High Protein Foods List

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High Protein Foods List

Proteins are made up of amino acids and are used by the body to maintain, repair, and build tissues, including muscles and other organ systems. Stressing a muscle through daily activity, aerobic exercise, or resistance training breaks down its muscle fibers. These muscle fibers must then be repaired. In order for repair to take place, the body must have all the amino acids required to synthesize muscle proteins. Therefore, proper daily protein intake with high protein foods is essential to maintaining a healthy level of muscle mass. For more information on protein, see EMG’s What is Protein article.

 

Protein Sources

The following table provides foods high in protein including their quality and quantity. This high protein foods list is categorized by food types: animal based foods and non-animal based foods.

Animal Protein Sources

There are two distinct food sources that provide protein: animal sources and non-animal sources. Animal sources, such as meat, dairy, and eggs, are generally complete proteins, meaning they provide all necessary essential amino acids. Even though animal sources are complete proteins, animal proteins should be consumed in moderation due to higher levels of saturated fats and cholesterol.

Non-Animal Protein Sources

Non-animal protein sources generally provide inadequate amounts of one or more essential amino acids and therefore are called incomplete proteins. Nevertheless, there are non-animal food sources, including quinoa and soybeans, which provide a complete profile of amino acids. Additionally, combining two or more non-animal protein sources can be used to provide a complete protein source.

A well-balanced diet incorporating grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and vegetables can easily provide adequate protein and all the essential amino acids. Check out the following high protein foods list for ratings of protein quality and the amount of serving size needed for 20 grams of protein.

 

High Protein Foods List

Animal Products

Quantity required for 20g
Meats
Beef

Excellent

3 oz.

Pork

Excellent

3 oz.

Lamb

Excellent

3 oz.

Veal

Excellent

3 oz.

Chicken

Excellent

3 oz.

Turkey

Excellent

3 oz.

 
Eggs & Diary
Eggs

Excellent

3 large eggs

Milk

Excellent

20 oz. (2 ½ cups)

Yogurt

Excellent

12 oz. (1 ½ cups)

Cheese

Excellent

3 oz.

 
Seafood
Cod

Excellent

3 oz.

Flounder

Excellent

3 oz.

Halibut

Excellent

3 oz.

Salmon

Excellent

3 oz.

Sea Bass

Excellent

3 oz.

Trout

Excellent

3 oz.

Tuna

Excellent

3 oz.

Lobster

Excellent

3 oz.

Clams

Excellent

3 oz.

Shrimp

Excellent

3 oz.

 

Non-Animal Products

Quality of Protein

Quantity required for 20g

Grains
Brown rice

Good

3-4 cups (cooked); 1  cups (uncooked)

Quinoa

Excellent

2 ½ cups (cooked); cups (uncooked)

Wheat germ

Excellent

¾ cup

Wild rice

Good

3 cups (cooked);  cups (uncooked)

 
Beans/Peas
Black beans

Excellent

1  cups (cooked); ½ cup (uncooked)
Chickpeas

Excellent

1  cups (cooked); ½ cup (uncooked)
Kidney beans

Good

1  cups (cooked); ½ cup (uncooked)
Lentils

Good

1 cup (cooked);  cup (uncooked)
Pinto beans

Good

1  cups (cooked); ½ cup (uncooked)
Soybeans

Good

1 cup (cooked);  cup (uncooked)
Split peas

Excellent

1 ¼ cups (cooked); 2/5 cup (uncooked)
White beans

Excellent

1 ¼ cups (cooked); ½ cup (uncooked)
 
Nuts/Seeds
Almonds

Reasonable

3 oz. (cup)

Cashews

Good

4 oz. (1 cup)

Peanuts

Good

4 oz. (1 cup)

Pecans

Reasonable

6 oz. (1 ½ cups)

Pistachio nuts

Excellent

3 oz. (cup)

Walnuts

Reasonable

3 oz. (cup)

Flax seeds

Good

3 oz. (cup)

Pumpkin seeds

Excellent

2 oz. (cup)

Sunflower seeds

Good

4 oz. (1 cup)

 
Vegetables
Broccoli

Good

1 large bunch

Corn

Good

5 large ears

Spinach

Excellent

20 oz. (1 large bag)

White potato

Good

4 large potatoes

Sweet potato

Good

4 large potatoes

 
Processed Soy Products
Tofu

Excellent

4 oz. (cup)

Tempeh

Good

4 oz. (cup)

EMG’s Nutrition Homepage: How to Eat Healthy

External Resources: MyPlate.gov: High Protein Foods List