41 High-Protein Foods

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    Protein has never been more popular. It’s so popular every food producer’s cramming the stuff into their grub. Should you so desire, you can start your day with a bowl of Weetabix Protein, dine on high-protein bread or pasta, and snack on a protein-packed Bounty bar in between, washing it all down with protein-enriched water.

    The reason for this popularity is protein’s vital role in building muscle. When you work out you cause small, microscopic tears in your muscles so you need protein – which is made up of amino acids, also known as the building blocks of muscle – to repair this damage and rebuild your muscles bigger and stronger.

    Even if you’re not working out regularly, protein is a vital nutrient for building and maintaining body tissues, and the NHS recommends that men eat 55.5g a day. If you are very active you will want to increase that significantly, even if you focus on endurance sports rather than strength training. Endurance athletes should look to eat 1.2-1.4g per kg of bodyweight every day, while strength athletes should aim for 1.2-1.7g per kg of bodyweight daily.

    Before turning to supplements or protein-enriched food to meet your protein quota, take a spin through our list of high-protein foods – there’s a good chance you can get more than enough protein through your diet. We’ve started with a complete list ranked by their protein content per 100g, then broken up the list into food groups – meat, seafood, meat replacements, eggs and dairy, and nuts, seeds and legumes. Have at it.

    31 High-Protein Foods Ranked By Protein Content Per 100g

    1. Beef jerky 30-40g
    2. Parmesan 32g
    3. Tuna steak 32g
    4. Pumpkin seeds 30g
    5. Turkey 30g
    6. Peanuts 25-28g
    7. Edam 27g
    8. Canned tuna 25g
    9. Cheddar 25g
    10. Seitan 25g
    11. Beef 20-24g
    12. Chicken 24g
    13. Salmon 24g
    14. Stilton 24g
    15. Almonds 21g
    16. Sardines 21g
    17. Cod 20g
    18. Lamb 20g
    19. Mackerel 20g
    20. Pistachios 20g
    21. Pork loin 17-20g
    22. Tempeh 20g
    23. Cashew nuts 18g
    24. Mozzarella 18g
    25. Mussels 18g
    26. Chia seeds 17g
    27. Walnuts 15-17g
    28. Prawns 15-18g
    29. Quorn mince 14.5g
    30. Brazil nuts 14g
    31. Edamame beans 13g
    32. Eggs 13g
    33. Tofu 12g
    34. Cottage cheese 10g
    35. Greek yogurt 10g
    36. Oats 10g
    37. Lentils 7-9g
    38. Kidney beans 8g
    39. Chickpeas 7g
    40. Peas 6g
    41. Quinoa (cooked) 5g

    Meat

    Beef jerky

    Protein content: 30-40g

    Keep some of these dried, cured pieces of lean beef in your gym bag for a meaty hit of protein that doesn’t require firing up the grill. Different brands have different levels of protein – and make sure you check the label for added sugar and the salt content, because both can be alarmingly high.

    Turkey

    Protein content: 30g

    A turkey supper shouldn’t just be for Christmas: the festive bird contains more protein per gram than most other meats including its greatest feathered rival – chicken.

    Chicken

    Protein content: 24g

    The classic lean protein source. Chicken contains vast amounts of protein while being very low in fat, especially if you opt for skinless breasts.

    Beef

    Protein content: 20-24g

    Different cuts have different levels of protein but you can rely on beef to bring in plenty of muscle fuel in whatever form you take it. Opt for leaner cuts to avoid eating too much saturated fat.

    Lamb

    Protein content: 20g

    Those sweet little lambs you see frolicking in the fields every spring? They’re also excellent sources of protein. That’s how Mary got so hench.

    Pork loin

    Protein content: 17-20g

    Pork comes in all manner of glorious varieties, but if you’re eating it to increase your protein intake stick to the stuff at the healthier end of the scale, which is pork loin, not pigs in blankets (around 15g of protein per 100g, if you’re wondering).

    Seafood

    Tuna steak

    Protein content: 32g

    The “chicken of the sea” is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, among other valuable nutrients, as well as protein. It’s far more meaty and flavoursome than the canned version (with a price to match).

    Canned tuna

    Protein content: 25g

    A cupboard well-stocked with tuna canned in spring water will see you through all manner of hardships. It’s packed with protein and virtually fat-free.

    Salmon

    Protein content: 24g

    As well as plenty of protein, the pink flesh of salmon contains loads of omega 3 fatty acids that make it great for a range of things from eye health to reducing the risk of heart disease.

    Sardines

    Protein content: 21g

    This fish is remarkably cheap if you buy the canned kind and it contains omega 3 fats as well last protein. Make sardines your new favourite toast topping.

    Cod

    Protein content: 20g

    This fish is low in fat, but full of flavour. Naturally we’d advise avoiding battered versions due to the extra fat they contain.

    Mackerel

    Protein content: 20g

    Both the fillet and canned versions of this oily fish are great picks for a quick and tasty protein hit. Try not to pair them with chips, though, or you’ll blow your daily salt intake out of the water.

    Mussels

    Protein content: 18g

    Mussels – a famously popular foodstuff in Belgium. Belgium – home of “The Muscles From Brussels”, Jean-Claude van Damme. Coincidence? At 18g of protein per 100g of mussel meat, we think not.

    Prawns

    Protein content: 15-18g

    Quick to prepare and easy to fit into a variety of recipes, prawns are a worthy addition to every shopping list, whether you opt for the finest fresh king prawns or a hefty sack of frozen small ones.

    Meat Replacements

    Seitan

    Protein content: 25g

    This meat alternative is made from wheat gluten, which gives it a texture that’s satisfyingly chewy, unlike softer soy products like tempeh and tofu. It’s also packed with protein, although amounts vary pretty dramatically in the seitan foods and snacks you’ll find on shop shelves, so make sure to check each label for a definitive protein count.

    Tempeh

    Protein content: 20g

    Tofu is not the only soy product in town and tempeh actually outdoes its more famous cousin in terms of its protein and fibre content.

    Quorn mince

    Protein content: 14.5g

    You can’t talk meat-free without mentioning Quorn. As well as containing a solid portion of protein, this mince alternative is high in fibre and low in fat.

    Tofu

    Protein content: 12g

    Sure, we trash-talked tofu when bigging up tempeh, but it’s also a good source of protein. Tofu is also far more widely available than tempeh.

    RECOMMENDED: The 30 Best Vegetarian Sources Of Protein

    Eggs And Dairy

    Parmesan

    Protein content: 32g

    No-one’s saying that eating 100g of parmesan in one sitting is a smart idea, but if you did the protein content would be a big upside.

    Edam

    Protein content: 27g

    Take a tip from the Dutch next time you hit the cheese counter for a tasty treat that’s high in protein. Just make sure you also embrace the Dutch love of cycling too, so you work off the high amounts of saturated fat.

    Cheddar

    Protein content: 25g

    Britain’s favourite cheese brings plenty of protein to the table. That includes the lower-fat versions, if you’re trying to keep your saturated fat intake down.

    Stilton

    Protein content: 24g

    Don’t be shy of the cheeseboard, that’s what we’re learning here. Just behind the mighty cheddar comes stilton, which contains a stiltload of protein at 24g per 100g. All the usual qualms about cheese remain – lots of saturated fat and salt being the biggest concerns – but we’re not sure there’s a tastier way to up your protein intake than a slice of blue.

    Mozzarella

    Protein content: 18g

    One way to look at this is to shriek with joy and assume that pizza is now on the protein-packed menu. Another way, and let’s be honest a better way, is to slice some mozzarella onto a salad rich with greens to up its protein tally.

    Eggs

    Protein content: 13g

    One of the finest ways to up your protein intake at breakfast time, a couple of medium eggs will easily net you over 10g of the stuff.

    Cottage cheese

    Protein content: 10g

    You can get versions of cottage cheese with added protein nowadays, but even the standard stuff contains a good portion. Compared with other cheese it’s also relatively low in fat and salt.

    Greek yogurt

    Protein content: 10g

    As well as protein, Greek (not Greek style) yogurt is packed full of healthy bacteria and enzymes that will do wonders for your digestive health.

    Nuts, Seeds, Legumes And Grains

    Pumpkin Seeds

    Protein content: 30g

    Ever wondered why pumpkins look so swole? It’s because they’re full of pumpkin seeds and you should be too, because along with their impressive protein content, pumpkin seeds offer other nutritional riches in the shape of magnificent magnesium and zincy zinc.

    Peanuts

    Protein content: 25-28g

    The underground legume is a fabulous source of protein, and if you steer clear of the roasted and salted varieties, it’s a fairly healthy snack. In peanut butter form you’ll get around 4g of protein per tablespoon.

    Almonds

    Protein content: 21g

    Along with their high protein content, almonds are also high in fibre and a great source of vitamin E, which is needed to maintain healthy skin and eyes.

    Pistachios

    Protein content: 20g

    Find a friend because this is a prime fist-bump opportunity. Perhaps the tastiest nuts of all are plump with protein. Sure, they’re also pretty fatty and if you opt for the roasted and salted versions, salty as heck, but still, pistachios are on the list.

    Cashew nuts

    Protein content: 18g

    Any open packet of mixed nuts is quickly picked clean of all the cashews. Is that because they are the tastiest of nuts or because they’re high in protein? It’s probably the taste thing, but they’re protein-rich too.

    Chia seeds

    Protein content: 17g

    The most in-vogue seed around is chock-full of fibre and protein, and most of the fat it contains is of the “good” unsaturated variety.

    Walnuts

    Protein content: 15-17g

    Along with a solid amount of protein, walnuts are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, and they look like little brains. Which is a benefit in our book.

    Brazil nuts

    Protein content: 14g

    Fun fact: brazil nut trees can grow to 50m in height and live for up to 1,000 years. They can be so tall that when the fruit ripens and drops it reaches speeds of up to 80km/h on the the way to the ground. Still thinking about protein? The nuts contain protein.

    Edamame beans

    Protein content: 13g

    These tasty beans can be bought frozen to consume at your convenience and add a shot of fibre, vitamins and minerals to your diet alongside the protein. If you find them a tad bland try livening them up with fresh lemon juice, smoked paprika and a pinch of salt.

    Oats

    Protein content: 10g

    You can get souped-up versions of oats that have even more protein crammed into them, but the bog-standard supermarket own-brand versions aren’t light on the stuff. No breakfast is complete without them.

    Lentils

    Protein content: 7-9g

    Whatever your favourite type of lentil is, you can be sure it’s adding some extra protein to your plate. Use them to thicken meaty stews and bulk up salads.

    Chickpeas

    Protein content: 7g

    One of the earliest cultivated legumes – dating back 7,500 years in the Middle East – chickpeas are particularly rich in folate, a B vitamin that helps to support and maintain a healthy nervous system. Blend with lemon, fresh garlic and tahini for an easy and delicious homemade hummus.

    Kidney beans

    Protein content: 8g

    A 120g serving (half a regular can) provides an impressive 7.4g of fibre, which plays a key role in healthy digestive function, as well as 8.3g of protein. Don’t confine these tasty beans to chilli con carne – they’re great in curries, stews and salads too.

    Peas

    Protein content: 6g

    It may seem the most basic, bland, at-least-the-children’ll-eat-them legume there is, but a few spoonfuls of peas adds a useful amount of protein to your plate.

    Quinoa

    Protein content: 5g (cooked)

    Quinoa’s protein stats look more impressive when you look at its uncooked numbers, but at 5g for 100g – not a mad amount of quinoa, compared with chomping down 100g of parmesan for example – it’s a good way to get some extra protein on your plate, especially if you’re not a meat-eater.