

Each type of protein can vary widely in the nutrients and potential health benefits it provides. Meat and poultry can contain some saturated fat, but they also provide iron, zinc, and B vitamins.

Fish and seafood contain healthy omega-3 fats, and can also increase your intake of zinc, iodine, vitamin D, and magnesium, while plant-based protein can include fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and more.

Including a variety of protein options is your best bet for getting the most well-rounded nutrition. 

50 Good Protein Sources to Try

Ultimately, the best protein sources provide high amounts of protein and beneficial nutrients per calorie. 

This includes the following:

  • 12 pure protein foods
  • 12 lean proteins

These options are your best bet to hit your daily protein macro goals and achieve higher protein intake regularly. 

However, there are still some serious benefits to other proteins that provide a mixed-macro ratio. While they may not be the most protein-dense overall, they can still contribute to greater nutritional and health benefits. 

Not to mention, your overall diet is not designed to be pure protein, and finding macro-balanced foods and meals that match your nutritional needs is an efficient way to get better balance overall. This is especially true forvegans and plant-based eaters who rely on plant-based proteins that tend to also be a source of fat or carbohydrates. 

Here are 26 additional good protein sources to consider: 

  • 8 proteins that are high in healthy fats
  • 10 high-carb proteins
  • 8 protein supplements

12 Pure Protein Foods

Certain foods are so rich in protein content that they come pretty close to being considered pure protein in our diet. This mainly includes white fish, shellfish, and some game meats.

The options below are packed with protein — with little to no carbohydrates or fat — making them great options to boost your protein for the day without adding extra calories or unwanted carbs.

Pure proteins include the following: 

  1. Venison
  2. Halibut
  3. Skinless Chicken Breast
  4. Tilapia
  5. Haddock
  6. Tuna
  7. Cod
  8. Crab
  9. Shrimp
  10. Basa
  11. Red Snapper
  12. Egg Whites
Pure Proteins

12 Lean Proteins

Lean proteins are essentially protein options that are lower in fat. This matters because fat is calorically dense (9 calories per gram) and can add a significant amount of calories to your food choices if you aren’t paying attention. 

When looking at animal proteins in specific, opting for lean is also a way to cut out more saturated fat from your diet, with the exception of fatty fish that provides a valuable source of omega-3 fatty acids. Increased intakes of saturated fat may contribute to increased risk factors for heart disease.

Some of the best sources of lean proteins include low-fat and fat-free dairy, skinless poultry, grass-fed meat, game meat, and a few low-carb, plant-based foods. 

Here are 12 lean options to reach for:

  1. Lean Beef
  2. Bison
  3. Seitan 
  4. Lean Pork 
  5. Lamb (certain cuts)
  6. Edamame
  7. Fat-Free/Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
  8. Skinless Chicken Thigh
  9. Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
  10. Tofu
  11. Turkey
  12. Low-Fat Cheese
Lean Protein foods

8 Proteins High in Healthy Fats

Even though they aren’t as protein-dense or often as low in calories, nutritionally speaking, higher-fat proteins can be just as good for you as low-fat protein options. It all depends on your personal nutrition needs and dietary goals.

Because fat is more calorically-dense, you can get more calories in a smaller portion size. This is why a littlehealthy fat — like plant-based fat from nuts and seeds — can be a great addition to help add calories when trying to gain muscle. 

But this also doesn’t mean that eating high-fat foods will make you fat! Some fatty foods can be satiating, keeping your appetite in check when trying to cut calories. Fat can also slow the absorption of protein and carbs, which may be beneficial if you are looking for long-lasting energy. 

Additionally, fatty proteins from fish and plant-based sources are associated with heart health benefits, and support good nutrition overall. 

Quality proteins that are higher in fat and lower in carbs include nuts, seeds, nut butters, fatty fish, full-fat dairy, and somemeat alternatives.

High-fat proteins work especially great for keto dieters or those looking to gain muscle. 

Here are eight options to try:

  1. Mackerel 
  2. Herring
  3. Salmon
  4. Sardines 
  5. Chia Seeds 
  6. Beyond Meat
  7. Whole Eggs
  8. Peanuts
High Fat Protein foods

While many nuts and seeds may seem like they have a higher carbohydrate content at first glance, their net carbs are actually low when you consider their high-fiber content. 

10 High-Carb Proteins

Proteins that provide a source of carbohydrates include mostplant-based protein sourcesand some dairy, like milk. 

The best of these options are also rich in fiber, reducing total net carb counts and providing potential health advantages, such as supporting heart health and proper digestion.

These choices tend to work great for pre- and post-workout nutrition, as they provide a good balance of fuel and muscle support.

Here are 10 options to try: 

  1. Black Beans
  2. Lentils
  3. Green Peas
  4. Chickpeas
  5. Protein Pasta
  6. Quinoa
  7. Buckwheat
  8. Cereal
  9. Milk
  10. Soy Milk
High Carb Proteins

8 Protein Supplements

Protein supplements and protein powders are an easy way to get an extra protein boost. If you’re using protein powder for muscle-building purposes after a workout, research suggests that 20 grams or more of just about any complete protein is sufficient.

Whey, soy, and casein are often all popular choices.Casein, unlike whey, is a long-acting protein, meaning that it is absorbed more slowly over time. Some research suggests that casein may be effective in promoting muscle growth when taken before bed.

But these should be utilized as supplements, not as a replacement for a healthy meal plan. It’s recommended to get more nutrients from foods where you can.

Whole-food proteins provide more volume and might be more satiating than in liquid or powder form. In other words, you probably won’t feel as full adding a 20-gram protein scoop to your drink or food, compared to a 4-ounce portion of meat or fish.

When it comes to which is best, most options come close to pure protein, with slight variations in carb and fat content. 

For the purest protein powders, look for protein isolates without any added sugar or extra ingredients. 

Here are the eight most popular types of animal and plant-based protein powders on the market: 

  1. Whey
  2. Casein
  3. Egg
  4. Pea
  5. Hemp
  6. Soy
  7. Brown Rice
  8. Spirulina

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