Protein is a must for muscle growth, weight loss, and overall health. Regardless of if you’re a vegan or a non-vegan, there are options for everyone!
Whether you’re interested in increasing your lean muscle tissue, losing weight, or you just need some good healthy options to satisfy your protein requirements; these 40 protein-packed foods will supply your every need.
If you prefer plant-based protein… no problem. Meat lover?… we’ve got you covered with plenty of options and anything in between.
We do truly feel these 40 foods are among the “crème of the crop” of protein sources and hopefully, you can benefit from using them in your diet…
1- Chicken Breast
Protein: 43g per cup
Chicken breast is a preferred choice for workout nutrition and high-protein meals as well as one of the best protein sources available.
Its low fat, low sodium, low cholesterol, and low-calorie profile make it an ideal all-around piece of poultry.
2- Lean Ground Beef
Protein: 17g per 3 oz
Beef is a very high source of protein and is fantastic for muscle growth. It provides vitamins like B12 and antioxidants as well.
Lean ground beef is perfect for healthy burgers, tacos, meatloaf etc.
It’s just a versatile source of protein!
3- Turkey Breast
Protein: 29g per 100 grams
Tired of chicken breast? Turkey breast is a nice low-fat alternative and has tons of protein. Plus you get the vitamin profile you would with chicken breast like B vitamins and iron.
Turkey breast makes great cold cuts for healthy, protein-packed sandwiches.
4- Lean Pork/Tenderloin
Protein: 22g per 3 oz
Pork is among the tastiest meats and if you know how to cook a nice tenderloin, you’ll have a really tasty piece of protein.
High in essential vitamins and minerals, a lean enough cut can even be healthier than a lean cut of chicken.
5- Top Sirloin
Protein: 23 Grams per 3 oz
A tender steak (If you cook it properly) that has plenty of protein, fats, iron, and B12. Ideal for bodybuilders who need a nice cut of protein and fat for energy and muscle-building properties.
Steak is one of the best protein sources you can find. Just make sure to sear it quickly so it can be tender and juicy…
6- Beef Jerky
Protein: 7g per 1 large piece (20g)
Jerky is ideal for those on the go and takes no preparation. The selections are endless and it’s high in iron and zinc.
Jerky is such a convenient way to get your daily protein.
7- Roast Beef
Protein: 18 g per 3 oz
A juicy piece of roast beef has plenty of amino acids and is a tasty source of protein. Make a hearty sandwich and add plenty of veggies and you’ll enjoy roast beef a lot more!
Roast beef is a meat that’s not talked about as much as other meats but it’s just as delicious and lean.
Protein: 3g per slice
We can’t leave the bacon off the list. An enjoyable piece of meat it is and a good way to add more protein into your diet.
Usually eaten as a breakfast food, you can eat it and feel normal at any time of the day.
Bacon contains all B vitamins and the fat content is not a concern unless consumed in large amounts.
9- Pork Chops
Protein: 52g per one chop
Pork chops are amazing on the grill. They are high in protein, B vitamins, and zinc.
So don’t discount pork chops as a muscle building and weight loss food. Pork chops contain high protein and moderate fats which works well for any diet.
Protein: 6g for one large egg
You can’t get any better than an egg for an inexpensive high-quality protein source. Eggs are rich in B6, B12, and Vitamin D among other nutrient-dense nutrients.
The egg white contains most of the protein but the yolk is very nutritious containing more vitamins and minerals like iron and zinc.
Although not poultry, they are a byproduct.
11- Nuts (General)
Protein: 27g per cup
Almonds, walnuts, pecans, you name it. Nuts are a great and healthy source of protein that will also provide you with the “good” fats.
Have a handful a day for a power packed protein punch.
12- Nut Butters
Protein: Usually around 8g per tbsp
Nuts were mentioned earlier but a great and creative way to get in your protein is though nut butters like almond, peanut butter.
Nut butters have healthy fats which are good for brain function and amino acids.
The healthiest option contains nothing other than peanuts and maybe a little sea salt.
13- Pumpkin Seeds
Protein: 6g per half cup
Pumpkin seeds are a great snack and hey… the protein you get from them is a big plus.
If you appreciate the fact that they contain antioxidants, magnesium, and fatty acids, you’ll have reason to eat more of them!
14- Hemp Seeds
Protein: 35.56g per 100g
Hemp seeds are the great high source of protein for such a small serving size and you can add them to anything.
Hemp seeds are a great Omega 3 source with plenty of good fiber. Add them to yogurts, shakes, toast them or eat them raw.
Protein: 11g per ½ cup
Edamame (Boiled Soybeans) supply a respectable amount of protein. These are ideal for vegans and/or anyone who wants more protein from a plant-based source.
They contain enough fiber, vitamin K and antioxidants to keep your system running smoothly.
Protein: 1.1g per tbsp
A popular and fantastic source of protein for vegans and people that need a legume to accompany their rice and/or soup.
People use lentils for just about anything and they provide a respectable amount of iron, zinc, and fiber.
17- Veggie/Bean Burger
Protein: 11g per pattie
If you don’t eat meat or just want an alternative, a veggie/bean burger can taste incredible while supplying plenty of protein.
They are made with any and all veggies and/or black beans and a few binding ingredients like breadcrumbs and quinoa. Get creative!
Protein: 2.4g per tbsp
You can make so many things with chickpeas like falafel and cookie dough. Chickpeas contain plenty of iron, B6, and magnesium.
19- Black Beans
Protein: 40g per cup
You can make and use black beans for so many things like brownies, burgers and more! Add to any vegan dish for a high-protein meal.
Beans are known to have good amounts of fiber for digestive health.
20- Soy Milk
Protein: 8g per cup
Regardless of soy milk’s uncertainty as a healthy option, a cup supplies a healthy amount of protein.
Soy milk is lactose-free and supports healthy cholesterol levels. All in all soy milk is a good protein source and has some benefits that make it a good option.
Protein: 13g per 2 oz
Anchovies are the king of canned protein on an ounce per ounce basis. Anchovies are rich in Omega 3’s and Niacin.
Protein: 31g per cup
Made from fermented soybeans and similar to Tofu, Tempeh has more protein per oz. and is a great vegan protein source.
Protein: 10g per ½ cup
We can’t leave out this vegan staple food. You can literally dress up Tofu to your liking.
An interesting fact about Tofu is that it contains all nine amino acids! Not to mention the magnesium, copper, and zinc will help your brain and mind to function and promote better sleep.
24- Green Peas
Protein: 8g per cup
Green peas are a great vegetable in addition to your main protein source.
Each cup contains plenty vitamin A, K, and C.
Protein: 2.57g per cup
Not the highest in protein content but one of the healthiest. An incredible source of vitamins K and C, so eat up your broccoli as it’ll also help with weight loss.
Getting in your greens on a daily basis is so important for good health, and broccoli is one of the best vegetables you can put into your body.
Protein: 5g per cup cooked in water
Popeye’s choice of “greens”! You’d be surprised to know there is a good decent amount of protein in spinach, along with iron, magnesium and B vitamins.
A water heavy green, you can afford to eat lots of it!
Protein: 5g per ½ cup
Oats are known for being an amazing carbohydrate source but they also pack a nice bit of protein as well. They help lower cholesterol and the fiber/antioxidant benefits are great!
Protein: 8g per cup
A good carb source, Quinoa is not lacking in its protein content. It’s high in fiber and gluten-free so the gluten sensitive people can feast on this healthy grain.
29- Nutritional Yeast
Protein: 3g per tbsp
You can get 6 grams of protein with two tablespoons of this cheesy tasting yeast. Nutritional yeast’s biggest benefit, however, is its high B12 content which is perfect for vegans.
30- Sprouted Grain Bread (Ezekiel)
Protein: 4g per slice
Ezekiel bread is fantastic since you can avoid the flour, get your grains, and 4g protein per slice is a great bonus!
31- Milk (Low Fat/Whole)
Protein: 8g per cup
Milk has been a go-to protein source since the beginning of time as it’s cheap and easy to get down (It also tastes great!)
It’s perfect with cereal and adds some fats and calcium as well which is necessary for bone health.
32- Cottage Cheese (Low/Non-Fat)
Protein: 28g per cup
Cottage cheese supplies a clean source of protein while being preferred by the more lactose intolerant crowd.
33- Greek Yogurt (Low/Non-Fat)
Protein: 17g per container (170g)
For those who want a high-protein dessert, Greek Yogurt is a perfect option. You can do so many things with it! It’s also a great probiotic for healthy gut flora.
It’s great for mixing with nuts, seeds, fruits, protein powders, honey and so much more. A parfait sounds just right!
34- Canned Tuna
Protein: 20g per 3 oz
Tuna is a very cheap, yet protein-filled fish. You can use it for anything and the options are endless as far as the variety in brands/flavors etc.
Mercury is a concern, so light tuna and infrequent consumption are best for your health.
35- Sockeye Salmon
Protein: 39g per ½ fillet (155g)
A tasty fish, Salmon is especially high in protein and omega 3 fatty acids! A great fish for preventing heart disease and is loaded with selenium.
36- Yellow Fin Tuna
Protein: 25 g per 3-oz serving
This Tuna is loaded with high-quality protein, Omega 3’s and Niacin. A great alternative to canned tuna if you’d like a change of taste and texture.
Protein: 21 g per 3 oz
A simple, budget-friendly fish that’s quick to cook and high in protein content. You can find Tilapia for a reasonable price and they provide large amounts provide B12, Niacin and Potassium
Protein: 25 g per 3 oz
This delicious eight-limbed mollusk is surprisingly high in protein and can be eaten in many ways.
One we should mention… Calamari.
Protein: 23 g per 3 oz
With 2 grams of fat per 3 oz serving, this white fish is an excellent choice of lean, muscle-building protein with essential fatty acids.
A good heart-healthy fish…
40- Protein Powders (Whey/Casein/Soy/Plant)
Protein: Usually 20 or more g per scoop
There are some seriously high-quality protein powders out there. They can provide 20+ grams of protein per scoop and are very convenient.
There are many types of protein powders. Whey is quick absorbing for muscle saturation, casein is better for slow digestion/overnight consumption and plant-based proteins like soy/pea/veggie are great for vegans.
“Good Protein Sources.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/good-protein-sources.
Magee, Elaine. “The Secret of Edamame.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/edamame-secret#1.
Fletcher, Jenna. “43 High-Protein Foods for Weight Loss.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321522.php.
Food Composition Databases Show Foods List, ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list.
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