Looking to eat more protein? Check out this high protein foods list printable that will help you with your meal planning!
Are you eating a high protein diet, or just starting to learn more about what foods are good for you?
Honestly, figuring out what to eat can be overwhelming. I was that way too when I first started eating a more balanced diet. Heck, I still get overwhelmed sometimes!
You’ve probably heard that protein is good for you but don’t know where to start. I have a handy list of high protein foods that you can download here! You can also scroll to the bottom for a guide right on this page.
What is protein?
Protein is one of the 3 macronutrients. The other two are fats and carbohydrates.
Protein is the building block of the human body! It’s not just for bodybuilders, either- it’s vital for every person, young and old.
Why is protein important?
Our body naturally makes some amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. There are certain amino acids, essential amino acids, that we can only get through food. And that’s why we need to make sure we’re eating enough protein.
Protein has a huge amount of health benefits:
- It helps build and maintain muscle mass, especially as you lose weight.
- It keeps you full longer throughout the day because it’s super filling.
- It can help with weight loss! The body works harder to digest protein, which burns more calories.
- It can help reduce late-night cravings.
- It can help lower blood pressure
How much protein do I need?
According to Mayo Clinic, the bare minimum is 50-ish grams per day, with anywhere between 50 and 100 grams as the average.
It varies from person to person, depending on your height, weight, activity level, etc. And for the most part, we don’t need to worry too much about how much protein we’re getting.
If you lift heavy weights or are extremely physically active, you may want to pay more attention to how much you’re eating.
I’m a long-distance runner and I also do yoga. I actually need more carbs than protein; but at around 130 pounds, I am for 100 grams of protein every day.
What are the best sources of protein?
There really is no one best source, but there are some foods that definitely have more protein than others.
A lot of foods have at least some protein in them, like vegetables and some grains. If you follow an all-around healthy diet, you may be getting what you need.
Animal products, like meat, tend to have the most protein while being low-carb. Lean meats, like chicken, lean beef, and lean pork, tend to have lower fat as well. Fish is also a good source of protein- Canned light tuna is super cheap and is a staple in my house!
In addition, lean meat has fewer calories and is naturally low-carb! Meat is mostly made up of protein, which makes it a good choice if you’re trying to lower your calories.
A lot of dairy products are high in protein, too! Cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are super high in protein, while some cheeses can be a good protein source as well. Dairy milk can be an easy way to get in protein, especially if you use it in smoothies or cereal.
Are there plant-based protein sources?
Absolutely! Protein is important for vegans as well, and you can find protein in many different plant-based sources:
- Whole wheat products and whole grain products- bread, oats, brown rice, quinoa
- Peanut butter and other nut butters (Although these tend to be higher in fat than higher in protein)
Most vegan sources also tend to be higher in carbs. That’s not a bad thing for a typical healthy person, but consult with your doctor if you have medical issues like diabetes that recommend you follow a low-carb diet.
Because vegans leave out a food group or two, it might take more effort to get in more protein. I tried a vegan diet for awhile, and found that adding beans or lentils to at least one of my meals every day really helped up my protein intake.
What about the high-protein snacks at the store?
If you’ve gone to the grocery store recently, you may have seen some products that say they have extra protein inside. Protein chips, protein bars, protein shakes, protein powder, you name it.
In all honesty, these protein supplements and high-protein food and snacks can certainly help increase your protein intake. I personally use protein powder (plant-based instead of whey proteins because I get stomach issues) and protein shakes on occasion.
Your best bet is to focus on foods with naturally-occuring protein in them. The protein chips are great, but they can be expensive and may not make you feel as full as if you’d eaten a hard boiled egg.
High protein foods
Here’s a list of foods that have protein in them. This is not a complete list, but has some common foods on it. I got a lot of this info from the USDA Food Database.
If you want this list in PDF form, just click here for your free download!
|5 ounce can
|1 cup (8 ounces)
|1 cup cooked
|1 cup cooked
|1/2 cup cooked
|1/2 cup cooked
|1/2 cup uncooked
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.