Getting enough protein daily is essential for your overall health. Healthy protein sources include eggs, nuts, lean meats, fish, dairy, and certain grains. Protein powders can also be a great support is they are complete, what is a complete protein? What also makes up the building blocks of protein and why are the buildings blocks of protein important?
Proteins are a large category of molecules that support cell structure, immune function, movement, chemical reactions, hormone synthesis, and more. They’re all made up of tiny building blocks called amino acids. Nine of these are essential–meaning your body needs them but can’t make them on its own, so you need to get them in your diet.
Not only is protein essential for your health but consuming it can keep you feeling full and satisfied, which supports a healthy body weight (3Trusted Source).
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is set at 0.36 grams (g) of protein per pound of your body weight (0.8 g per kilogram). Remember that this reflects the minimum protein required to meet your body’s needs (4Trusted Source).
Here are 16 delicious foods that are high in protein.
Whole eggs are a good source of protein that’s easy to absorb, and they’re also an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants (5Trusted Source).
Remember that egg whites are almost pure protein, but whole eggs that include the yolk provide many more nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats.
Other high protein nuts include pistachios, which deliver 5.73 g per 1-ounce (28.35 g) serving and cashews, which contain 4.34 g of protein per 1-ounce (28.35-g) serving (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
3. Chicken breast
Chicken breast is an excellent choice if you’re trying to bincrease your protein intake. In addition to protein, chicken provides a variety of B vitamins, plus minerals like zinc and selenium (10Trusted Source).
One half of a chicken breast (86 g) provides 26.7 g of protein (10Trusted Source).
4. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is a type of cheese that is low in fat and calories yet high in protein. It’s rich in calcium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and various other nutrients (11Trusted Source).
Other high protein cheeses include cheddar cheese, which provides 3.96 g of protein per 17-g slice, and mozzarella, which provides 6.29 g of protein per 1 ounce (28.35 g) (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
5. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt, also called strained yogurt, is a very thick type of yogurt high in protein.
Other yogurt products that are high in protein include unsweetened low fat yogurt, which provides 11.9 g of protein per 8-ounce (227-g) container, and kefir, which provides 9.21 g of protein per 1 cup (243 mL) (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
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Dairy milk contains a little of nearly every nutrient that your body needs. It’s a good source of high quality protein, and it’s high in vitamins and minerals, like calcium, phosphorus, and riboflavin (vitamin B2) (17Trusted Source).
Many people with lactose intolerance can’t tolerate milk and other dairy products, and they avoid many dairy-containing foods (18Trusted Source).
Lentils are among the richest sources of plant-based protein, making them an excellent choice if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Plus, they’re loaded with other nutrients, too, including fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese (19Trusted Source).
Studies show that people who regularly consume lentils and other legumes have a lower risk of developing health conditions like heart disease and fatty liver disease (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
100 g (about 1/2 cup) of cooked lentils provides 9.02 g of protein (19Trusted Source).
Other high-protein legumes include chickpeas, which provide 7.05 g of protein per 100 g cooked, and black beans, which provide 8.86 g of protein per 100 g cooked (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
Red meat can be a part of a healthy diet, but it’s best to moderate your intake. Consuming high amounts of red meat has been linked to a higher risk of developing certain health conditions, including colorectal cancer (25Trusted Source).
Try cutting back on red meat and eating plant-based protein, fish, and poultry more frequently.
A 3-ounce (85-g) serving of lean beef provides 24.6 g of protein (24Trusted Source).
People who include a lot of fish in their diet tend to have a lower risk of health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Plus, fatty fish like salmon and herring are high in omega-3 fats, which have powerful benefits for your overall health, including supporting heart health (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).
All types of fish are high in protein. For example, half a salmon fillet (124 g) provides 30.5 g of protein, while a cod fillet (180 g) provides 41 g of protein (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).
Quinoa is often referred to as a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own. However, it actually contains insufficient amounts of certain amino acids, like leucine (33Trusted Source).
When you’re pressed for time and unable to prepare a meal, protein powder can come in handy.
You can easily add protein powders like whey and pea protein to shakes, smoothies, energy balls, yogurt, and more to increase the protein and fullness factor.
Whey protein powder provides about 16.6 g of protein per scoop (28.6 g), while pea protein provides 15 g of protein per scoop (20 g) (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).
Note that the protein content per scoop differs between products, even when the scoop size is the same.
12. Ezekiel bread
Ezekiel bread is different from most other breads. It’s made of organic and sprouted whole grains and legumes, including millet, barley, spelt, wheat, soybeans, and lentils.
Compared with other breads, like white bread, Ezekiel bread is high in protein, fiber, and various important nutrients.
One slice (50 g) of Ezekiel bread provides 6 g of protein (36).
However, remember that the exact nutritional content of Ezekiel bread will vary between products.
13. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of minerals like iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. Plus, they’re loaded with plant-based protein and fiber (37Trusted Source).
Try adding pumpkin seeds to salads, baked goods, oatmeal, or yogurt, or mix them with unsweetened dried fruit and almonds for a convenient snack.
A 1/4 cup (29.5 g) of pumpkin seeds provides 8.8 g of protein (37Trusted Source).
Other high protein seeds include sunflower seeds, which provide 7.25 g per 1/4-cup (35-g) serving, and flax seeds, which provide 7.5 g of protein per 1/4-cup (42-g) serving (38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source).
14. Turkey breast
Turkey breast consists mostly of protein, with very little fat and few calories. It also contains several vitamins and minerals, including selenium, zinc, and vitamins B12 and B6 (40Trusted Source).
A 3-ounce (85-g) serving of turkey provides 25.6 g of protein (40Trusted Source).
Shellfish, including shrimp, oysters, clams, and scallops are excellent sources of protein. Plus, shellfish contain healthy fats and a number of vitamins and minerals, including selenium, zinc, vitamin B12, and iron (41Trusted Source).
A 3-ounce (85-g) serving of cooked clams provides 21.8 g of protein, while the same serving of shrimp provides 20.4 g of protein (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).
Eating peanuts and peanut butter may help make you feel full due to their high protein content. In fact, studies show that adding peanut butter to a high carb meal may help reduce blood sugar spikes after the meal (44Trusted Source).
A 1-ounce (28.35-g) serving of peanuts provides 7.31 g of protein, while a 2-tablespoon (32-g) serving of smooth peanut butter provides 7.2 g of protein (43Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source).