Visualising 30 Grams of Protein in Everyday Foods

Getting at least 30 grams of protein per meal is a common recommendation in health and nutrition circles to increase satiety and maintain stable blood glucose levels.  Getting at least 30 grams of protein per meal is crucial for maintaining muscle mass and supporting overall health.

  • But what does 30 g of protein look like? 
  • How much of each food do you need to eat to get 30 g of protein? 
  • What is the most efficient way to get the protein you need?

In this article, we’ll highlight some popular sources of protein that will provide you with more protein per calorie and show you how much of each food you’ll need to eat to get at least 30 g of protein.

How Much is 30 Grams of Protein?

Understanding how to get 30 grams of protein from various food sources efficiently is key to a balanced diet. For example, at 98% protein, prawns are a very efficient way to get 30 grams of protein, with only 124 calories.  Meanwhile, as you’ll see below, other foods will have a bigger impact on your energy budget. 

The infographic below shows protein sources popular with our Optimisers, starting with the foods that will give you 30 g of protein with fewer calories.  Underneath each picture, you’ll see the quantity (in grams) of the food required to get 30 grams of protein and the calories it will provide. 

30 grams of protein in popular foods

In addition to protein, food contains water, fat, and carbohydrates, which contribute to weight. As you can see, you need to consume more than 30 g of food to get the minimum protein. 

The table below shows these popular foods ranked based on the calories required to get 30 grams of protein.  Remember, this is a minimum amount.  You may need to eat more depending on your body’s needs and activity level.

foodcaloriesgramsservings
shrimp/prawns12412521 large
egg whites1432751.1 cups
sirloin steak1601003.6 oz
chicken breast (skinless)168971 small
Greek yogurt (non-fat)1732941.2 cups
salmon (canned)1791301.5 cans
chicken thigh1891091.6 large
liver1971031/3 cup
filet mignon200983.5 oz
mackerel (canned)2031300.5 cup
ground beef (93% lean)2131110.5 cup
chicken drumstick2271102 medium

Regardless of your preferred way of eating, you need adequate bioavailable protein.  The infographics below show popular higher-protein foods from different food groups required to get a minimum of 30 grams of protein.

How to Get 30 g of Protein from Meat & Offal

Meat is an excellent source of bioavailable protein.  Leaner cuts will provide the protein you require with the protein you need with less energy, which is ideal for increasing your satiety per calorie

serving sizes for 30 grams of protein from meat and offal
meatcaloriesgramsservings
turkey breast1471003.5 oz
chicken breast (skinless)168971 small
roast beef1601003.6 oz
sirloin steak1601003.6 oz
pork loin (lean)1641154 oz
beef heart1741060.5 cup
ground beef (97% lean)1741140.5 cup
chicken drumstick (skinless)2271102 med
chicken thigh1891091.6 large
ribeye filet (fat trimmed)1901000.8 fillet
beef liver2001051/3 cup
roast lamb2001063.8 oz

How to Get 30 g of Protein from Seafood

While not everyone’s favourite, seafood provides heaps of bioavailable protein per calorie and many harder-to-find minerals and vitamins. 

serving sizes for 30 grams of protein from saefood
fishcaloriesgramsservings
cod138132¾ fillet
crab1391681.35 cans
pollock1421210.4 fillet
snapper1461200.4 fillet
tilapia147115½ cup
halibut1481330.4 fillet
shrimp/prawns12412521 large
scallops16216410 large
octopus1651000.4 cup
salmon1791301.4 cans
tuna1871300.5 cups
mackerel2021300.5 cups

How to Get 30 g of Protein from Dairy & Egg

Lower-fat dairy and egg are also great ways to get the protein you need.  But beware, full-fat dairy comes packed with more energy.

foodcaloriesgramsservings
egg whites1432751.1 cups
Greek yogurt (non-fat)1732941.2 cups
protein powder (whey)149401.2 scoops
cottage cheese (low-fat)2332901.3 cups
parmesan cheese329840.6 cups
whole egg3702405 large
mozzarella (part-skim)3733751.1 cups
milk (low-fat)3749003.7 cups
gruyere cheese4161010.47 cups
gouda cheese4281200.5 cups
Edam cheese4291200.5 cups
Swiss cheese4371115.3 slices

Can you Get 30 g of Protein from Beans, Legumes, Nuts & Seeds?

Beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds can be good protein sources if you follow a vegetarian, plant-based or vegan diet.

However, you must be more intentional to ensure you get the protein you need without excess energy.   For example, you’ll need four times as much energy to get the same amount of protein from chickpeas vs egg whites. 

foodcaloriesgramsservings
lupini2321951.2 cups
tempeh2931500.9 cups
natto3261510.9 cups
edamame3432431.4 cups
lentils3893351.7 cups
tofu (fried)4301595.6 oz
kidney beans4663762.2 cups
black beans5113652.2 cups
pinto beans4763332 cups
hemp seeds525952/3 cup
chickpeas5984302.6 cups
pumpkin/squash seeds57410014 tbsp

Plant-based protein sources come bound with fibre, so they’re less available. You’ll need to consume an additional 20-30% to absorb the same amount of protein as you would from meat, seafood and dairy. 

Benefits of Eating at least 30g of Protein per Meal

Consuming at least 30g of protein per meal can enhance muscle protein synthesis and improve satiety, aiding in weight management.

One reason many people refer to 30 g of protein as the minimum amount per meal is that that’s the amount typically required to get 2.5 g of leucine from most foods.  According to research by Professor Don Layman, older adults require at least 2.5 g of leucine to activate muscle protein synthesis, which is critical to building and repairing muscles.  

The chart below shows that older adults require around 2.5 g of leucine or 30 g of protein per meal to activate muscle protein synthesis.  Above 3.0 g of leucine per meal, the benefit of additional protein for muscle protein synthesis tapers off.  So, while 2.5 g of leucine per meal is the minimum required to activate muscle protein synthesis, you need at least 3.0 g to maximise muscle protein synthesis. 

With less than this, the protein you eat is used only to maintain your vital organs, which are a higher priority than your muscles.  While leucine is required to activate muscle protein synthesis, you need all the essential amino acids to build and repair your body, so it’s not as simple as supplementing with leucine. 

How Many Meals Per Day?  

While possible, most people struggle to get all the protein they require in a single meal.

Professor Layman also wisely recommends that you ‘bookend’ your day with a solid dose of protein at your first and last meal to ensure your body has adequate amino acids in your bloodstream throughout the day.  

If you’re trying to lose weight, two meals a day with a snack in between tends to be a great approach. If you’re more active, you’ll likely need to eat more often to get the required energy and protein. 

How Much Protein Do I Need Per Day? 

While daily protein needs vary, aiming for 30 grams per meal is a good rule of thumb starting point for most individuals.

The amount of protein you need will depend on your context and goals.   If you search online, you will find a range of targets, from a minimum of 0.8 g/kg protein per day to prevent protein deficiency in sedentary individuals to 2.2 g/kg for resistance training athletes.

The reality is that because we have such a strong appetite for protein, our body ensures we get enough to maintain our current muscle mass.   But because it’s so satiating, eating too much protein is hard, especially while staying within your energy budget. 

For greater satiety, fat loss, and muscle growth, it’s smart to increase your protein percentage (or the percentage of energy in your diet from protein). Increasing your protein percentage empowers you to get the protein you require more efficiently with less energy. 

As shown in the chart below, created from 838,686 days of data, we eat the most when our diet contains around 12.5% protein.  This is the typical amount of protein in ultra-processed junk food.   However, when our diet contains 40% protein, we eat 34% less energy. 

satiety response to protein

You can think of 12.5% as the perfect amount of protein for fat gain (i.e. the protein bliss point), while 40% is a healthy stretch target for greater satiety and fat loss (i.e. the Optimal Nutrient Intake). 

The table below shows the amount of protein (in grams) corresponding to the fat gain vs fat loss settings for different calorie intakes. 

caloriesfat gainfat loss
100031100
125039125
150047150
175055175
200063200
225070225
250078250

For greater satiety and fat loss, work to increase your protein intake towards the fat-loss protein targets that correspond with your current target energy intake. 

High Protein Food Chart

Curious how your favourite foods stack up in terms of protein?  The chart below shows a range of popular foods in terms of grams per serving versus protein percentage. Foods towards the right will provide more protein (in grams) per serving, while those towards the top will provide the protein you need with less energy.

For more details, dive into our dynamic chart showcasing popular foods, comparing protein % vs. protein per serving explore the interactive Tableau version.  

How to Determine if You Are Getting Enough Protein

The simplest way to determine if you’re getting enough protein is to track your typical diet and protein sources in Cronometer for a few days to see how your protein intake aligns with the fat loss vs fat gain targets above. 

In our Macros Masterclass, we guide our Optimisers to gradually increase their protein % prioritising protein and dialling back energy from fat and/or carbohydrates.  In addition to protein, our satiety algorithm also guides Optimisers to prioritise the other nutrients, like calcium, potassium and iron, that align with greater satiety and eating less. 

If you’re looking for nutritious, higher-protein recipes, you can download free samples of our maximum nutrient density, fat loss or high protein:energy NutriBooster recipes here

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7 thoughts on “Visualising 30 Grams of Protein in Everyday Foods”

  1. Thanks for this. However, it would have been way more beneficial to have actual photos of the amount listed. I think 5 chicken thighs is probably more than 30g protein. How many eggs? Cups or tablespoons of Hemp?
    I hope you can revise over time for this to truly be a recommended resource.

    • It would be really nice to have photos that show the relative size with a photo of each food. I’ll have a think about how I can add the typical serving sizes, not just the weight for each without making it too clunky.

      • Hi. This is pretty great but I agree, can’t visualize easily. A photo on the scale with volume measurements would be good. Just switch the photos. For example egg whites in a clear measuring cup on a scale. Saves us having to measure everything. Thanks

      • Thanks for the feedback! I’ve added serving sizes to the tables and infographics to save you weighing and measuring everything.

  2. I would like to see more nut examples of 30 grams of protein such as peanuts, macadamias, almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts. Plus more seed examples such as sunflower seeds, chia seeds and sesame seeds. You could have a whole other section for just nuts as seeds. I bet they are also high in calories per gram of protein!

    • For simplicity, I kept it to the popular foods in each category that provide protein without excessive amounts of calories so people can get the minimum amount of protein per meal without blowing their calorie budget.

      However, I’ll mention the amount that you’d need of each to get 30 grams of protein:
      – peanuts – 659 calories / 111 grams
      – almonds – 821 calories / 137 grams
      – sunflower seeds – 843 calories / 139 grams
      – sesame seeds – 925 calories / 143 grams
      – walnuts – 1288 calories / 192 grams
      – hazelnuts – 1289 calories / 191 grams
      – Brazil nuts – 1381 calories / 202 grams
      – pecans – 2261 calories / 322 grams
      – macadamias – 2724 calories / 274 grams

      If you were to get three serves of 30 grams of protein from macadamias every day you would need to consume more than 8000 calories, which is probably not ideal for most people.

      Hope this is helpful.

      • Oh wow! I saw that coming, but it’s impressive how much energy you take in with these foods to get 30g of protein…

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