Complete List of High Protein Food Sources {printable with calories!}

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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). (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.

BONUS:

  • 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 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

Protein Food FAQs 

What foods have protein?

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!

How many calories are in a gram of protein?

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.

What foods are the highest in protein?

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.

How can I increase my protein levels quickly?

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.

What vegetables are high in protein?

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.

How can I get enough protein without meat?

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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printable protein food list with calories and protein grams

New and improved printable protein list here!

list of protein foods with calories

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6 Comments

  1. My husband got to have a blood test and must not have any chicken,fish or meat the day before, but a low protein meals what can I get for his dinner ???

  2. Hi Amy,
    This is a very user friendly list, thank you! I see the only red meat is ground beef. What is your opinion of leaner cuts of red meat, like tenderloin? Do you avoid them because of the higher calorie content or do you avoid them for other reasons too? Thanks!

    1. Hi Amy!I like the ground beef because I know exactly how much fat is in it (93%/97%, etc.).Β  It’s not that I don’t eat other red meats, but I just don’t buy them often. And also, I’m terrible at cooking them! I’m taking a cooking class for meats this fall though, so that all might change soon!
      Amy

  3. Could you help me understand the List of High Protein Foods. For example, 100 grams of Almond Butter has 21g of protein and 614 calories. And the Typical Serving is 2 tablespoons = 7g protein.

    Here is where I am confused–1 tbsp = 14.3 grams. So, 2 tbsps would be 28.6g of protein not 21g.

    What is the correlation of each data point (Grams of Protein, Calories, …). Thanks

    1. Hi JohnThe 1 tablespoon=14 grams refers to the weight, and not 14g of protein.So, according to the USDA, 100grams of almond butter by weight contains 20.8 grams of protein.See that hereΒ https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2262074/nutrientsDoes that make sense?
      Amy

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