Top 10 Foods Highest in Protein

Photo of Daisy Whitbread Written by Daisy Whitbread
BSc (Hons) MSc DipION
Photo of Dr. Patricia Shelton Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Patricia Shelton
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Top 10 Foods Highest in Protein

Protein is a macronutrient that forms the building blocks of the human body. It is necessary for many different functions, including growth and repair of all types of tissues, formation of enzymes and hormones, immune system function, and regulation of fluid and nutrient balance. A deficiency in protein leads to muscle atrophy and impaired functioning of the body in general. (1)

How much protein do you need?

The reference dietary intake (RDI) of protein is between 46 and 63 grams for most adults, with pregnant and lactating women needing up to 65 grams per day. (2) The daily value (DV) for protein is set at 50 grams per day (3), which is an average that works for most people. Athletes or other people looking to build muscle mass may want to consume more protein.

High protein foods include lean chicken, lean pork, fish, lean beef, tofu, beans, lentils, low-fat yogurt, milk, cheese, seeds, nuts, and eggs.

Below is a list of healthy protein-rich foods sorted by common serving size. Use the protein nutrient ranking to sort by 100 gram or 200 calorie serving sizes. For more information, see the lists of vegetarian protein, high protein fruits, and high protein vegetables.

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A printable list of high protein foods.

High Protein Foods by Nutrient Density (Most Protein per 100 Grams)

1. Spirulina 100 grams 115% DV
2. Dry-Roasted Soybeans 100 grams 87% DV
3. Grated Parmesan Cheese 100 grams 83% DV
4. Lean Veal Top Round 100 grams 73% DV
5. Lamb Shoulder Roast 100 grams 71% DV
6. Lean Chicken Breast 100 grams 64% DV
7. Non-Fat Mozzarella 100 grams 63% DV
8. Lean Pork Chops 100 grams 62% DV
9. Tuna 100 grams 60% DV
10. Squash and Pumpkin Seeds 100 grams 60% DV

High Protein Isolates and Powders (Non-Commercial)

1. Soy Protein Isolate 1 tbsp 12% DV
2. Gelatin 1 tbsp 12% DV
3. Egg White Powder 1 tbsp 12% DV
4. Spirulina (Dried Seaweed) 1 tbsp 8% DV
5. Non-fat Milk Powder 1 tbsp 5% DV
6. Whey Powder per tbsp 2% DV

Protein for Vegetarians and Vegans

Vegetarian protein foods include tofu, beans, lentils, yogurt, milk, cheese, green peas, nuts, seeds, whole grains, peanut butter, eggs, and white button mushrooms. See the list of vegetarian protein foods.

Vegan protein foods are similar to vegetarian sources, but exclude yogurt, milk, cheese, and eggs, because vegans do not eat any foods that originate from animals. Instead vegans can eat high protein vegetables like lima beans, spinach, and corn. See the list of vegan protein foods.

High Protein Meals

1. Tuna Sandwich
Calories Protein Fat Carbs
(14% DV)
(57% DV)
(7% DV)
(10% DV)

Ingredients: 3oz canned tuna, 1 leaf romaine lettuce, 1 slice of tomato, 2 slices whole wheat bread.
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2. Banana Parfait
Calories Protein Fat Carbs
(21% DV)
(33% DV)
(26% DV)
(19% DV)

Ingredients: 6oz of non-fat yogurt, 1/4 cup of uncooked oats, 1oz handful of pumpkin seeds, 1 medium banana.
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3. Chicken Salad
Calories Protein Fat Carbs
(21% DV)
(130% DV)
(22% DV)
(4% DV)

Ingredients: 6oz chicken breast, 2 cups romaine lettuce, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 oz grated Parmesan.
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4. Tofu Stir Fry
Calories Protein Fat Carbs
(34% DV)
(102% DV)
(57% DV)
(16% DV)

Ingredients: 1 cup firm tofu, 1/2 cup onions, 1 cup broccoli, 1 tsp ginger, 1/2 cup brown rice, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp soy sauce.
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5. Lentil Curry with Peanuts
Calories Protein Fat Carbs
(34% DV)
(58% DV)
(47% DV)
(26% DV)

Ingredients: 1 cup of cooked lentils, 1/4 onion, 1 tblsp curry powder, 1/5 cup brown rice, 1 tblsp sesame oil, 1oz dry-roasted peanuts
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Build your own recipe by adding foods to the rnutrition calculator.

Use the ranking tool links below to select foods and create your own food list to share or print.

View more nutrients with the nutrient ranking tool, or see ratios with the nutrient ratio tool.

Data Sources and References

  1. Medline Plus on Protein
  2. Recommended Dietary Allowances: 10th Edition. National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on the Tenth Edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989.
  3. FDA Information Page on Protein
  4. U.S. Agricultural Research Service Food Data Central
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