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 for protein from animal sources.
How much protein do you need?
The recommended daily intake for protein is between 46-56 grams for most adults, with pregnant and lactating women needing up to 72 grams of protein per day. Athletes or other people looking to build muscle mass may also want to consume more protein. The Daily Value (%DV) for protein is set at 50 grams per day, this number is meant to help compare foods and is a general number that works for most people.
Foods high in protein per calorie 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 common foods high in protein by common serving size, for more information, see the sections on protein dense foods, other protein-rich foods, and protein isolates.
Top 10 Protein Food List
1 Lean Chicken Breast
- 109% DV (54.5g) protein in a 6oz breast
- 82% DV (40.8g) per 200 calorie serving
- 64% DV (32.1g) per 100 grams (3.5 oz)
More Poultry High in Protein (%DV)
3oz (85g) of lean ground turkey (53% DV)
6oz turkey breast (102% DV)
1 chicken thigh (33% DV)
1 chicken drumstick (24% DV)
1 whole chicken leg (thigh and drumstick) (53% DV)
2 Pork Chops
- 105% DV (52.7g) protein in a 6oz chop
- 64% DV (31.8g) per 200 calorie serving
- 62% DV (31g) per 100 grams (3.5 oz)
More Pork Products High in Protein (%DV)
3oz of lean ground pork (54% DV)
3oz of sirloin roast (53% DV)
3oz of ham (50% DV)
- 102% DV (50.8g) protein in a 6oz fillet
- 65% DV (32.5g) per 200 calorie serving
- 60% DV (29.9g) per 100 grams (3.5 oz)
More Fish High in Protein %DV per 6oz (170g) fillet
Canned Tuna (100% DV), Salmon (94%), Talapia (92%), Trout (90%), Snapper (90%), Mackerel (88%), Pollock (84%), Mahimahi (80%), Swordfish (80%), and Cod (78%).
4 Beef (Skirt Steak)
- 100% DV (50.1g) protein per 6oz steak
- 43% DV (21.4g) per 200 calorie serving
- 57% DV (28.7g) per 100 grams (3.5 oz)
More Lean Red Meat High in Protein (%DV)
A 13oz (368g) T-bone steak (209% DV)
1oz of beef jerky (19% DV)
3oz of lamb stew meat (57% DV)
- 87% DV (43.5g) protein per cup
- 48% DV (24g) per 200 calorie serving
- 35% DV (17.3g) per 100 grams (3.5 oz)
Soft tofu provides 36% DV per cup
1 cup of tempeh provides 67% DV.
See more plant based vegan protein foods6 Lentils
- 36% DV (17.9g) protein per cup
- 31% DV (15.6g) per 200 calorie serving
- 18% DV (9g) per 100 grams (3.5 oz)
More Beans High in Protein (%DV per cup)
White Beans (35% DV), Split Peas (33%), Pinto (31%), Kidney Beans (31%), Black Beans (30%), Navy Beans (30%), Chickpeas (Garbanzo) (29%), and Lima beans (29%).
See more beans and legumes high in protein.
7 Low-Fat Yogurt
- 28% DV (14g) protein per cup
- 41% DV (20.5g) per 200 calorie serving
- 11% DV (5.7g) per 100 grams (3.5 oz)
See more vegetarian sources of protein.
8 Non-Fat Cheddar
- 18% DV (9g) protein per oz
- 82% DV (40.9g) per 200 calorie serving
- 64% DV (32.1g) per 100 grams (3.5 oz)
Other Cheese High in Protein %DV per oz (28g)
Romano (18% DV), Parmesan (16%), Swiss (15%), Mozarella (15%), Provolone (15%), Gouda (14%). Cottage Cheese provides 28% DV per 1/4 cup.
See more vegetarian protein foods.
9 Seeds (Squash and Pumpkin Seeds)
- 17% DV (8.5g) protein per 1oz handful
- 21% DV (10.4g) per 200 calorie serving
- 60% DV (29.8g) per 100 grams (3.5 oz)
Other Nuts and Seeds High in Protein %DV per oz
Peanuts (14% DV), Almonds (12%), Pistachios (12%), Sunflower Seeds (11%), Flax Seeds (10%), Chia Seeds (9%), and Cahsews (9%).
See more high protein nuts.
- 13% DV (6.3g) protein in 1 large egg
- 32% DV (16.2g) per 200 calorie serving
- 25% DV (12.6g) per 100 grams (3.5 oz)
1 cup of hard boiled eggs provides 34% DVSource: myfooddata.com