Protein is a core macronutrient that we need to ensure we get enough of every day. Protein is in every single cell in our bodies.
It builds and repairs tissues, and is the building block for bones, muscles, skin, cartilage, and blood. Our body also uses protein to make enzymes and hormones.
Protein does wonders for our bodies, especially when trying to lose weight. Eating enough protein helps you feel fully satisfied after your meals.
If you are trying to build muscle mass while losing body fat at the same time, protein is key.
Here are 33 high protein foods that you should try to incorporate into your diet as much as you can.
Whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, meat eater, or flexitarian, there are plenty of sources were you can find protein.
Continue reading to find the highest protein foods along with their benefits and some suggestions of how you can incorporate them into your diet.
The 33 Best High Protein Foods To Lose Weight
1 cup of spinach (cooked) contains just 41 calories and 5 grams of protein. Not only is spinach high in protein, but it’s high in iron and vitamin C as well.
It is a true superfood that is loaded with nutrients. Spinach is great for skin, hair, and bone health.
Spinach is amazing for people with high blood pressure due to the high amount of potassium that it contains. If you don’t like eating salads, you can add spinach to your smoothies.
You can also include cooked spinach in pasta dishes, soups, stews, stir-fries, and omelets.
Cashews contain 5 grams of protein and 157 calories per 1 oz. Just 1/4 cup of cashews contains 98% of the daily recommended value of copper!
It is also extremely high in phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. These are all great for bone health.
They are also high in antioxidants so they are great for cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases.
You can eat cashews as a snack, make some granola, use them in sauces (cashew mac and cheese is delicious), or make raw desserts out of them.
3. Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Sun-dried tomatoes are not typically a food that people would think of as high protein, but they definitely are!
1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes contains 8 grams of protein and 139 calories. It also contains 7 grams of fiber which is a nutrient that many Americans are deficient in.
One serving of sun-dried tomatoes also contains 39% of the recommended daily intake of potassium, which is essential for muscle contraction.
This dried fruit is also high in thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. A great way to include sun-dried tomatoes in your diet is to make a delicious pasta sauce out of them. You can also add them to salads, stir-fries, and soups.
Almonds are another nut that is high in protein. 1 oz of almonds contains 6 grams of protein and 164 calories.
It is highly nutritional, containing a lot of vitamin E (great for skin and hair), calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, selenium, and magnesium.
They are known to boost brain health due to the high level of nutrients that they contain. Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, which are both nutrients that are vital for brain health.
People who have Alzheimer’s are often recommended to eat lots of almonds. You can eat almonds as a snack, in trail mixes, granola, cereal, or on top of your oatmeal.
People usually think of fruit as a source of carbs, not protein. However, guava is a fruit that contains a lot of protein.
Just 1 cup contains 4.2 grams of protein and 112 calories. One cup also contains 9 grams of fiber, which is amazing for weight loss and regular bowel movements.
This serving of guava also contains over 600% of your daily recommended value for vitamin C!
You can add this tropical fruit to your smoothies, or use it as a topping for oatmeal. You can also eat them plain as a snack.
6. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds (shelled) have an impressive 9 grams of protein per 1 oz! They benefit your heart, liver, and immune system.
They are also great for helping to fight diabetes, and they are beneficial for men’s prostate health. They are a nutritional powerhouse full of magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc.
Pumpkin seeds are also very high in antioxidants, which helps to fight against cancer. You can roast pumpkin seeds, sprinkle them on your smoothie bowls, and add them to oatmeal or cereal.
You can also create trail mix with them or energy bars.
One artichoke has 4.2 grams of protein. Its fiber content is even more impressive than the protein content! One medium artichoke has 10.3 grams of fiber, which is 40% of the daily recommended intake of fiber.
Artichokes contain lots of folic acid which is especially beneficial for unborn babies because it protects them against neural damage. They also contain luteolin which helps to prevent against inflammation and cancer.
Additionally, they contain inulin which improves your gut health. Artichokes are delicious roasted, and they make a delicious addition to pizza as well.
Incorporating them into dips such as artichoke and spinach dip always tastes great too!
8. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have been surging in popularly recently and there’s a good reason why. 1 oz of chia seeds contains 5 grams of protein.
The most appealing thing about chia seeds is that they have a great ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6s. 1 oz of chia seeds also contains a whopping 11 grams of fiber!
They are also loaded with antioxidants which will damage harmful free radicals in the body. Try making a chia seed pudding, or sprinkling them on your oatmeal or cereal.
Add chia seeds to smoothies and salads, and use them in your baking as well! You can even use chia seeds as an egg substitute for baking.
9. Green Peas
Green peas have such a high protein content compared to most vegetables. Just 1 cup of green peas has 8 grams of protein!
This is eight times the protein that spinach contains. Peas are amazing for preventing stomach cancer.
This is because they contain lots of coumestrol, which is a health-protective polyphenol. One study discovered that you only need 2 milligrams of coumestrol a day to prevent stomach cancer.
One cup of peas contains over 10 milligrams of this polynutrient! You can eat peas raw, or cooked. Add them to your salads, or eat them as a side to your main meal. You can also make pea soup.
10. 1% Organic, Grass-Fed Milk
8oz of this type of milk contains 8 grams of protein. The reason why you want to choose grass-fed and organic milk is because it will have more nutrients.
For example, grass-fed cows have been proven to have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the milk.
Also, organic milk does not contain any hormones, pesticides, or antibiotics. The fat in 1% milk is beneficial because it will help to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins.
You can add milk to your cereal, cook oatmeal in it, or use it in baking.
11. Grass-Fed Beef
A 4 oz strip of steak contains an impressive 26 grams of protein. Whether you eat steak, burgers, or any other type of beef, it’s important to choose grass-fed.
Yes, it is more expensive, but the price is worth it. Grass-fed beef is immensely healthier for you, it naturally is leaner and will contain fewer calories than conventional meat raised in a factory.
Just like grass-fed milk, grass-fed beef also contains a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Grass-fed beef also contains more cla (conjugated linoleic acid), which aids with the reduction of heart disease and cancer.
12. 2% Greek Yogurt
Yogurt is not only high in protein (20 grams of protein per 7 oz), but it’s extremely beneficial for weight loss as well. Yogurt is full of probiotics that increase the amount of good bacteria in your gut.
A healthy gut aids with proper digestion and contributes to weight loss. When buying yogurt, it’s important to make sure that it is unsweetened.
Many yogurts on the market aren’t healthy due to the high amounts of processed sugars that they contain. Yogurt is a great breakfast food, especially served with fruit and granola.
Although nowhere near as popular as beef, bison is arguably a much better choice. 4 oz of bison meat has 23 grams of protein.
Even though it contains a bit less protein than grass-fed beef, it has half the amount of fat and fewer calories as well.
Bison is actually one of the leanest meats around. Bison contains a lot of the similar nutrients that beef has, such as iron and b12. B12 is vital for our neurological health; it prevents memory loss and fatigue.
14. Gruyere Cheese
Gruyere cheese is a type of Swiss cheese. Just 1 oz of this cheese contains 8 grams of protein.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the protein that is found in dairy products (such as Gruyere cheese) is complete.
Complete proteins provide all of the essential amino acids that we need. 1 oz of this cheese also contains 29% of the daily recommended value of calcium.
You can add this cheese to your sandwiches, or even put it on a cheese platter with crackers and fruit.
This grain has an impressive 6 grams of protein per just 1/4 cup. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that triticale exists.
It has been around since the 19th century, when researchers bred both wheat and rye together, to produce triticale.
This grain is easy to digest, boosts your energy levels, contributes to strong bones, and helps to manage diabetes.
It has a higher content of fiber, protein, and minerals than rye and wheat have. It is full of manganese, iron, copper, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
You can buy triticale flakes to make oatmeal with or eat it as cereal in the morning.
This meat is not always easy to find, but it is available in many supermarkets. A 4 oz ostrich patty contains an impressive 29 grams of protein!
Even though it is technically a red meat, ostrich meat has less fat than all red meats and even white meats such as turkey and chicken.
Ostrich meat is full of b12 and iron, and it also contains an essential nutrient called choline. This nutrient contributes to fat loss in the body.
On average, 1/2 cup of beans contains 7-10 grams of protein, depending on what type you choose. Beans are an incredible protein source for vegans and vegetarians.
They are full of iron, phosphorous, and fiber. Beans have one of the highest fiber contents out there, which is amazing for digestion.
Whether you prefer black beans, kidney beans, white beans, or pinto beans, there are so many options to choose from.
Use beans to make a delicious chili, use black beans in tacos or burritos, or stick to the basics with a bowl of rice and beans.
4 oz of pork contains 24 grams of protein. If you are unsure of what cut to buy, the best and healthiest option is tenderloin.
This contains the least amount of fat and the highest amount of protein. Pork has many beneficial amino acids which contribute to fat burning in the body.
Just like other meats, pork also contains b12 which is essential for the proper functioning of our bodies.
Eggs are one of the easiest ways to up your protein intake, which is why they are a favorite for vegetarians all over the world. One single egg contains 7 grams of protein and only 85 calories.
Although eggs have been getting a bad rap lately from the amount of cholesterol they contain, it’s hard to ignore the array of nutrients that they contain.
Eggs are full of vitamin A, potassium, folic acid, choline, and biotin. According to the usda, choline is especially beneficial for fat burning.
Many people make the mistake of only eating the egg whites and avoiding the yolk, however, the yolk is where most of the nutrients are.
Halibut is a favorite fish of many. Just 3 oz of this fish contains only 77 calories and 16 grams of protein.
This fish is rich in nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium, selenium, magnesium, vitamin b12, niacin, and most importantly, omega-3 essential fatty acids.
The omega-3s in this fish have many cardiovascular benefits. Halibut is also great for improving circulation and preventing blood clotting.
Halibut also boosts the amount of good cholesterol (hdl) in your body. Try cooking halibut at a simmer in some vegetable broth full of fresh herbs.
You can also mix marinated chunks of halibut with vegetables such as carrots and broccoli, and broil it all together. Once it’s done, brush with olive oil and enjoy.
Per 3 oz of cooked chicken breast, there are 26 grams of protein. Chicken is a popular meat for many athletes due to its muscle-building capacity.
Chicken is high in many nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium.
It is also full of vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption. This helps to strengthen bones and keep them healthy.
The phosphorous in chicken also contributes to bone health, and dental care as well. Include chicken in your stir-fries, roasts, salads, tacos, and whatever else you desire.
Teff is a tiny grain that is grown in Ethiopia. It is used to make injera (a sourdough flatbread).
Just 1/4 cup of this grain contains 7 grams of protein. Unlike many other grains, teff is gluten-free. It is also very high in iron, making it a great option for people with anemia.
Teff contains all 8 essential amino acids that our body needs for growth and repair. It is also full of calcium, phosphorous, copper, thiamin, and vitamin C.
This is very impressive, especially since vitamin C isn’t usually found in grains. A great way to eat teff is to make teff porridge, topping it with some fruit, nuts, and seeds.
23. Wild Salmon
Wild salmon is arguably one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there. A 3 oz serving of wild salmon contains 17 grams of protein.
Wild caught salmon (not farmed, that contains much fewer nutrients) is full of omega-3 fatty acids, and it’s one of the best sources out there.
A serving of wild salmon is full of vitamin D (127% of the daily recommend value) and selenium (78.3% of the drv). It is also high in vitamin b3, b12, biotin, iodine, and potassium.
Wild caught salmon helps to prevent osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. If you regularly eat salmon, but it’s not wild-caught, consider making the switch and your body will thank you.
24. Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
Sprouted whole grain bread is the healthiest version of sliced bread that you can eat. 2 slices of this bread contain 8-12 grams of protein, depending on what brand you buy.
Even though bread usually gets a bad rep due to the high amount of carbs and gluten it contains, not all bread is bad.
Yes, white bread should be avoided, but sprouted whole grain bread is a whole other story. It is nutrient dense and will keep you full for much longer.
Sprouted whole grain bread also contains lots of fiber. Try making a sandwich with hummus, cucumbers, lettuce, avocado, onions, tomatoes, and any other veggies that you want. It’s the perfect lunch to bring to school or work that will keep you full and energized for hours.
25. Light Canned Tuna
Light canned tuna is super affordable source of protein. 3 oz of this tuna contains 16 grams of protein.
It’s important to buy light canned tuna in water (not oil), because this will of course contain less fat and be healthier.
This serving of tuna contains 57% of the daily recommended value of niacin. It also contains b6, b12, phosphorous, and 43% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A, which is great for eye health.
Consume tuna with crackers, or make a delicious tuna salad to eat for lunch.
26. Peanut Butter
Not only is peanut butter a great source of healthy fats, but it is high in protein too. 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contains 7 grams of protein.
Peanut butter is very filling due to both the protein and fat that it contains. It is full of potassium, vitamin E, magnesium and it boosts energy as well.
When purchasing peanut butter, make sure to buy the all natural one, compared to the processed ones that are full of sugar, additional oils, and other ingredients. The more natural, the better!
Enjoy peanut butter toast in the morning, or add this creamy spread to your oatmeal. Use it in baking, or make peanut butter vegetable curries for dinner!
27. Pacific Cod
Cod is another great fish to add to your diet if you aren’t already eating it. 3 oz of cod contains 15 grams of protein.
It is full of amino acids, which boost your metabolism and keeps your heart healthy. Cod is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
If you have high triglycerides, Pacific cod is great because it will lower them. Pacific cod also boosts good cholesterol (hdl) while lowering bad cholesterol (ldl).
Along with beans, lentils are a life saver for vegans and vegetarians. 1 cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein. Lentils are very low in fat, so if you’re following a low-fat diet, they are perfect for you.
They are full of fiber, which makes them very filling and satisfying. The more fiber you eat, the more weight you will lose.
This is because fiber has been proven to keep you full for longer periods of time, so you will automatically eat less.
Lentils are great in soups or even eaten cold in salads. You can make a spread out of lentils similar to hummus, or you can experiment with recipes to create a delicious lentil loaf.
This lean meat is full of protein. There are many ways you can eat turkey, but one quarter-pound turkey burger contains 16 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fat.
Turkey is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is rare for meat. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for brain function and health, and they can also improve your mood.
If you’re going to eat a turkey burger, make sure to make it at home! Grilling your own burgers will give you full control over everything that is going into it, and it will be much healthier too.
1 cup of firm tofu provides you with 20 grams of protein, making it an excellent source for those who don’t eat meat.
Tofu contains no cholesterol, and it lowers the bad cholesterol in your body. Tofu is very high in calcium and vitamin E, which contributes to strong and healthy bones.
Tofu also contains isoflavones, which are known to damage free radicals. This is great because it prevents premature aging and also reduces the risk for cancer.
You can grill tofu, marinate it and add it to stir-fries, soups, and more. You can also use tofu in desserts to make dishes such as pudding.
Tempeh is a must-try food for anyone who is worried about their protein intake! Just 1 cup of tempeh provides an impressive 31 grams of protein.
Tempeh is made from fermented whole soybeans. It is minimally processed and has been known to reduce cholesterol in the body.
It also increases bone density and promotes muscle recovery. Even if you eat meat, you should consider incorporating tempeh into your diet to see how it makes you feel.
You can use tempeh to make tempeh bacon or burgers. You can also add it to stir fries, and grill it. The options are really endless.
32. Watermelon Seeds
1 oz of watermelon seeds contains 8 grams of protein. These seeds are nowhere near as popular as they should be. Watermelon seeds make a great and healthy snack when they are dried and roasted.
Watermelon seeds are loaded with b vitamins. They are particularly high in niacin, which is important for maintaining the digestive system, nervous system, and the health of your skin.
Watermelon seeds are also full of folate, thiamin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. You can try roasting these seeds yourself, or you can buy them pre-packaged.
33. Lima Beans
Lima beans are another source of protein. 1 cup of cooked lima beans contains 11.6 grams of muscle-building protein.
They are a great source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Their high fiber content makes them great for preventing blood sugar spikes. Therefore, lima beans are a great source for people who are diabetic or struggle with insulin resistance.
You can steam lima beans and eat them as a side dish, or add them to stews and soups. You can also add them to your rice bowls and they are great topped on salads.
As you can see there are many options out there, not just what you might typically think of as high protein foods like meat, chicken, or eggs.
There are seeds, nuts, veggies, and more. Now that you know you have plenty of options, start incorporating these high protein foods into your diet, so you can stay full and stay strong.
The Best High Protein Foods For Weight Loss
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Green peas
- 1% Organic, grass-fed milk
- Grass-fed beef
- 2% Greek yogurt
- Gruyere cheese
- Wild salmon
- Sprouted whole grain bread
- Light canned tuna
- Peanut butter
- Pacific cod
- Watermelon seeds
- Lima beans