27 Best high protein foods
If you want to lose weight or to gain muscles, you must consume high protein foods. Which foods are considered high protein foods?
Table of Contents
Proteins are large, complex molecules: there are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein. Our bodies are made up of thousands of different proteins, each with a specific function. They make up the structural components of our cells and tissues, enzymes, and hormones.
Protein is one of the essential micronutrients for your body to function properly. We must eat dietary protein for our body’s amino acid needs since our body can’t produce nor store it itself.
Health benefits of protein intake
- Boosts metabolism and fat burning
- Boosts energy
- Build and repair muscles and strength
- Good for bone health
- Helps the body to repair after injury
- Helps to lower blood pressure
- Increase satiety and reduces appetite
Daily recommended protein intake
This is just genetic numbers since it varies depending on your sex, age, diet, activity levels, etc. You generally need anywhere from 0.8 to 1.3 g per kg of your bodyweight of protein every day.
|School-age kids||19-34 g|
|Teenagers: M / F||52 g and 46 g, respectively|
|Adults: M / F||56 g and 46 gr, respectively|
Undertake of protein
The signs of protein deficiency:
- You feel tired often. Metabolic functions also depend on amino acid intake.
- You often feel anxious and moody. Protein contains amino acids that control your mood.
- You experience a lack of focus and concentration. Inadequate protein means decreased neurotransmitters that help improve your concentration levels.
- Your workouts are not great. Protein is required to sustain your energy for workouts.
- You are unable to sleep well. Protein helps in the production of serotonin, low levels of which can cause sleep issues.
- You have high cholesterol despite following a proper diet. Cholesterol levels also rise due to hormonal imbalances and increased inflammation, which can be treated with adequate protein intake.
- Your menstrual cycle is irregular. This caused by a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). (It is, in a way, related to protein deficiency.)
- You get injured often and are slow to heal. Protein is bodybuilding food. Its deficiency can slow down the healing process.
Over intake of protein
- Bad breath
- Calcium loss
- Heart disease
- Increasing cancer risk
- Kidney damage
- Weight gain
27 best high protein foods
You see many high-protein diets: Keto, Atkins, the Zone, Paleo… Though consuming a high amount of protein can be beneficial for many people, most of us already get about 15% of the calories from protein – more than enough to prevent deficiency.
However, certain people could benefit from high protein – up to 25–30% of calories. If you want to lose weight, to gain more muscles/strength or to improve metabolic health, you should consume high protein foods.
Which foods are high protein foods?
31 g of protein with 165 calories/100g
Chicken is a lean protein, inexpensive, versatile and rich in nutrients: protein, phosphorus, selenium, and niacin. White meats are better high protein foods than red meats.
Ground Beef (93% lean)
24 g per 4 oz serving and 172 calories
Ground beef is surprisingly considered as a high protein food. Ground beef offers important vitamins and minerals: protein, carnitine, zinc, selenium, iron, and B vitamins.
However, ground beef can be high in calories and saturated fat, and a high intake of red meat can lead to health risks. Consume it in moderation and get a leaner version from grass-fed cows.
25 g per 100 g serving and 294 calories
Just like beef, lamb is one of the highest protein foods. It also provides vitamins B12, iron, zinc, CLA, and omega-3 thanks to all the grazing on pasture lamb do.
Beef Skirt Steak
26 g per 100g serving and 220 calories
Beef is one of the most nutrient-dense foods offering protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Try to get leaner beef as your choice of high protein food.
Pork loin chop
24 g per 100 g serving and 231 calories
While the fattier cuts offer a better taste, opting for a leaner cut maximizes the protein content. The leaner the cut, the more concentrated its healthy properties. The leanest cut of pork, the tenderloin, which is as lean as a skinless chicken breast.
As you get into fattier cuts and cured pork products like bacon and sausage, you decrease the benefits while adding on the calories, saturated fat, and sodium.
An 8oz pork chop provides around 53 g of dietary protein, B vitamins, phosphorus, and selenium.
22 g of protein with 157 calories/100 g
A great alternative to red meat. Like other poultry, turkey breast is one of the highest protein foods. Turkey is rich in several vitamins and minerals, particularly selenium and the B vitamin group. Also niacin, choline, selenium, and zinc.
While dark meat has more vitamins and minerals, it has more fat and calories than white meat.
33 g per 100 g serving and 410 calories
As a dehydrated (and more concentrated) version of beef, jerky has a high protein density and provides B vitamins, iron, and zinc.
21 g per 100 g serving and 157 calories
Funny thing is, Canadian bacon doesn’t actually come from Canada. In fact, it’s only called so in the US. In Canada, this is referred to as “back bacon” or “peameal bacon.”
Canadian bacon is cut from the pork loin (or behind the shoulder) and has much less fat and fewer calories than regular bacon (cut from the fatty belly). Canadian bacon usually comes in rounded slices that are already cured and fully cooked and it tastes more like ham, while regular bacon is smoked and comes raw.
It provides enough protein and vitamin D.
29 g per 100 g serving and 210 calories
Anchovies are small, common saltwater forage fish in the family Engraulidae, oily fish with more than 140 species. Anchovies are best eaten fresh as canned anchovies contain a high amount of sodium.
They are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, and selenium with few calories.
Though it’s recommended to limit the consumption due to mercury, it is unlikely to accumulate significant levels (because it is a small fish with a short life span).
17.9 g per 100 g serving and 82 calories
Cod is a common, affordable, mild-flavored fish with a good nutrition profile. Cod is the name of the Gadus genus of fish that feed on or near the bottom of seas or lakes. The most common species of cod are Atlantic cod and Pacific cod.
Cod provides protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, B, C, D, and E. Pacific cod is lower in calories compared to Atlantic cod. Cod might be healthier than salmon, considering calories and saturated fat content. However, if you focus on increasing folate and good fats, then salmon might be a better choice.
22 g per 100 g serving and 111 calories
Halibut is a complete protein that has all 9 essential amino acids that the body can’t produce on its own, so they need to be ingested. Halibut offers high in protein with low in calories, B12, B6, B3, potassium, selenium, and phosphorus, magnesium, zero carbohydrates, and sugar.
19 g per 100 g serving and 262 calories
Mackerel offers essential fatty acids, omega-3, vitamins D and selenium, and protein.
The flesh of mackerel spoils quickly and can cause scombroid food poisoning. Eat on the day of capture, unless they are properly refrigerated or cured (Mackerel preservation is not simple).
22 g per 100 g serving and 131 calories
Various Pacific salmon: sockeye, Coho, Pink and King (Chinook) to choose from.
Salmon is high in protein, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and vitamin B12.
Fish oil, a product of salmon and other fish, is one of the primary food items that are effective for depression.
25 g per 100 g serving and 208 calories (canned)
The sardine is a member of the Clupeidae family: herring, and at least 18 different species like sardines or pilchards. Sardines are completely different fish from anchovies!
While sardines can be enjoyed fresh, they are highly perishable. This is the reason why you often see them in canned form.
Sardines are one of the healthiest seafood: iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12 (more than 100% of the DV per 100 g), omega-3, calcium, minerals, and protein.
20.3 g per 100 g serving and 99 calories
Shrimp is one of the most commonly consumed types of shellfish. Amongst other nutrients, shrimp provides a rare food source of vitamin D, selenium, and some omega-3 fatty acids, astaxanthin antioxidants, and high-quality protein low in calories. It doesn’t contain fat, but it contains almost 85% more than the amount of cholesterol in other types of seafood like tuna.
26 g per 100 g serving and 129 calories
Tilapia is a cheap common fish with mild-flavor and ideal for farming. It is rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids (though 10 times less than wild salmon), niacin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium, and potassium.
Limit farmed fish in China due to the use of animal feces and banned chemicals.
28 g per 100 g serving and 132 calories
Tuna is a source of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, B6, and B12.
Tuna is widely available in canned form, which is cheap and convenient. It helps to improve heart health, lower blood pressure, improve the immune system and skin health, helps weight loss, provides energy, and prevent the risks of cancer.
17 g per 1 oz serving and 99 calories
Dried squid is very popular in Hawaii, East Asia, and Russia.
It offers quite an amount of protein. However, due to the high amount of inorganic arsenic and the preservative benzoic acid, it’s considered unhealthy.
25 g per 100 g serving and 402 calories
Like many kinds of cheese, cheddar contains zero carbohydrates: no fiber, no sugars. It offers high in protein, calcium, vitamin A, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and riboflavin.
It is calorie-dense, which increases its satiation helping weight loss. Cheddar is among the harder, aged cheeses that are actually quite low in lactose. If you want to cut down on salt, avoid cheddar since it is relatively high in sodium.
22 g per 100 g serving and 364 calories
Goat cheese comes in varieties in flavors and textures, from soft and spreadable fresh cheese to salty, crumbly aged cheese. Versatile goat cheese provides high protein, healthy fats, calcium, phosphorus, copper, selenium, magnesium, and niacin.
Though it’s gone through the same process as cow’s milk cheese, goat cheese differs in nutrient content and is digested differently than cow’s milk. Goat cheese is a hypoallergenic alternative for those allergic to cheese made from cows.
Goat’s milk is higher in short- and medium-chain fatty acids than cow’s milk. They are digested rapidly providing an immediate energy source, leading to increased feelings of satiety (good for weight loss).
30 g per 100 g serving and 413 calories
Unlike most commercial cheese products, Gruyère uses unpasteurized raw milk.
The taste and texture of Gruyère depend on the level of aging: While a young one tastes buttery with a sweet and nutty flavor, and is firm yet still smooth. Aged one has a sharper taste with a harder and flakier texture.
It is a good melting cheese, particularly suited for fondues, along with Vacherin Fribourgeois and Emmental.
Swiss cheese contains 30% more protein than an egg in one slice, Omega-3 fatty acids, plus 1/3 of your RDA of vitamin A, K2, B12, B2, and calcium. Probiotics found in Swiss cheeses such as Emmental and Gruyère could help reduce inflammation, improve the aging effects, and subsequently boost immunity.
Non-fat cottage cheese
15 g per 1 cup serving and 100 calories
The CDC recommends it for weight control since it is a low-energy-density-food with low calories. Low in sugar and carbohydrates, it provides high in calcium, protein, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and folate.
Non-Fat Mozzarella Cheese
36 g per 4 oz serving (shredded) and 168 calories
Mozzarella is traditionally made from the milk of Italian buffalo raised in specific regions of Italy, including Campania around Naples. However, authenticity comes at a high price.
It’s packed full of calcium, phosphorus, and protein.
35.8 g per 100 g serving and 431 calories
“Parmesan” is the English name for the cheese, and the original Italian name is Parmigiano-Reggiano. Parmigiano-Reggiano is made using unpasteurized raw cow’s milk from grass-fed cows.
Parmesan is one of the highest protein foods in the world, and it provides protein, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium.
27 g per 100 g serving and 380 calories
Low in fat and sodium, it is one of the healthiest cheese choices overall providing calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and B12.
- Greek yogurt, fat-free, vanilla, has 23 g of protein and 207 calories/8 oz
- Plain yogurt, low fat, has 14 g of protein and 137 calories/8 oz
Yogurt helps to reduce hunger, increase fullness, and delay subsequent eating as compared to lower protein snacks in healthy women.
The primary difference between regular and Greek yogurt is that Greek yogurt is made by straining out the extra whey in regular yogurt, resulting in a thicker, tangier, and creamier substance.
Which is the healthier choice? Regular yogurt has twice the amount of calcium and potassium, but it also has twice the amount of sodium, carbohydrates, and sugar. Both have protein and probiotics, which keep the gut healthy.
In regular yogurt, the plain flavor is a healthier choice as flavored yogurts contain extra sugar. To sweeten plain yogurt, add fresh fruit or honey. Yogurt can be used as a healthier choice when cooking by replacing it for other ingredients when baking, such as butter, oil, shortening, milk, or sour cream.
It’ll be a long list, so check here for all the plant-based vegan protein sources.
- Plant-based meat substitutes
- Pseudocereals (Non-Cereal Grain)
Eggs are versatile and inexpensive sources of protein, carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. The amount of protein and calories in eggs varies depending on the cooking methods.
One large egg:
- Hard-boiled, has 6 g of protein and 78 calories
- Fried in butter, has 6 g of protein and 94 calories
- Scrambled with butter, has 7 g of protein and 107 calories
Egg whites, containing 4 g of protein with 17 calories, are a good source of the amino acid leucine aiding weight loss.
Why Is High Protein Low Calorie Food Important?
Protein and calories are both a valuable part of any diet. The body needs protein to function properly. The body also needs calories for energy, as without them, its cells would not survive.
How many calories one needs to consume on a daily basis vary from person to person. Depending on your goal (weight loss or weight gain), your activity levels, age, and body fat percentage, you need to decide on a healthy calorie plan. Then follow it to achieve your goals.
Low-calorie high-protein foods are much in demand lately, with the growth of the number of people who want to lose weight and build lean muscle.
Consuming higher amounts can help to improve satiety supporting weight loss, protect against bone/muscle loss, and build muscle.
Many of these options are animal foods such as dairy and meat. It is all about the absolute highest dietary sources of the nutrient.
High protein low-calorie foods
- Turkey breast (22 g of protein with 157 calories/100 g)
- Chicken breast (31 g of protein with 165 calories/100 g)
- Lean ground beef (41 g of protein with 332 calories/100 g)
- Bison (27 g of protein with 170 calories/100 g)
- Duck (28 g of protein with 175 calories/100 g)
- Kangaroo (24 g of protein with 100 calories/100 g)
- Veal (23 g of protein with 170 calories/100 g)
- Venison (deer. 30 g of protein with 160 g/100 g)
- Canadian bacon (21 g of protein with 157 calories/100 g)
- Anchovies (29 g of protein with 8 calories/4g, 1pc)
- Tuna (20 g of protein in under 100 calories/100 g)
- Halibut (18 g of protein with 94 calories/3oz)
- Salmon (18 to 25 g of protein within 200 calories/100 g)
- Eggs (13 g of protein with 155 calories/100 g)
- Non-fat cottage cheese (11 g protein in 98 calories/100 g)
- Swiss cheese (27 g of protein with 380 calories/100 g)
- Yogurt (10 g of protein with 59 calories/100 g)
If you want to see all the high vegan protein food list, check here.
- Almond (21 g of protein with 579 calories/100 g)
- Peanut butter (8 g of protein with 188 calories/2tbsp)
- Pumpkin seeds (19 g of protein with 446 calories/100 g)
- Oats (17 g of protein with 389 calories/100 g)
- Quinoa (8 g of protein with 222 calories/cup – cooked)
- Lentils (9 g of protein with 116 calories/100 g)
- Navy beans (8 g of protein with 67 calories/100g)
- Tofu (10 g of protein with 94 calories/1/2 cup)
- Curd (11 g of protein with 98 calories/100 g)
- Green peas (5 g of protein with 81 calories/100 g)
- Mushrooms (3.1 g of protein with 22 calories/ 100 g)
- Spinach (3 g of protein with 20 calories /100 g)
Conclusion: Getting to know high protein food source is very important to stay healthy and to lose weight. Eat proper amount of protein (since we tend to have too much protein) from the good sources. It'll be a long list, so I'll break it down on multiple pages.
If you find this blog post helpful, please help me out by sharing this blog post on your social media! If you have a tip to add or contents you’d like to see more on this blog, please feel free to leave a comment below.