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High Protein Foods

Everyone needs protein in their diets, especially athletes and other individuals that are training. Protein is an essential nutrient for humans, yet we cannot produce it with our body ourselves. Since protein is essential for muscle recovery, it is very important for those working out. Definciencies can actually lead to muscle loss and sometimes lack of energy. But more importantly, protein definciencies can also lead to lack of growth, loss of intelligence (and lack of development), and mental retardation. So, athlete, active individual, or not, check out these high protein foods and make sure to incorporate some into your diet.

  • Protein Supplements/Protein Shakes
  • Eggs
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Soybeans and Edamame
  • Peanuts/Peanut Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Other Sources of Protein

Protein Supplements/Protein Shakes

I know these aren't really "foods," but protein supplements have become so popular and more complete in providing essential nutrients that I had to include them in these high protein foods. These are especially beneficial to vegetarians as an additional source of protein other than nuts and beans, that can add variety and flavor to their diets.

There are two types of protein that are often both present in a protein supplements: whey protein and casein protein. Whey protein is fast absorbing protein, while casein protein is absorbed on a slower, more sustained pace by your body. Both are important depending on your protein needs at the time.

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Protein supplements can be a significant part of your diet. I actually have a protein shake every morning for breakfast. Those that I have also have additional nutrients like carbs and vitamins. They're quick, easy, portable, and now taste pretty good. My preference is Muscle Milk. They have a ton of great tasting flavors and different forms, including a lower-calorie Muscle Milk Light. You can get Muscle Milk and other Protein Supplements pretty much anyhere now, including the grocery store, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, and your local gyms.

If you're interested in using protein supplements as one of your high protein foods, you can get more detail on them on the weight lifting supplements page.


Eggs are one of the best natural high protein foods. They're versatile in that they can be cooked a number of ways, inexpensive, and can provide all essential amino-acids we need. They provide about 5.5 grams of protein per egg.

I did see some interesting information about eggs recently. I don't think "drinking" raw eggs is that common of practice anymore, but raw eggs actually provide your body less protein than cooked eggs. When an egg is raw, the amount of protein your body is able to absorb is fairly low, but when it is cooked, nearly all of th protein provided by eggs can be absorbed by your body. Fry them, scramble them, boil them, or cook them however you like and you'll be getting a good source of protein. Keep in mind, to, that hard-boiled eggs are very portable and make a great snack!


Beef comes in many forms, making it another of the most versatile foods high in protein. Burger, roasts, steaks, liver, and other forms of beef can all provide the protein your body needs.

I honestly don't know if liver is really considered beef, but it's one of the most nutrient dense high protein foods. If you're not afraid of liver, having it every once in a while can help you get a ton of nutrients, including protein. Calf liver is the best choice, and provides about 25 grams of protein in a 4 oz. serving. It's also a great source of B-Vitamins, iron, zinc, folate, riboflavin, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and numerous other nutrients.

Roasts/Steaks/Other Cuts
Roasts, steaks, and other cuts of beef vary in texture and tenderness, as well as flavor. All are high protein foods, though. A 4 oz cut of lean beef tenderloin contains about 32 grams of protein, and other cuts will contain nearly the same. These cuts also contain B-Vitamins, phosphorus, and Zinc. If you eat beef, incorporate these flavorful meats into your diet.

Burger (Ground Beef) and Lunch Meats
These forms of beef aren't the best choices, but should also be enjoyed in moderation. Ground beef and lunch meat also provide protein and other nutrients, but can also contain more fat and, in the case of the lunch meat, sodium. In general, the less processed a food is, the better it is and the more healthy nutrients you can absorb from it.


Pork is another flavorful meat that's a good source of protein and other nutrients. Pork Chops are actually one of Men's Health's "Healthiest Foods You Aren't Eating." Pork chops help lower the risk of cancer, and are packed with riboflavin, thiamin, and B vitamins that help your body more efficently use carbohydrates. For those active individuals, the biggest benefit, according to Men's Health and especially from the protein in pork chops, is that Purdue researchers found that a daily 6-oz serving helped people preserve their muscle as they lost weight on a low-calorie diet.


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Fish is another great source of protein, especially for those that don't eat red meat but will eat fish and poultry. Two of the best choices are salmon and tuna.

Salmon is one of the best foods that anyone can eat. It's a delicious food that's lower in calories and saturated fat and contains nutrients not found in many other foods. Salmon's "claim to fame" is being the best source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. It's also a very good source of protein, magnesium, and B-vitamins. Enjoy this delicious fish often!

Tuna's another great source of protein, whether canned or fresh. Canned tuna is a favorite among weight-lifters because of its portability and being able to eat the fish cold. Tuna is an excellent source of high quality proteins, and also rich in magnesium, potassium, B-vitamins, and the Omega-3 essential fatty acids described above. Salmon's Omega-3's and fat composition do make it a better fish, but tuna is much more versatile and is also a great nutritional choice, especially as a source of protein.


Have you heard that the bird is the word? Well everybody's heard that the bird is the word! Sorry...Family Guy came on after another show and Peter Griffin's favorite song was "The Bird is the Word." Poultry is your white meat from birds like chicken and turkey. Also beneficial to those that don't eat red meat, poultry helps individuals to consume the protein they need to be healthy.

Although breaded, fried chicken does have protein, that's not really what I'm talking about here. Chicken breast and chicken thighs are you best sources of chicken as high protein foods. Chicken breast is the lowest-fat form of chicken, but if you're getting bored with it or just need a change on occassion, chicken thighs only have 11 more calories and 1 more gram of fat per ounce. Either is a very good source of protein, with 4 ozs. providing 67% (33g) of your daily need.

Turkey has become more popular, especially as a substitute for burger, and is a great source for protein. It contains 65% (32g) of your daily protein needs. You can enjoy various forms of turkey on occassions other than Thanksgiving. While we're on the subject, though, thank you for visiting my site! I hope it helps some people out.

Soybeans and Edamame

Soybeans are another of the high protein foods that can be particularly beneficial to vegetarians and vegans alike. 1 cup of soybeans can provide 28g of protein, as well as 10g of fiber. Edamame is my favorite form of soybeans (boiled soybeans) that my friend introduced me to as one of her sources of protein. Throw some sea salt over some edamame and you've got a delicious snack. I should say, though, that the package I have in my freezer is showing only 22g of protein per cup, with a 1/2 cup actually being the serving size (so 11g of protein).

Peanuts and Peanut Butter

Peanuts (actually legumes and not nuts, according to my research) and peanut butter can be very important, especially to vegetarians, as non-animal high protein foods. Peanuts are a good source of protein, with about 9.5g of protein per 1/4 cup serving, and are also healthy for your heart. They're a very good source of monounsaturated fats (the good fat or heart healthy fat). This gives peanuts another indirect benefit of being more filling due to the fat in it, but not being fattening. Besides the protein and and healthy fat, peanuts actually have a high content of antioxidents that can help keep you healthy.

Peanut butter is also a good source of protein. Sometimes it gets a bad rap because of it's higher fat content, but this is mostly the healthy fats from the peanuts themselves. I do need to caution you, though, on the low-fat versions. These can actually be worse for you because they replace the lost fat with things like added sugar, increasing the carbs. Just pay attention to the label. Get some more protein in your diet with some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or throwing some peanut butter on some celery sticks and enjoy!


There are actually two types of yogurt I'm talking about here. Greek yogurt and plain yogurt. As far as high protein foods go, Greek yogurt is the better choice. It has nearly twice the protein as plain yogurt, providing 23g of protein per cup. It's a little thicker and creamier than regular yogurt.

Regular, plain yogurt is your other option. I don't like it by itself, but adding some strawberries or other natural sweeteners can make regualr (or greek) yogurt a great snack. The versions of yogurt with fruit at the bottom are actually packed full of unnatural sugar, so aren't as healthy as regular yogurt you sweeten yourself. Plain yogurt provides about 13g of protein per cup.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is another of the high protein foods I enjoy on a very regular basis. I use it as an in-between meals snack nearly every day at work. Of course, I have a little something else with it, to, like some berries or some vegetables like carrots or snap peas. Back to the cottage cheese, though. You can get 13g of protein out of a 1/2 cup serving. Also, as an FYI, pretty much every source I've seen says that there's no real point in getting the fat-free version. Personally, I think this is one of the foods that just doesn't taste nearly as good when it's fat free, and the tradeoff isn't worth the benefit. Instead go with something like 2% milkfat and enjoy some cottage cheese in your diet.

High Protein Foods Conclusion

Well, there's a few high protein foods to get you started in getting proper nutrition. Protein should be a part of every meal that you eat, and at a minimum consist of 20% of your diet (more if you're trying to gain some muscle mass). Enjoy some of these foods every day!

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Weight Lifting Supplements
Learn more about protein powders as high protein foods.

Top Athletic Foods
See some more great food choices.

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