Embark on a nutritious journey with our extensive guide on protein-rich foods. Delve into charts and infographics showing high-protein meat, seafood and vegetables to meet your dietary goals. Whether you’re searching for the best plant-based protein sources or meat, our guide has got you covered.
Protein-rich foods aren’t just nourishing; they are your ticket to sculpting lean muscle, turbocharging your metabolism, and banishing hunger. The secret to unlocking their full potential? It’s all about the protein percentage or protein-to-energy ratio. This magical formula allows you to eat less while satisfying your protein needs.
In our Macros Masterclass, one of the most common questions is, “How can I get enough protein without packing on excess fat?” Our treasure trove of simple infographics and downloadable PDF protein-rich food lists have been meticulously crafted to guide you towards protein-packed, nourishing satiety.
Download Printable Food Lists
Ready to embark on a gastronomic adventure? Dive into our PDF protein-rich food lists here.
- Protein Percentage
- Protein-Rich Animal-Based Foods
- Protein Rich Fish and Seafood
- Protein-Rich Dairy & Egg
- Plant-Based Protein Sources for Vegetarians and Vegans
- Protein-Rich Vegetables
- Protein Charts
- Benefits of Eating a Protein-Rich Diet
- How Much Protein Should I Eat Per Day?
- Should I Be Concerned About Getting Too Much Protein?
- Incorporate Protein into Your Diet Strategically
- NutriBooster Recipe Books
- Protein-Rich Foods Lists
- Macros Masterclass
Protein percentage (%) is the proportion of the total calories in food that come from protein.
While many factors align with greater satiety and eating less without excessive hunger and unsustainable willpower, our analysis shows that the protein % of food is the dominant satiety factor.
Thus, protein-rich foods with a higher protein % and pack in more of the protein you need with less of the energy you don’t need to give you the best chance of sustainable weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.
For more details, see:
- What is the Protein-Energy Ratio, and Why Should You Care?
- The Protein Leverage Hypothesis: Satisfy Your Cravings with the Protein You Need.
Protein-Rich Animal-Based Foods
Have you ever wondered why bodybuilders swear by chicken breast or why carnivore diet enthusiasts often shed weight magically? It’s all about that high protein percentage, making lean meats your ally in the quest for protein without excess calories.
Here are some of the best protein-rich lean meats:
- turkey breast – 87%
- chicken breast (skinless) – 81%
- roast beef – 75%
- flank steak (fat not eaten) – 75%
- sirloin steak – 75%
- pork loin (lean) – 73%
- ground beef (97% lean) – 69%
- chicken drumstick (skinless) – 64%
- chicken thigh (skinless) – 64%
- ribeye filet (fat trimmed) – 63%
Protein Rich Fish and Seafood
And let’s not forget the bounty of the sea. Seafood is a treasure trove of lean, protein-rich options – a culinary delight and a nutrient powerhouse.
Here are some of the most protein-rich seafood options to help pack more protein into your limited energy budget.
- cod – 87%
- shrimp/prawns – 77%
- salmon (pink, canned) – 67%
- tuna – 65%
- mackerel – 59%
- trout (smoked) – 57%
- salmon (Atlantic) – 56%
- mussels – 55%
- oyster – 47%
- salmon (farmed) – 43%
Protein-Rich Dairy & Egg
Dairy has a protein spectrum, from indulgent creamy delights to low-fat yogurt and egg whites. Those seeking a tasty, cost-effective weight-loss hack will find solace in the world of low-fat dairy packed with protein and calcium.
Here are some of the best protein-rich dairy options:
- egg whites – 84%
- Greek yogurt (non-fat) – 69%
- cottage cheese (low-fat) – 52%
- parmesan cheese – 36%
- whole egg – 32%
- mozzarella (part-skim) – 32%
- provolone cheese – 29%
- gruyere cheese – 29%
- gouda cheese – 28%
- Edam cheese – 28%
Plant-Based Protein Sources for Vegetarians and Vegans
Plant-based foods often have a lower protein density, but there are still some great options. Beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds offer protein-rich options that cater to your dietary preferences.
Here are some of the best protein-rich plant-based foods:
- seitan – 75%
- lupini – 52%
- natto – 37%
- lentils – 31%
- hemp seeds – 23%
- pumpkin/squash seeds – 21%
- whole wheat bread – 20%
- peanuts – 18%
Even vegetables, though petite in serving size, boast surprisingly high protein percentages.
You may be surprised at the protein % of some of the non-starchy vege:
- spinach – 52%
- asparagus – 44%
- kale – 34%
- Brussels sprouts – 31%
- cauliflower – 31%
- zucchini – 30%
- lettuce – 29%
- broccoli – 27%
Curious how your favourite foods stack up in terms of protein? Dive into our dynamic chart showcasing popular foods, comparing protein % vs. protein per serving. For an immersive experience, explore the interactive Tableau version (on your computer).
Explore this chart of nutrient density vs. protein percentage to discover the most nutritious high-protein foods. Use the tabs across the top to show more foods and subsets of plant-based, animal-based foods and seafood.
Benefits of Eating a Protein-Rich Diet
Eating a high-protein diet comes with several benefits, including:
- Satiety: Protein-rich foods help you feel full and satisfied, reducing overeating.
- Muscle Building: Adequate protein intake supports muscle growth and repair.
- Metabolism Boost: Protein can increase metabolism and calorie burning.
- Weight Loss: High-protein diets can aid in weight loss by reducing appetite.
- Immune Support: Protein is essential for a healthy immune system.
How Much Protein Should I Eat Per Day?
The minimum amount of protein we need is a hotly debated topic.
- According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, adults need at least 0.8 g/kg body weight or 10% of total energy intake.
- The upper limit of the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range for protein has been arbitrarily set at 35% of calories based on typical intakes.
- Meanwhile, a general rule of thumb for bodybuilders who are eager to optimise their protein intake for muscle building is 1 g per lb or 2.2 g per kilo body weight.
As shown in the chart below, our analysis of 835,733 days of data shows a bliss point for protein at 12.5%, which aligns with the maximum energy intake — think ultra-processed junk food. If we get less than this, we’ll crave higher protein foods. But once we get above this, we eat less while meeting our protein needs more efficiently.
Should I Be Concerned About Getting Too Much Protein?
No. Most people don’t need to worry about consuming too much protein. Your appetite tightly regulates your protein intake based on your needs.
Protein is a poor energy source, so once you have the protein you need, your appetite for high-protein foods shuts down. For more details, see Can Eating Too Much Protein Kill You? The Truth About Rabbit Starvation.
As shown in the frequency distribution chart below, most people gravitate toward the tastiest, most seductive kryptonite foods that align with maximum energy intake. The average protein intake for the US and other countries where processed food is readily available is around 15%.
Towards the left-hand side of these charts, the data shows that many people consume less protein than their bodies need. If this is the case for you, focus on high-protein foods to get more protein.
However, if you’re already getting enough protein and want to increase satiety to aid weight loss with less hunger, your focus needs to shift to getting the protein you need with less energy. That is a higher protein % or protein-to-energy ratio.
You might think that consuming a higher protein percentage equates with more protein. But the relationship is not that simple. There seems to be a limit to our protein intake that we hit at around 40% of our total energy intake.
Based on this analysis, we’ve set our Optimal Nutrient Intake for protein at 40%. Once you get more than 40% of your energy from protein, it’s time to ensure you get enough of the other essential nutrients from your food beyond the amino acids.
When we look at the average of all 835,733 days of data, we see that protein intake tops out at 130 g of protein. Once you push your protein % above 40%, you’re not eating more protein; you’re just consuming less energy.
Incorporate Protein into Your Diet Strategically
While the data shows trends and gives us fascinating insights about protein, there is no one-size-fits-all prescription. The amount of protein you need will depend on various factors, such as your activity levels and muscle mass.
In our Macros Masterclass, we guide our Optimisers to tweak their diet incrementally, shifting their focus from carbohydrates and fats to prioritise protein. The result? Increased satiety, eating less, and shedding unwanted pounds with less hunger and unsustainable willpower struggles. Rather than jumping to extremes, we show you how to use your current foods to achieve greater satiety.
NutriBooster Recipe Books
And if you’re itching to elevate your protein game in the kitchen, our NutriBooster recipe books are here to inspire you. Download samples to explore high-protein recipes that will make your taste buds dance with joy.
Protein-Rich Foods Lists
Before you go, make sure you grab our printable protein-rich PDF food lists in our Optimising Nutrition Community here to help you increase satiety for more effortless weight loss.
However, if you’re not yet meeting your minimum quota for protein, you might find our high-protein foods more helpful to get more protein.
For those seeking the elusive balance between protein and energy, don’t miss our Macros Masterclass. Your journey to a healthier, stronger you starts here.
- Unlocking the Power of Protein: A Comprehensive Guide to High-Protein Foods
- Foods That Keep You Feeling Full: The Ultimate List of High-Satiety-Index Foods
- The Satiety Index: The Secret to Feeling Full and Satisfied for Longer with Fewer Calories
- High Satiety Foods
- NutriBooster Recipes
- Macros Masterclass