100 High Protein Foods – Ultimate List of the Best Protein Sources

Anytime I sit down to write an article, I try to think of things that I have searched for in the past in an effort to produce content that is actually useful to lifters. I thought a massive list of high protein foods covering a number of different categories would be useful to almost anybody that lifts weights. So, here it is! A giant list of 100 protein sources (along with a few other helpful nuggets about protein).

Protein FAQs

1. What is a complete protein?

A protein source that contains all 9 of the essential amino acids is known as a complete protein. Animal sources and dairy are usually complete protein sources.

All proteins are made of varying amounts of amino acids, which are used for a number of functions within your body. 9 of these amino acids are known as "essential amino acids", which means your body cannot synthesize them by itself so you must acquire them from your diet. 

Many plant sources are incomplete since they may only contain a few of the essential amino acids. Therefore, plant sources must be combined to ensure you are eating all of the amino acids your body needs.

Essential amino acids diagram

2. How many calories are in protein?

Protein is known as a type of macronutrient and is one of the four sources of energy (calories) for your body. Protein contains 4 calories per gram.

The other sources of energy or "macronutrients" are carbohydrates and fat. Carbs contain 4 calories per gram and fat contains 9 calories per gram.

Alcohol is also technically a macronutrient and contains 7 calories per gram.

3. How much protein do you need?

This amount is going to vary slightly depending on some individual factors including body weight and activity level. However, most experts agree that your protein intake should be in the range of 1.2 - 1.8 grams per KG of body weight if you are lifting weights regularly.

For most people, somewhere around the middle of that range will be sufficient.

Whey protein image

4. Is too much protein harmful?

Too much of anything is usually going to have adverse effects at some point. Unless you have a pre-existing condition, even the upper end of the above guidelines should not cause you any trouble.

5. What is the best source of protein?

This is a very difficult question to answer since there are many factors at play and "best" can be very subjective. One way in which protein quality can be judged is by ranking different sources based on their "biological value" (BV).

This rating method has its' limitations but, essentially, compares proteins against each other depending how much of each source is absorbed and used inside the body.

In all honesty, if you are eating a variety of protein sources, you don't need to worry much about the biological value but it is interesting information.

High protein foods like whey protein, eggs and soy beans all have very high BVs. If you want info and to find out the values for more foods, check out this biological value article.

100 High Protein Foods List

Meat and Poultry

Food

Serving Size

Protein Grams

1. Steak (top/bottom round)

3oz.

23

2. Ground/mince beef

3oz.

18

3. Pork chop

3oz.

26

4. Chicken breast

3oz.

24

5. Turkey breast

3oz.

24

6. Corned beef

3oz.

24

7. Sliced deli beef

3oz.

18

8. Canadian style bacon

3oz.

15

9. Bison steak

4oz.

23

10. Kangaroo steak

1 steak

22

11. Horse steak

3oz.

18

12. Ostrich steak

4oz.

29

13. Crocodile meat

4oz.

24

14. Chorizo

3oz.

21

15. Pepperoni

3oz.

18

16. Turkey breast deli slices

3oz.

18

Protein Tip!​​​​​​​​​​

If selecting protein for weight loss goals, select sources with lower fat content. These leaner sources can help cut down your total calorie intake.

Seafood

Food

Serving Size

Protein Grams

17. Tuna

3oz.

25

18. Halibut

3oz.

23

19. Octopus

3oz.

25

20. Salmon

3oz.

23

21. Tilapia

3oz.

21

22. Anchovies

3oz.

24

23. Sardines

3oz.

21

24. Mackerel fillet

1 cooked fillet

21

25. Shrimp/prawns

3oz.

18

26. Cod

3oz.

15

27. Swordfish

3oz.

20

Protein Tip!​​​​​​​​​​

Protein requires other vitamins and minerals such as calcium so that it can be absorbed and utilized properly. Do not neglect these nutrients in your diet if you are consuming high protein foods.

Protein Bars and Snacks

Food

Serving Size

Protein Grams

28. Beef jerky

1oz.

13

29. Peanut butter

2 tbsp.

8

30. Ready-made smoothies

1 cup

16

31. ​​​​Quest bars

1 bar

20

32. Lenny and Larry’s cookies

1 cookie

16

33. Bacon jerky

1 oz.

11

34. Clif builder’s bars

1 bar

20

35. Nature valley protein granola bar

1 bar

10

36. Ezekiel bread

1 slice

4

37. Sprouted wholegrain bread

1 slice

6

Eggs and dairy

Food

Serving Size

Protein Grams

38. Greek yoghurt

8oz.

23

39. Cottage cheese

½ cup

14

40. Swiss cheese

1oz.

8

41. Eggs

1 large

6

42. Milk (2% fat)

1 cup

8

43. Whey protein powder

Per average scoop

20-30

44. Kefir

6oz.

6

45. Gruyere cheese

3oz.

24

46. Quark

3oz.

14

47. Edam cheese

3oz.

25

48. Feta cheese

3oz.

14

Vegetarian Protein Sources

Protein Tip!​​​​​​​​​​

Many plant-based protein sources are incomplete. Eating a variety of these sources and pairing complimenting sources together can help achieve a more complete amino acid profile.

Beans, legumes and lentils

Food

Serving Size

Protein Grams

49. Navy beans

1 cup

15

50. Dried lentils

¼ cup

13

51. Edamame beans

½ cup

8

52. Tofu

1 cup

28

53. Tempeh

1 cup

50

54. Split peas

1 cup

16

55. Black beans

1 cup

15

56. Kidney beans

1 cup

15

57. Pinto beans

1 cup

15

58. Miso (paste)

1 cup

32

Nuts and Seeds

Food

Serving Size

Protein Grams

59. Almonds

1oz.

6

60. Pumpkin seeds

1oz.

5

61. Peanuts

1oz.

7

62. Chia seeds

1oz.

5

63. Cashew nuts

1oz.

5

64. Pistachios

1oz.

6

65. Sunflower seeds

1oz.

5.5

66. Flax seeds

1 tbsp.

1.5

67. Walnuts

1oz.

4

68. Pine nuts

1oz.

4

69. Coconut

1oz.

2

Protein Tip!​​​​​​​​​​

There is research to suggest that distributing protein throughout the day is beneficial for muscle gain (study). Around 40g per meal seems to be most effective.

High protein fruits and vegetables

Food

Serving Size

Protein Grams

70. Green peas

1 cup

7

71. Broccoli

1 cup

3

72. Brussels Sprouts

½ cup

2

73. Spinach

1 cup

5

74. Sun-dried tomatoes

1 cup

6

75. Guava

1 cup

4

76. Artichokes

1 medium

4

77. Kale

1 cup

1

78. Mushrooms

1 cup sliced

4

79. Mange tout

1 cup

6

80. Sweet corn

1 cup

5

81. Asparagus

½ cup chopped

2

82. Cauliflower

1 cup

2

83. Pak-choi

1 cup

3

84. Mulberries

1 cup

2

85. Blackberries

1 cup

2

86. Passion fruit

1 cup

5

87. Pomegranate

1 fruit

5

88. Avocado

1 avocado

4

Protein Tip!​​​​​​​​​​

If selecting high protein foods for weight loss goals, select sources with lower fat content. These leaner sources can help cut down your total calorie intake.

High protein grains

Food

Serving Size

Protein Grams

89. Oat bran

1 cup

7

90. Wheat germ

1 gram

6

91. Buckwheat

1 cup

23

92. Quinoa

1 cup

8

93. Oats

½ cup

13

94. Teff

¼ cup

7

95. Triticale

¼ cup

6

96. Soba noodles

1 cup

6

97. Wild rice

1 cup

6.5

98. Millet

½ cup

11

99. Rye

1 cup

17

100. Spelt

1 cup

25

I hope this post has helped give you some extra ideas and information on protein intake. If you found it useful, please do hit one of the share buttons!

For anybody that wants to get all sciencey about protein for lifters and athletes, take a look at this crazy-detailed protein article by Jorn Trommelen.

Laine Norton
 

I am a strength training enthusiast that loves discovering new ways to get stronger. As a certified trainer and powerlifting competitor, I’m always looking for different training methods and advice. I hope to pass some of what I learn on to my fellow lifters.

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