High-Protein Foods | Low-Calorie Foods | Low-Carb Foods | Healthy Snacks | Protein Shake Recipes | Protein Pancake Recipes

Lifting weights and eating protein go hand in hand—or maybe hand on shaker bottle. But as great as protein powders are, they shouldn't be where you get all of your protein! You need a diet built around protein-rich foods to get a full range of amino acids and nutrients. 

If you're aiming to increase your protein intake with the best sources of protein for weight loss and building muscle, here is your complete high-protein food list—plus easy recipe ideas to help you put them into action! Each one is high-protein and low-carb so you can enjoy them without undoing your progress.

High-Protein Dairy and Eggs

1. Eggs - 6 g per large egg

There's a reason that bodybuilder grocery shopping videos always seem to contain several dozen eggs. These muscle-building treasures contain branched-chain amino acids, omega-3s, and are notoriously low carb. Go ahead, make that ultimate omelet!

Cooking eggs

2. Greek yogurt - 23 g per 8 oz.

3. Cottage cheese - 14 g per 1/2 cup

4. Swiss cheese - 8 g per oz.

5. 2% milk - 8 g per cup

6. Whey or casein protein powder - 24-30 g per scoop

7. RTD protein drinks - 16-20 g per cup

8. Frozen Greek yogurt - 6 g per 1/2 cup

Don't want to bother with powders? Slam a ready-to-drink (RTD) protein shake post-workout, toss it, and get on with your life.

High-Protein Seafood

9. Chunk light tuna - 22 g per 3 oz.

Canned light tuna or "skipjack" offers high protein, omega-3s, and lower mercury than more expensive albacore tuna. You can also get plenty of micronutrients like iron, B6, selenium, and iodine. Make in a sandwich, a salad, or as a creamy tuna dip.

10. Yellowfin tuna - 25 g per 3 oz.

11. Halibut - 23 g per 3 oz.

12. Octopus - 25 g per 3 oz.

13. Sockeye salmon - 23 g per 3 oz.

Sockeye salmon

14. Tilapia - 21 g per 3 oz.

15. Anchovies - 24 g per 3 oz.

16. Sardines - 21 g per 3 oz.

High-Protein Meats

17. Chicken breast - 24 g per 3 oz.

Chicken breast may be one of the most versatile proteins in addition to being one of the most popular. It's low-carb, low-fat, and high in protein, and offers a wide range of vitamins as well as iron and zinc. Bored with the same old bird? Try these grilled chicken and lemon skewers and prepare to love chicken again!

18. Steak - 23 g per 3 oz.

19. Ground beef - 18 g per 3 oz.

20. Pork chops - 26 g per 3 oz.

21. Turkey breast - 24 g per 3 oz.

Turkey breast

22. Corned beef - 24 g per 3 oz.

23. Canned chicken - 21 g per 3 oz.

24. Roast beef - 18 g per 3 oz.

25. Canadian bacon - 15 g per 3 oz.

26. Chorizo - 21 g per 3 oz.

27. Pepperoni - 18 g per 3 oz.

28. Roasted turkey breast - 18 g per 3 oz.

29. Beef jerky - 13 g per 1 oz.

Plant-Based Protein

30. Peanut Butter - 8 g per 2 tbsp

Peanut butter has it all: protein, healthy fats, and incredible taste. That's why registered dietician Douglas Kalman, Ph.D., says nut butters are an essential tool for weight gain in Bodybuilding.com's Foundations of Fitness Nutrition videos series. Just one peanut butter sandwich has a total of 15 grams of protein when paired with 2 slices of whole-wheat bread. Just two of these peanut butter protein drops will get you the same amount—but you're not going to stop at two!

31. Quinoa - 8 g per cup

Bonus mention goes to this seed that contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein! That's hardly all, though. It also has 5 grams of fiber per cup and a solid amount of minerals like manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous. You may be surprised to learn that it makes a fantastic chili, as well!


32. Navy beans - 20 g per cup

33. Lentils - 13 g per 1/4 cup

34. Mixed nuts - 6 g per 2 oz.

35. Bean chips - 4 g per 1 oz.

36. Tofu - 12 g per 3 oz.

37. Edamame - 8 g per 1/2 cup

38. Green peas - 8 g per cup

39. Wheat germ - 6 g per 1 oz.

40. Soba noodles - 12 g per 3 oz.

The best plant-based proteins mix sources for a complete amino acid profile. This is serious nutrition for serious results!

About the Author

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MSc., is a registered dietitian based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He works full-time as a freelance nutrition writer...

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