Protein makes up the building blocks of organs, muscles, skin, and hormones. Your body needs protein to maintain and repair tissues. Meanwhile, children need it for growth.
Studies show that eating protein can also help you lose weight and belly fat while increasing your muscle mass and strength.
A diet that is high in protein may also help lower blood pressure, fight diabetes, and more.
The reference daily intake (RDI) for protein is 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men.
However, many health and fitness experts believe you need more than that to function optimally.
Here is a list of 20 delicious foods that are high in protein.
Whole eggs are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods available.
They’re an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, eye-protecting antioxidants, and brain nutrients that you need.
Whole eggs are high in protein, but egg whites are almost pure protein.
Eggs and foods containing eggs are not suitable for people with an egg allergy.
Protein content: 33% of calories in a whole egg. One large egg has 6 grams of protein and 78 calories.
Almonds are a popular type of tree nut.
They are rich in essential nutrients, including fiber, vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium.
Almonds are not suitable for people who have a nut allergy.
Protein content: 15% of calories. 6 grams and 164 calories per ounce (28 grams).
Other high protein nuts
Pistachios (13% of calories) and cashews (11% of calories).
3. Chicken breast
Chicken breast is one of the most popular protein-rich foods.
If you eat it without the skin, most of its calories come from protein.
Chicken breast is also very easy to cook and versatile. It can taste delicious in a wide range of dishes.
Protein content: 75% of calories. One roasted chicken breast without skin contains 53 grams and only 284 calories.
Oats are among the healthiest grains available.
They provide healthy fibers, magnesium, manganese, thiamine (vitamin B1), and several other nutrients.
Protein content: 14% of calories. One cup of oats has 11 grams and 307 calories.
5. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is a type of cheese that is low in fat and calories.
It’s rich in calcium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and various other nutrients.
Protein content: 69% of calories. One cup (226 grams) of low-fat cottage cheese with 1% fat contains 28 grams of protein and 163 calories.
Other types of cheese that are high in protein
Parmesan cheese (38% of calories), Swiss cheese (30%), mozzarella (29%), and cheddar (26%).
6. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt also called strained yogurt, is a very thick type of yogurt.
It pairs well with sweet and savory dishes. It has a creamy texture and is high in many nutrients.
Protein content: 69% of calories. One 6-ounce (170-gram) container has 17 grams of protein and only 100 calories.
When buying Greek yogurt, opt for one without added sugar. Full-fat Greek yogurt is also high in protein but contains more calories.
Regular full-fat yogurt (24% of calories) and kefir (40%).
Milk contains a little of nearly every nutrient that your body needs.
Suggested read: Top 15 calcium-rich foods
It’s a good source of high-quality protein, and it’s high in calcium, phosphorus, and riboflavin (vitamin B2).
If you are concerned about your fat intake, low or zero-fat milk is an option.
For those with lactose intolerance, consuming milk can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms. People with a milk allergy can likewise experience severe symptoms, so dairy milk is not a suitable option for them either.
For those who wish to drink milk but either cannot tolerate it or follow a purely plant-based diet, alternatives include soy milk.
Protein content: 21% of calories. One cup of whole milk contains 8 grams of protein and 149 calories. One cup of soy milk contains 6.3 grams of protein and 105 calories.
Broccoli is a healthy vegetable that provides vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and potassium.
It also provides bioactive nutrients that may help protect against cancer.
Calorie for calorie, it’s high in protein compared with most vegetables.
Protein content: 33% of calories. One cup (96 grams) of chopped broccoli has 3 grams of protein and only 31 calories.
9. Lean beef
Lean beef is high in protein, as well as highly bioavailable iron, vitamin B12, and large amounts of other vital nutrients.
Suggested read: 14 easy ways to increase your protein intake
Protein content: 53% of calories. One 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of lean sirloin steak contains 25 grams of protein and 186 calories.
Beef is suitable for people on a low carb diet.
Tuna is a popular type of fish. You can eat it hot in a range of baked dishes or cold in salads.
It’s low in fat and calories but a rich source of protein.
Like other fish, tuna is a good source of various nutrients and contains omega-3 fats.
Protein content: 84% of calories in tuna canned in water. One can (142 grams) contains 27 grams of protein and only 128 calories.
Quinoa is a popular pseudo-cereal that many consider a superfood.
It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
Quinoa has numerous health benefits.
Protein content: 15% of calories. One cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa has 8 grams and 222 calories.
12. Whey protein supplements
When you’re pressed for time and unable to cook, a protein supplement can come in handy.
Whey protein is a high-quality protein from dairy foods that can help build muscle mass. It may also aid weight loss.
Protein content: Varies between brands. Over 90% of the calories may be protein, and there may be 20–50 grams of protein per serving.
Lentils are a type of legume.
They are high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, folate, copper, manganese, and various other nutrients.
Lentils are among the world’s best sources of plant-based protein, and they’re an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans.
Protein content: 31% of calories. One cup (198 grams) of boiled lentils contains 18 grams and 230 calories.
Other high protein legumes
Soybeans (33% of calories), kidney beans (24%), and chickpeas (19%).
14. Ezekiel bread
Ezekiel bread is different from most other bread.
It’s made of organic and sprouted whole grains and legumes, including millet, barley, spelt, wheat, soybeans, and lentils.
Compared with most bread, Ezekiel bread is high in protein, fiber, and various important nutrients.
Protein content: 20% of calories. One slice contains 4 grams and 80 calories.
15. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkins contain edible seeds called pumpkin seeds.
Suggested read: How many carbs should you eat per day to lose weight?
They’re incredibly high in many nutrients, including iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Protein content: 22% of calories. One ounce (28 grams) has 9 grams of protein and 158 calories.
Other high protein seeds
Flax seeds (12% of calories), sunflower seeds (12%), and chia seeds (11%).
16. Turkey breast
Turkey breast is similar to chicken breast in many ways.
It consists mostly of protein, with very little fat and calories. It also tastes delicious and is high in various vitamins and minerals.
Protein content: 82% of calories. One 3-ounce (85-gram) serving contains 26 grams and 125 calories.
17. Fish (all types)
Fish is healthy for various reasons.
It’s rich in essential nutrients. Some types are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Protein content: Highly variable. Salmon is 22% protein, containing 19 grams per 3-ounce (85- gram) serving and only 175 calories.
Shrimp is a type of seafood.
It’s low in calories but high in various nutrients, including selenium and vitamin B12.
Like fish, shrimp contains omega-3 fatty acids.
Protein content: 97% of calories. A 3-ounce (85-gram) serving contains 20 grams and only 84 calories.
Suggested read: How to increase the absorption of iron from foods
19. Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are another high-protein vegetable related to broccoli.
They’re high in fiber, vitamin C, and other nutrients.
Protein content: 28% of calories. One-half cup (78 grams) contains 2 grams of protein and 28 calories.
Peanuts are high in protein, fiber, and magnesium.
Studies show that they can help you lose weight.
Peanut butter is also high in protein, but it can likewise be high in calories. Therefore, you should eat it in moderation.
Peanuts are not suitable for people with a nut allergy.
Protein content: 18% of calories. One ounce (28 grams) contains 7 grams and 161 calories.
Protein is essential for maintaining and repairing body tissue. It may also help you lose weight.
A wide variety of foods provides protein. Plant-based foods, such as lentils, are a good option for vegans and vegetarians.