The 10 Best Foods High in Protein + Protein Snacks

Protein is a macronutrient necessary for the proper growth and function of the human body. A deficiency in protein leads to muscle atrophy and impaired functioning of the human body in general.

Athletes and those looking to build muscle might benefit from increased protein intake, but they should be aware of the risks. Excess protein is typically processed by the body, but may cause a strain on the liver and kidneys, and may also increase cancer risk (particularly from animal sources).

The Daily Value (%DV) for protein is set at 50 grams per day, but individuals with more muscle mass may require more.

Foods highest in protein per calorie include fish, cheese, turkey, chicken, lean beef, pork, tofu, yogurt, milk, beans, lentils, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Below is a list of foods with the highest protein to calorie ratio, for more information, see the sections on protein dense foods, other protein rich foods, low calorie high protein snacks, and protein isolates.


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Top 10 Protein Food List

3 Salmon Fillets

1. Fish (Cod, Tuna, Salmon) - 17g (35% DV) in 3 oz (85g)

1 gram protein per 4.2 calories
20g (41% DV) in 100g

Other fish high in protein per fillet(3oz or 85g): Tuna (22g), Salmon (22g), Halibut (22g), Snapper (22g), Perch(21g), Flounder and Sole (21g), Cod (20g), Tilapia (17g).
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


A bowl of non-fat cottage cheese

2. Cheese (Non-Fat Mozzarella) - 36g (71% DV) in 1 cup, shredded (113g)

1 gram protein per 4.4 calories*
32g (63% DV) in 100g

Other cheese high in protein per ounce(28g): Parmesan (10g), Romano (9g), Low-fat Swiss Cheese (8g), Low-fat Cheddar (6g), Low-fat Cottage Cheese (5g). *Low Fat Mozzarella and Cottage Cheese provide the most protein per calorie, full fat cheeses typically only provide 1g protein per 20 calories and are less optimal sources of protein.
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Roasted Turkey Breast

3. Lean Turkey and Chicken (Turkey Breast) - 25g (50% DV) in 3 oz (85g)

1 gram protein per 4.5 calories
30g (59% DV) in 100g

More Chicken and Turkey: Chicken Leg - Drumsticks (60g) provides 16g protein. Chicken Thigh (37g) provides 9g protein. 3oz serving of Chicken Breast (85grams) provides 14g protein.
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A Beef Roast

4. Lean Beef and Veal (Low Fat) - 31g (61% DV) in 3 oz (85g)

1 gram protein per 5.3 calories
36g (72% DV) in 100g

T-Bone Steak 3oz (28g) provides 19g of protein, 1 Piece of Beef Jerky (20g) provides 7g of protein.
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A Pork Chop

5. Pork Loin (Chops) - 41g (82% DV) in 1 chop (137g)

1 gram protein per 5.4 calories
30g (60% DV) in 100g

Sirloin Roast 3oz (28g) provides 23g of protein, Ham 3oz (28g) provides 18g of protein, 1 slice of bacon (8g) provides 3g of protein.
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A block of firm tofu

6. Tofu - 6g (13% DV) in 1 slice (84g)

1 gram protein per 7.9 calories
7g (15% DV) in 100g

1 cup (252g) of firm tofu provides 20g protein. 1 cup of soft tofu (248g) provides 16g protein. 1 cup of tempeh (166g) provides 31g protein. Click to see complete nutrition facts.


A bowl of yogurt and a cup of milk

7. Yogurt, Milk, and Soymilk - 14g (27% DV) in 1 cup (8 fl oz) (245g)

1 gram protein per 9.3 calories
6g (11% DV) in 100g

1 cup skim milk (245g) provides 8g protein, 1 cup soymilk (243g) provides 8g protein.
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Green Soybeans in a Bowl

8. Beans (Mature Soy Beans) - 31g (62% DV) in 1 cup (172g)

1 gram protein per 9.6 calories
31g (62% DV) in 1 cup (172g)
18g (36% DV) in 100g

Other beans high in protein per cup cooked: Kidney Beans (17g), White Beans (17g), Lima Beans (15g), Fava Beans (14g), Black Beans (15g), Mung Beans (14g).
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Click for full list of high protein beans.


Eggs

9. Eggs (Especially Egg Whites) - 6g (13% DV) in 1 large (50g)

1 gram protein per 11.9 calories
13g (25% DV) in 100g

1 Egg White (33g) provides 4g protein, 1g protein to 4.4 calories. 1 cup of scrambled eggs (220g) provides 22g protein.
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


A pile of squash seeds

10. Nuts and Seeds (Pumpkin, Squash, and Watermelon Seeds) - 8g (17% DV) in 1 oz (28g)

1 gram protein per 19.1 calories
30g (60% DV) in 100g
Other nuts and seeds high in protein (grams protein per ounce (28g)): Peanuts (7g), Almonds (6g), Pistachios (6g), Sunflower Seeds (6g), Flaxseed (5g), Mixed Nuts (4g).
Click to see complete nutrition facts.
Click for full list of high protein nuts.


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Top 10 Foods Highest in Protein Per Calorie

Printable One Page Sheet

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A printable list of high protein foods

How much protein do you need?

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 52 grams for adult men, 46 grams for adult women, and 71 grams for pregnant and lactating women. Your own protein needs may vary by your level of activity and muscle mass. Refer to the chart below for specific RDAs by age and gender.

Graph of protein Recommended Daily Allowances for different demographics

Low Calorie Snacks High in Protein (50~200 Calories Each)

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Click each heading below for more information from HealthAliciousNess.com

#1: Spirulina
57g (115% DV) in 100g
4g (8% DV) in 1 tablespoon (7g)
1 gram protein per 5.1 calories
Buy Spirulina from Amazon.com
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#2: Dry Roasted Soy Beans
43g (87% DV) in 100g
75g (150% DV) in 1 tablespoon (172g)
1 gram protein per 10.4 calories
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#3: Parmesan Cheese
42g (83% DV) in 100g
2g (4% DV) in 1 tbsp (5g)
1 gram protein per 10.7 calories
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#4: Lean Veal and Beef
37g (73% DV) in 100g
31g (62% DV) in 3 oz (85g)
1 gram protein per 5.5 calories
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#5: Lamb (Lean Shoulder)
36g (71% DV) in 100g
20g (39% DV) in 1 chop (55g)
1 gram protein per 7.8 calories
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#6: Chicken and Turkey Breast
33g (67% DV) in 100g
29g (58% DV) in 1/2 breast, bone and skin removed (86g)
1 gram protein per 5.7 calories
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#7: Squash and Pumpkin Seeds
30g (60% DV) in 100g
8g (17% DV) in 1/2 breast, bone and skin removed (28g)
1 gram protein per 19.1 calories
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#8: Non-Fat Mozzarella Cheese
32g (63% DV) in 100g
36g (71% DV) in 1 cup, shredded (113g)
1 gram protein per 4.4 calories
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#9: Fish (Tuna)
29g (58% DV) in 100g
25g (49% DV) in 3 oz (85g)
1 gram protein per 4.5 calories
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#10: Pork Loin (Chops)
28g (55% DV) in 100g
22g (43% DV) in 3 oz (78g)
1 gram protein per 8.5 calories
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#1: Vital Wheat Gluten
1 gram protein per 4.9 calories
64g (128% DV) in 3 ounces (85g)
75g (150% DV) in 100g
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#2: Crab
1 gram protein per 5.1 calories
26g (52% DV) in 1 leg (134g)
19g (39% DV) in 100g
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#3: Lobster
1 gram protein per 5.5 calories
43g (86% DV) in 1 lobster (163g)
26g (53% DV) in 100g
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#4: Octopus
1 gram protein per 5.5 calories
25g (51% DV) in 3 oz (85g)
30g (60% DV) in 100g
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#5: Fish Roe (Eggs)
1 gram protein per 7 calories
24g (48% DV) in 3 oz (85g)
29g (57% DV) in 100g
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#6: Yeast Extract Spread (Marmite)
1 gram protein per 7.7 calories
1g (3% DV) in 1 tsp (6g)
24g (48% DV) in 100g
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#7: Abalone
1 gram protein per 9.5 calories
17g (33% DV) in 3 oz (85g)
20g (39% DV) in 100g
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#8: Tempeh
1 gram protein per 9.8 calories
0g (0% DV) in (0g)
20g (40% DV) in 100g
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#9: 100% Cocoa Powder
1 gram protein per 11.4 calories
17g (34% DV) in 1 cup (86g)
20g (39% DV) in 100g
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#10: Lentils
1 gram protein per 12.7 calories
18g (36% DV) in 1 cup (198g)
9g (18% DV) in 100g
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#11: Peanuts (Dry-Roasted)
1 gram protein per 24.5 calories
36g (72% DV) in 1 cup (146g)
24g (49% DV) in 100g
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#12: Pistachios
1 gram protein per 27.2 calories
26g (52% DV) in 1 cup (123g)
21g (42% DV) in 100g
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#13: Dried Sweet Whey
1 gram protein per 27.2 calories
19g (38% DV) in 1 cup (145g)
13g (26% DV) in 100g
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#14: Almonds
1 gram protein per 27.6 calories
30g (60% DV) in 1 cup, whole (143g)
21g (42% DV) in 100g
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#15: Sunflower Seeds
1 gram protein per 27.8 calories
29g (59% DV) in 1 cup (140g)
21g (42% DV) in 100g
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#16: Flaxseeds
1 gram protein per 29.7 calories
31g (62% DV) in 1 cup, whole (168g)
18g (37% DV) in 100g
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#17: Quinoa
1 gram protein per 30 calories
8g (17% DV) in 1 cup (185g)
4g (9% DV) in 100g
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#18: Sesame Seeds
1 gram protein per 31.8 calories
26g (50% DV) in 1 cup (144g)
18g (35% DV) in 100g
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#19: Zwieback
1 gram protein per 42.6 calories
1g (1% DV) in 1 toast, Gerber Zwieback (7g)
10g (20% DV) in 100g
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#20: Pine Nuts
1 gram protein per 48.1 calories
18g (36% DV) in 1 cup (135g)
14g (27% DV) in 100g
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#21: Pecans
1 gram protein per 76.8 calories
9g (18% DV) in 1 cup, halves (99g)
9g (18% DV) in 100g
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As obtaining too much protein may have adverse health affects, use of protein isolates should be approached with caution and is best for those looking to moderately boost their protein intake or gain weight/muscle mass. For more information on gaining weight see the article on high calorie foods.
  1. Unsweetened Dry Gelatin
    86 grams protein per 100 grams
    335 calories
    1g protein per 3.9cal
  2. Egg White Powder
    82 grams protein per 100 grams
    376 calories
    1g protein per 4.6cal
  3. Soy Protein Isolate
    81 grams protein per 100 grams
    338 calories
    1g protein per 4.2cal
  4. Vital Wheat Gluten
    75 grams protein per 100 grams
    370 calories
    1g protein per 4.9cal
  5. Spirulina (Dried Seaweed)
    58 grams protein per 100 grams
    290 calories
    1g protein per 5cal
  6. De-fatted Peanut Flour
    52 grams protein per 100 grams
    327 calories
    1g protein per 6.3cal
  7. Low-fat Sunflower Seed Flour
    48 grams protein per 100 grams
    326 calories
    1g protein per 6.8cal
  8. Low-fat Soy Flour
    47 grams protein per 100 grams
    372 calories
    1g protein per 7.9cal
  9. Non-fat Milk Powder
    36 grams protein per 100 grams
    362 calories
    1g protein per 10cal
  10. Dried Whey
    13 grams protein per 100 grams
    353 calories
    1g protein per 27.2cal

  • 1. Fish (Cod, Tuna, Salmon) - 17g (35% DV) in 3 oz (85g)
  • 2. Cheese (Non-Fat Mozzarella) - 36g (71% DV) in 1 cup, shredded (113g)
  • 3. Lean Turkey and Chicken (Turkey Breast) - 25g (50% DV) in 3 oz (85g)
  • 4. Lean Beef and Veal (Low Fat) - 31g (61% DV) in 3 oz (85g)
  • 5. Pork Loin (Chops) - 41g (82% DV) in 1 chop (137g)
  • 6. Tofu - 6g (13% DV) in 1 slice (84g)
  • 7. Yogurt, Milk, and Soymilk - 14g (27% DV) in 1 cup (8 fl oz) (245g)
  • 8. Beans (Mature Soy Beans) - 31g (62% DV) in 1 cup (172g)
  • 9. Eggs (Especially Egg Whites) - 6g (13% DV) in 1 large (50g)
  • 10. Pumpkin Seeds - 8g (17% DV) in 1 oz (28g)
  • To print this list just copy and paste it to a word processor, or text file.

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20-28.

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