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Top 10 Foods Highest in Protein

Written by Daisy Whitbread, MScN
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Top 10 Foods Highest in Protein

Protein is a macronutrient necessary for the proper growth and function of the human body. A deficiency in protein leads to muscle atrophy and impaired functioning of the human body in general.

Those looking to build muscle might benefit from increased protein intake, but they should be aware of the risks. Excess protein may cause a strain on the liver and kidneys, and may also increase cancer risk, particularly with protein from animal sources.

How much protein do you need?

The recommended daily intake of protein is between 46-56 grams for most adults, with pregnant and lactating women needing up to 72 grams of protein per day. Athletes or other people looking to build muscle mass may also want to consume more protein. The Daily Value (%DV) for protein is set at 50 grams per day, this number is meant to help compare foods and is a general number that works for most people.

High protein foods include lean chicken, lean pork, fish, lean beef, tofu, beans, lentils, low-fat yogurt, milk, cheese, seeds, nuts, and eggs.

Below is a list of healthy protein foods sorted by common serving size, use the protein nutrient ranking to sort by 100 gram or 200 calorie serving sizes. For more information, see the lists of vegetarian protein, high protein fruits, and high protein vegetables.

Top 10 Protein Food List

A roast chicken

#1: Lean Chicken Breast

Protein in a 6oz BreastProtein per 100g
109% DV (55g)64% DV (32g)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Lean Chicken Breast (Cooked)

More Poultry High in Protein

-124% DV in a whole chicken leg
-108% DV per 6oz of lean ground turkey
-102% DV in a 6oz turkey breast
-64% DV in a chicken thigh
-49% DV in a chicken drumstick

See all meats high in protein.
A pork chop

#2: Lean Pork Chops

Protein in a 6oz ChopProtein per 100g
105% DV (53g)62% DV (31g)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Pork Chops (Lean)

More Pork Products High in Protein

-102% DV in 6oz of broiled pork tenderloin
-88% DV in 6oz of ground pork
-79% DV in 1 cup of diced lean ham

See all meats high in protein.
Tuna Fillet

#3: Tuna

Protein in a 6oz FilletProtein per 100g
102% DV (51g)60% DV (30g)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Bluefin Tuna (Cooked)

More Fish High in Protein

-92% DV in a 6oz tilapia fillet
-90% DV in a 6oz salmon fillet
-82% DV in a 6oz cod fillet
-45% DV in 3oz of canned tuna
-39% DV in 3oz of cooked shrimp

See all fish and seafood high in protein.
A steak on a plate

#4: Beef (Skirt Steak)

Protein per 6oz SteakProtein per 100g
97% DV (49g)57% DV (29g)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Skirt Steak

More Lean Red Meat High in Protein

-96% DV in 6oz of roast lamb sirloin
-90% DV in 6oz of lean ground beef
-50% DV in 3oz of roast beef

See all meats high in protein.
A block of tofu

#5: Firm Tofu

Protein per CupProtein per 100g
87% DV (44g)35% DV (17g)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Firm Tofu

More Soy Foods High in Protein

-67% DV in 1 cup of tempeh
-44% DV per cup of cooked soybeans
-28% DV in a 16oz glass of soymilk

Note: The amount of protein in tofu can range between 4.8g (10% DV) to 17.3g (35% DV) per 100 gram serving (or a little less than 1/2 cup). See the nutrition comparison of 10 common tofu brands. To find more, use the detailed nutrient ranking of all vegan foods high in protein.
Lentils

#6: Lentils

Protein per CupProtein per 100g
36% DV (18g)18% DV (9g)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Lentils (Cooked)

More Beans High in Protein

-35% DV per cup of large white beans
-31% DV per cup of pinto beans
-31% DV per cup of kidney beans

See the top 10 beans and legumes high in protein.
Plain yogurt with raspberries

#7: Low-Fat Yogurt

Protein per CupProtein per 100g
28% DV (14g)11% DV (6g)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Non-fat Yogurt

More Dairy High in Protein

-33% DV per 16oz glass of skim milk
-31% DV per 16oz glass of whole milk

See more vegetarian sources of protein.
Parmesan Cheese

#8: Grated Parmesan

Protein per OzProtein per 100g
20% DV (10g)72% DV (36g)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Grated Parmesan (Hard)

More Cheese High in Protein

-18% DV per oz of non-fat cheddar
-16% DV per oz of low-fat Swiss cheese
-15% DV per oz of mozzarella

See more vegetarian protein foods.
Squash and Pumpkin Seeds

#9: Seeds (Squash and Pumpkin Seeds)

Protein per 1oz HandfulProtein per 100g
17% DV (8g)60% DV (30g)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Roasted Squash And Pumpkin Seeds (Unsalted)

More Nuts and Seeds High in Protein

-14% DV per oz of peanuts
-12% DV per oz of almonds
-12% DV per oz of pistachios

See the 16 nuts and seeds highest in protein.
Eggs

#10: Eggs

Protein in 1 Large EggProtein per 100g
13% DV (6g)25% DV (13g)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Hard Boiled Eggs
-7% DV in 1 egg white
-34% DV in 1 cup of chopped hard-boiled eggs

See All 200 Foods High in Protein

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A printable list of high protein foods.

High Protein Foods by Nutrient Density (Most Protein per 100 Grams)

FoodServingProtein
#1 Spirulina100 grams115% DV
(57g)
#2 Dry-Roasted Soybeans100 grams87% DV
(43g)
#3 Grated Parmesan Cheese100 grams83% DV
(42g)
#4 Lean Veal Top Round100 grams73% DV
(37g)
#5 Lamb Shoulder Roast100 grams71% DV
(36g)
#6 Lean Chicken Breast100 grams64% DV
(32g)
#7 Non-fat mozzarella100 grams63% DV
(32g)
#8 Lean Pork Chops100 grams62% DV
(31g)
#9 Tuna100 grams60% DV
(30g)
#10 Seeds (Squash and Pumpkin Seeds)100 grams60% DV
(30g)

High Protein Isolates and Powders (Non-Commercial)

FoodServingProtein
#1 Soy Protein Isolate1 tblsp12% DV
(6g)
#2 Gelatin1 tblsp12% DV
(6g)
#3 Egg White Powder1 tblsp12% DV
(6g)
#4 Spirulina (Dried Seaweed)1 tblsp8% DV
(4g)
#5 Non-fat Milk Powder1 tblsp5% DV
(3g)
#6 Whey Powderper tblsp2% DV
(1g)

Protein for Vegetarians and Vegans

Vegetarian protein foods include tofu, beans, lentils, yogurt, milk, cheese, green peas, nuts, seeds, whole grains, peanut butter, eggs, and white button mushrooms. See the list of vegetarian protein foods.

Vegan protein foods are similar to vegetarian sources but exclude yogurt, milk, cheese, and eggs. Vegans do not eat any foods from animals. Instead vegans can eat high protein vegetables like lima beans, spinach, and corn. See the list of vegan protein foods.

High Protein Meals

1. Tuna Sandwich
CaloriesProteinFatCarbs
276
(14% DV)
28.4g
(57% DV)
4.7g
(7% DV)
28.5g
(10% DV)

Ingredients: 3oz canned tuna, 1 leaf romain lettuce, 1 slice of tomato, 2 slices whole wheat bread.
View or Edit this Meal

2. Banana Parfait
CaloriesProteinFatCarbs
420
(21% DV)
16.4g
(33% DV)
17g
(26% DV)
57g
(19% DV)

Ingredients: 6oz of non-fat yogurt, 1/4 cup of uncooked oats, 1oz handful of pumpkin seeds, 1 medium banana.
View or Edit this Meal

3. Chicken Salad
CaloriesProteinFatCarbs
429
(21% DV)
65.1g
(130% DV)
14g
(22% DV)
12.9g
(4% DV)

Ingredients: 6oz chicken breast, 2 cups romain lettuce, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 oz grated parmesan.
View or Edit this Meal

4. Tofu Stir Fry
CaloriesProteinFatCarbs
680
(34% DV)
51.1g
(102% DV)
37.1g
(57% DV)
47.5g
(16% DV)

Ingredients: 1 cup firm tofu, 1/2 cup onions, 1 cup broccoli, 1 tsp ginger, 1/2 cup brown rice, 1 tblsp sesame oil, 1tblsp soy sauce.
View or Edit this Meal

5. Lentil Curry with Peanuts
CaloriesProteinFatCarbs
672
(34% DV)
28.8g
(58% DV)
30.4g
(47% DV)
77.8g
(26% DV)

Ingredients: 1 cup of cooked lentils, 1/4 onion, 1 tblsp curry powder, 1/5 cup brown rice, 1 tblsp sesame oil, 1oz dry-roasted peanuts
View or Edit this Meal

Make your own meal plans by adding foods to the meal plan calculator.

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View more food groups with the nutrient ranking tool, or see ratios with the nutrient ratio tool.

Data Sources and References

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.
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