Protein can be found in a lot of foods, but certain options are better than others. From chicken to egg whites, choose these foods to pack your diet with protein.
Protein is an essential macronutrient that serves many functions in your body.
The recommended amount of protein is 0.37 grams per pound of body weight, or 0.8 grams per kilogram (
However, physically active individuals need 0.6–0.9 grams per pound, or 1.4–2 grams per kilogram (
Research shows that high protein diets also aid weight loss (
The simplest way to increase your protein intake is to eat more high protein foods.
That said, not all high protein foods are created equal. Some of them are extremely high in this nutrient, containing almost nothing but protein and water.
Here are 10 foods that are almost pure protein, comprising 80% of calories or more.
Chicken is one of the most commonly consumed high protein foods.
The breast is the leanest part. Three ounces (85 grams) of roasted, skinless chicken breast will provide you about 27 grams of protein and 140 calories (
Some studies show that eating chicken on a high protein diet can help you lose weight. However, the same benefits are also seen when beef is the main protein source (
A chicken’s nutrient profile is often affected by its diet. Pasture-raised chickens have higher antioxidant and omega-3 levels (
Besides protein, chicken is a great source of niacin, vitamin B6, selenium, and phosphorus (
Protein content in 100 grams: 31 grams (80% of calories)
Summary Chicken breast is a very popular
source of protein, with a 3-ounce breast providing 27 grams. It’s also a great
source of minerals and B-vitamins.
Turkey is a low fat source of protein. The breast is the leanest part of the bird.
Three ounces (85 grams) of roasted, skinless turkey breast contain about 26 grams of protein and 125 calories (
Turkey is also high in niacin, vitamin B6, and selenium. It’s likewise a good source of phosphorus and zinc (
It also contains high amounts of tryptophan. This amino acid helps synthesize serotonin, an important neurotransmitter.
Protein content in 100 grams: 30 grams (95% of calories)
Summary Turkey is a low calorie source of
protein, which comprises about 95% of its calories. It also contains B-vitamins
and minerals, such as selenium and zinc.
Like most other animal foods, eggs have high quality protein that contains all the amino acids.
Most of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in eggs are found in the yolk. However, egg whites contain at least 60% of the protein in an egg.
A one-cup (243-gram) serving of egg whites offers 27 grams of protein and only about 126 calories (
Protein content in 100 grams: 11 grams (91% of calories)
Summary Egg whites mostly consist of water and
protein. About 91% of the calories in egg whites are from protein.
Dried fish is a tasty snack that comes in many varieties.
For a high protein, low fat option, choose cod, halibut, haddock, or flounder.
Just 1 ounce (28 grams) of dried fish can provide 18 grams of protein (
Dried fish has many benefits. For example, it’s also loaded with vitamin B12, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and other nutrients (
Protein content in 100 grams: 63 grams (93% of calories)
Summary Dried fish is extremely high in
protein, which comprises up to 93% of its calories. It also contains omega-3
fatty acids and large amounts of some vitamins and minerals.
Shrimp is a great food to include in your diet.
It’s not only high in protein but also low in calories, carbs, and fat. Three ounces (85 grams) of shrimp contain 12 grams of protein and only 60 calories (
Shrimp is rich in selenium, choline, and vitamin B12. It also contains good amounts of niacin, zinc, vitamin E, and vitamin B6 (
What’s more, shrimp contain antioxidants like astaxanthin, which reduces inflammation and oxidative damage (
Protein content in 100 grams: 23 grams (77% of calories)
Summary Shrimp is a great source of protein, boasting
up to 77% of its calories. It also contains vitamins, minerals, and beneficial
Tuna is very low in calories and fat, which makes it an almost pure-protein food.
Three ounces (85 grams) of cooked yellowfin tuna packs about 25 grams of protein and only 110 calories (
It’s also a good source of B-vitamins, plus minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Tuna also has antioxidant properties due to its high amounts of selenium. Just 3.5 ounces (100 grams) contain 196% of the Daily Value.
Additionally, tuna is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation.
Tuna tends to contain some mercury, but its high selenium content helps protect against mercury toxicity. Eating canned tuna once a week is likely safe (
However, pregnant and nursing women should not eat raw, boiled, or grilled tuna more often than once per month.
Protein content in 100 grams: 29 grams (90% of calories)
Summary Tuna is one of the leanest kinds of
fish. It provides 20 grams of protein in a 3.5-ounce serving but is very low
Halibut is another fish that is a great source of complete protein. Half of a fillet (159 grams) of halibut provides 36 grams of protein and 176 calories (
Alaskan halibut is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it an effective anti-inflammatory food.
Halibut is likewise high in selenium. In addition, it has good amounts of vitamins B3, B6, and B12 and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium (
However, due to high mercury levels, you shouldn’t eat halibut often (
Whenever possible, buy halibut fresh from a local fish market.
Protein content in 100 grams: 23 grams (81% of calories)
Summary Halibut offers high amounts of
complete protein, with 36 grams in half of a fillet. It’s high in omega-3s,
B-vitamins, and minerals like selenium and magnesium.
Tilapia is a popular, relatively inexpensive fish.
It is a white, freshwater fish that’s a great source of protein yet low in calories and fat.
One fillet (87 grams) of tilapia can pack up to 23 grams of protein and only 111 calories (
Tilapia has raised some controversy given its higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratio than other types of fish, at about 1:1 (
Nonetheless, the amount of omega-6 in a serving of tilapia is not nearly enough to be a cause for concern.
Tilapia is also a great source of B-vitamins and minerals like selenium, phosphorus, and potassium (
Protein content in 100 grams: 26 grams (82% of calories)
Summary Tilapia packs a lot of protein, at
about 82% of calories. It also contains B-vitamins and minerals like selenium
Cod is a cold-water fish with a delicious, flaky white meat.
This fish is full of protein. It’s also low in calories and has little fat. Three ounces (85 grams) have 16 grams of protein and only 72 calories (
Cod is a good source of vitamins B3, B6, and B12, as well as omega 3 fatty acids — all of which provide benefits for heart health.
Additionally, cod contains selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Protein content in 100 grams: 19 grams (89% of calories)
Summary Cod is a lean white fish with protein
at 89% of calories. It’s low in calories and fat, yet it contains vitamins,
minerals, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Alaskan pollock is an excellent, mild-flavored fish.
Also known as walleye pollock, this white fish is packed with protein.
Three ounces (85 grams) contain 17 grams of protein and about 74 calories (
Alaskan pollock is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains large amounts of choline and vitamin B12, as well as many other nutrients.
Interestingly, pollock has one of the lowest mercury contents of any fish (
Protein content in 100 grams: 19 grams (88% of calories)
Summary Pollock is a popular
fish with protein at 88% of calories. It is very low in mercury but a great
source of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients.
The foods listed above are rich in protein.
Many have other health benefits as well due to their high content of omega-3s, vitamins, and minerals.
Because these foods are so high in protein, they’re also incredibly filling despite being low in calories.
For this reason, they are among the most weight loss friendly foods you can eat.