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.
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). (Skip the reading and just print the list here!)
Protein Rich Foods: what is protein?
Proteins are large molecules found in living cells. They act 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 Food with 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.
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 Food 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. (source)
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 Protein Sources?
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!) (source)
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. You can learn more about this in the article on Nutrition for Fitness.
Top 10 Protein Food Sources
I want to highlight the top 10 protein food sources you can eat to get the nutrients your body needs. When I say “Top 10 Protein Food Sources” I mean the foods that give you the lowest ratio of calories to protein for 100 grams. These are the foods that allow you to enjoy the most protein for the fewest calories.
1. Cooked Shrimp
This one may come as a shock, but cooked shrimp actually has the lowest number of calories per gram of protein! With shrimp having very little fat or carbs, each gram of shrimp is only 4.1 calories!
2. Whey Protein Powder
The nice thing about whey protein is that it comes in a variety of flavors and price points. If you’re trying to find a protein powder that you’ll love, click here to read about my top 3 favorite protein powder brands.
3. Cod Fish
If I am being totally honest, I don’t eat fish all that often. However, maybe I should learn to make cod, since it is actually lower calorie than salmon, available year round, and includes a variety of vitamins.
4. Tuna Fish
Tuna is one of the more mild flavored, cheap fishes that you can purchase. Whether you buy it fresh or get it canned, tuna is a great source of complete proteins.
5. Egg Whites
I eat egg whites EVERY DAY! They are a great source of protein for starting your day with a boost of energy. Check out my egg white oatmeal, breakfast sandwich, souffle pancakes, and oreo protein shake. You don’t have to love scrambled eggs to incorporate this ingredient into your diet!
6. Halibut Fish
Halibut contains vitamins and minerals that promote brain health, proper digestion, and reduced stress. It is a great source of protein, and tastes great too!
7. Tilapia Fish
Similar to tuna, tilapia tends to have a more moderate fishy flavor. With little fat, most of its calories come from protein. You can easily turn this heart-healthy seafood into a balanced meal with some rice and a cooked vegetable.
8. Chicken Breast
Chicken breasts are a personal favorite of mine. Since chicken is a lean protein that tends to also be budget friendly, this is an ingredient I use a LOT in my kitchen.
9. Turkey Deli Meat
Turkey lunch meat is great for packing in an on-the-go lunch or even as a substitute for bacon in the morning. While lunch meat does tend to have a higher sodium volume than other protein sources (you don’t want to much salt!), it is a great food for packing in protein.
10. Pork Tenderloin
While different cuts of meat contain different fat and protein contents, pork tenderloin offers a high volume of protein with little fat. And, you can always slow cook it for a few hours to remove even more fat.
- Best kind of Vegetarian Protein Food Source: Egg Whites and Whey Protein Powder
- Best kind of Plant Based (Vegan) Protein Food Source: Tofu
Complete List of High 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.
|Protein Rich foods||Protein||Calories||Measurent||Typical Serving|
|Almond butter||21 grams||614 calories||100 grams||2 tablespoons = 7 grams protein|
|Almonds||21 grams||579 calories||100 grams||1 ounce = 6 grams protein|
|Bacon (cooked)||37 grams||541 calories||100 grams||1 slice – 3 grams protein|
|Beans (cooked legumes)||8.7 grams||127 calories||100 grams||1/2 cup = 7 grams protein|
|Beef, ground (cooked 95% lean)||27 grams||174 calories||100 grams||3 ounces = 23 grams protein|
|Beef, steak (sirloin)||27 grams||244 calories||100 grams||3 ounces = 23 grams protein|
|Cashew||18 grams||553 calories||100 gram||1 ounce = 5 grams protein|
|Chia seeds||17 grams||486 calories||100 grams||1 ounce = 4.7 grams protein|
|Chicken breasts||31 grams||165 calories||100 grams||4 ounces = 36 grams protein|
|Chicken thighs||24 grams||177 calories||100 grams||4 ounces = 28 grams protein|
|Cottage cheese (2%)||12 grams||86 calories||100 grams||1/2 cup = 13 grams protein|
|Edamame (cooked)||11 grams||122 calories||100 grams||1 cup = 17 grams protein|
|Egg whites||11 grams||52 calories||100 grams||1 large = 3.6 grams protein|
|Eggs||13 gram||143 calories||100 grams||1 large = 6 grams protein|
|Fish, Cod||18 grams||82 calories||100 grams||3 ounce = 15 grams protein|
|Fish, halibut (cooked)||23 grams||111 calories||100 grams||3 ounce = 19 grams protein|
|Fish, salmon (cooked)||24 grams||178 caloires||100 grams||3 ounce = 21 grams protein|
|Fish, Tilapia||26 grams||129 calories||100 grams||3 ounce = 22 grams|
|Greek Yogurt nonfat (varies by brand)||10 grams||87 calories||100 grams||1 cup = 24 grams protein|
|Hemp seeds||30 grams||567 calories||100 grams||3 tablespoons (30 g) = 9 grams protein|
|Hummus (varies by brand or recipe)||7 grams||250 calories||100 grams||2 tablespoons = 2 grams of protein|
|Peanut butter||22 grams||598 calories||100 grams||2 tablespoons = 7 grams protein|
|Peanuts||25 grams||607 calories||100 grams||1 ounce = 7 grams protein|
|Pine nuts||14 grams||673 calories||100 grams||1 ounce = 4 grams protein|
|Pork chops (lean, cooked)||21 grams||280 calories||100 grams||3 ounces = 18 grams protein|
|Pork, tenderloin||27 grams||154 calories||100 grams||3 ounces = 22 grams protein|
|Protein Powder (whey)||78 grams||338 calories||100 grams||38 grams (1 scoop) = 30 grams protein|
|pumpkin seeds||19 grams||446 calories||100 grams||1 ounce = 5 grams protein|
|Refried beans||5 grams||92 calories||100 grams||1/2 cup = 7 grams protein|
|Ricotta Cheese (part skim)||11 grams||138 calories||100 grams||1/2 cup = 14 grams protein|
|Shrimp (cooked)||24 grams||99 calories||100 grams||3 ounces = 19 grams protein|
|Sunflower seeds||21 grams||584 calories||100 grams||1/4 cup = 6 grams protein|
|Tempeh||19 grams||193 calories||100 grams||1 cup = 31 grams protein|
|Tofu||8 grams||76 calories||100 grams||1/2 cup = 10 grams protein|
|Tuna||28 grams||132 calories||100 grams||3 ounces = 24 grams protein|
|Turkey breast||29 grams||189 calories||100 grams||3 ounces = 26 grams protein|
|Turkey, deli meat||18 grams||98 calories||100 grams||4 ounces = 20 grams protein|
|Turkey, ground (93% lean)||19.5 grams||141 calories||100 grams||3 ounces = 16.5 grams protein|
|Yogurt (lowfat, plain)||6 grams||70 calories||100 grams||1 cup = 11 grams|
Protein Food FAQs
Most foods contain at least some protein in them. However, the quantity and quality of protein available in food varies. Some foods such as meat, seafood, and dairy products tend to have more protein than other food categories such as fruits and vegetables.
My high protein food list will help you to identify foods that have higher levels of protein that you can include in your diet to feel happy and healthy!
Both protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram of food. Fat on the other hand has 9 calories per gram.
– For example, you could have 20 grams of protein in chicken and 20 grams of protein in lentils. In both foods, the 20 grams of protein would result in 80 calories worth of protein. The difference in their calorie counts would come from the various amounts of carbs, fat, and other nutrients included in the food.
As you can see from my top 10 list, the foods with the highest protein tend to come from the meat and seafood categories. However, there are still other great dairy and plant based options.
If you want to increase your protein levels quickly, eat a food with lots of protein that your body can digest quickly. This means that you want foods that are low in fiber and fat. Foods such as light, flaky fishes, chicken, tofu, and eggs can all quickly increase your protein levels.
Most of the vegetables that are high in protein are a deep green color. Vegetables such as edamame, peas, spinach, artichoke, asparagus, and kale are all great options of vegetables to eat with higher protein.
Note: Even the vegetables with the highest amount of protein in them are still much lower in comparison with the other meat or legume options. Because of this, you will want to get your protein from a variety of sources.
Because every body is different, the nutrients your body needs will be different too. Here I have a personal calorie calculator you can use to determine how much protein your body needs each day for weight loss, weight maintenance, or even bulking.
Once you know how many grams of protein you need to consume each day, you can create a meal plan to go along with it. My suggestion is to include high protein non-meat ingredients such as whey protein, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, egg whites, and tofu into your diet.
Print this high protein food list here!
NEXT – > Grab the printable list of vegetables here!
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New and improved printable protein list here!