Main | Protein | Carbohydrates | Fat

Protein is a molecule made of amino acids. It's an essential piece of every cell in your body. Your hair and nails are made of protein, and it's necessary for the creation and repair of muscles, bones, organs, blood, and even skin. For people interested in fitness, protein has particular importance because it's a vital part of the muscle-building process.

Research suggests that the best way to get enough protein into your diet, and to do it sustainably, is to eat 20-30 grams of protein per meal.1 We think that's pretty solid advice.

Measuring Your Macros: What 30 Grams Of Protein Looks Like

{{caption}}

But how do you measure 30 grams? Not everybody has a food scale, and nobody wants to look up every meal ingredient for the rest of their lives. So, here's what 30 grams of protein looks like from various common sources. Use these photos as guides so you can quickly and easily measure your own protein needs!

Measuring Your Macros: What 30 Grams Of Protein Looks Like

{{caption}}

Bacon

Per 7 thick slices

428 calories

1.1 g carbs

33 g fat 

29.3 g protein 

While bacon is a totally legitimate way to get protein, it also comes with a lot of calories and a lot of saturated fat. In fact, it's almost equal parts protein and fat! If you're trying to stay or get lean, eating seven slices of bacon with your egg whites is probably not the best choice.

Hardboiled Eggs

Measuring Your Macros: What 30 Grams Of Protein Looks Like

{{caption}}

Per 5 large eggs

388 calories

2.8 g carbs 

26.5 g fat

31.5 g protein

Eggs are an excellent protein source. They can be especially awesome when you can't bring yourself to eat another chicken breast. If you're trying to keep your calories down, you can always just eat the egg whites, but you'll need about eight of them to get the same amount of protein.

95/5 Ground Beef

Measuring Your Macros: What 30 Grams Of Protein Looks Like

{{caption}}

Per 4 ounces

218 calories

0 g carbs 

8.6 g fat

33 g protein

If it's not in it already, lean beef can be a great addition to your nutrition plan. Although it has more fat and thus more calories than chicken breast, lean beef provides a little bit more protein and some extra iron.

Tempeh

Measuring Your Macros: What 30 Grams Of Protein Looks Like

{{caption}}

Per 6 ounces

333 calories

15.9 g carbs

19.4 g fat

30.9 g protein

Tempeh is another soy product. Along with protein and fat, you'll get a healthy dose of magnesium, iron, and vitamin B6. Despite what you may have heard, there's really not a ton of evidence that suggests soy will increase your estrogen levels.2 So eat up!

Measuring Your Macros: What 30 Grams Of Protein Looks Like

{{caption}}

Protogen Whey

Per 1 scoop

170 calories

6 g carbs

2.5 g fat

30 g protein

Protein powder is probably the most calorie-efficient protein source. If you're trying to watch or lower your calories but still want that muscle-building protein, then a scoop or two of protein powder can be the perfect snack. It's also great immediately after a workout.

Measuring Your Macros: What 30 Grams Of Protein Looks Like

{{caption}}

Extra-Firm Tofu

Measuring Your Macros: What 30 Grams Of Protein Looks Like

{{caption}}

Per 3/4 block

311 calories

6.8 g carbs

19.9 g fat

33.7 g protein

If you're not a meat eater, or just want a different protein source, try tofu. Tofu is made of soybeans and contains a lot of healthy fat and protein. Tofu is also a complete protein, which means it has all the essential amino acids necessary for protein synthesis.

Grilled Chicken Breast

Measuring Your Macros: What 30 Grams Of Protein Looks Like

{{caption}}

Per 4 ounces

164 calories

0 g carbs

5.2 g fat

29.2 g protein

Chicken breast is a bodybuilding staple, and for good reason. Chicken breast has a lot of protein without many carbs or calories, and is low in fat. It's also a good source of potassium and vitamin B6.

Main | Protein | Carbohydrates | Fat

References

  1. Phillips, S. M., & Van Loon, L. J. (2011). Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29(sup1), S29-S38.
  2. Hamilton-Reeves, J. M., Vazquez, G., Duval, S. J., Phipps, W. R., Kurzer, M. S., & Messina, M. J. (2010). Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis. Fertility and Sterility, 94(3), 997-1007.

About the Author

Cassie Smith

Cassie Smith

Cassie Smith is a senior editor for Bodybuilding.com, as well as a weightlifter and sports performance coach.

View all articles by this author