We all need protein in our diet and, thankfully, there are many good food options that can deliver what our bodies require and our taste buds enjoy. Because there are so many great picks to choose from, your personal palette can be your guide when it comes to selecting your core set of go-to favorites. If you see something listed that you don’t like, you can just move on to the next entry–life’s just great that way!
10 Protein-Rich Food Sources in Alphabetical Order
If you’re a meat lover, a lean protein like chicken can be a great friend. At under 200 calories for 100 grams of roasted chicken breast, you can get 30 grams of protein. The same size serving of roasted turkey breast has a comparable calorie count and 29 grams of protein, which means you can seamlessly rotate between having either meat depending on your tastes on any given day.
2. Cottage Cheese
Depending on the brand, a cup of nonfat cottage cheese can deliver around 15 grams of protein at just over 100 calories. Some low-fat alternatives contain more like 165 calories but can offer a whopping 20-plus grams of protein. Based on your dietary needs as a whole, consider incorporating a no-fat or low-fat option into your eating habits.
Half a cup of cooked edamame has 8.5 grams of protein at around 95 calories. The green soybean is a healthy pick for dieters and additionally provides valuable nutrients like fiber, magnesium and iron. If you’re among those who naturally like the taste of edamame, consider yourself lucky and enjoy.
Whether you’re an egg-whites-only purist or a whole-egg kind of person, there’s no denying the protein value of eggs. One large egg has around 70 calories and 6 grams of protein. An egg white itself has under 20 calories and approximately 3.6 grams of protein, which can be one of the most convenient ways to add a little protein to your diet for not a lot of calories.
For convenience's sake, you can keep a tupperware of hard boiled eggs in your fridge and then pull one out here or there throughout the week when you need something fast.
5. Greek Yogurt
One of the tastiest ways to up your protein intake is to pick up a container of Greek yogurt. A less-than-100-calorie, low-fat version can easily pack in somewhere between 10 and 17 grams of protein, depending on the particular product. Sample multiple brands and multiple flavors until you hone in on the specific set of items that suits you best.
Personally, I love Dannon’s Light and Fit line of Greek yogurts, which products are fat free and have 12 grams of protein at just 80 calories each for a 5.3-ounce container.
6. Kidney Beans
A tablespoon of boiled kidney beans has 14 calories and 1 gram of protein. Black beans, at 41 calories for a tablespoon, have 2.6 grams of protein while a 46-calorie, 1-tablespoon portion of chickpeas has 2.4 grams of protein. Such picks from the legume family can make a multitude of dinners better so get creative. Throw some chickpeas on your salads, some kidney beans in all of your rice dishes and some black beans in all of your soups.
At 8 grams of protein for around 80 calories, a cup of nonfat milk is a legitimate option for quick satisfaction. Picks like soy milk and almond milk don’t provide nearly as good of protein-to-calorie ratios, but the dairy-free alternatives still do provide some protein if lactose isn’t your thing. As we know, milk does the body good so drink a glass plain or combine it with your favorite protein powder before or after an intense workout.
Nuts are definitely my protein source of choice, perfect when you’re on the go or just in need of a quick pick-me-up. One ounce of peanuts provides 7 grams of protein at around 160 calories. The same size serving of almonds has a similar calorie count and contains 6 grams of protein, making almonds another great option.
Pumpkin seeds and pistachios similarly have a great protein-to-calorie ratio when you’re looking for some variety. Because the nut and seeds family packs in so much protein, nut and seed butters can also be great for your eating regimen as long as you stick to natural options that stay away from loads of sugar and artificial preservatives.
A 100-gram, 76-calorie serving of tofu has 8 grams of protein. Although the texture isn’t for everyone, those interested in vegetarian- and vegan-friendly picks may consider tofu to be a fantastic option that can be regularly included in their meals. As desired, be on the lookout for tofu-based products like tofu burgers to replace fattier options that you may be currently consuming.
A 2-ounce, 50-calorie portion of canned tuna in water provides 11 grams of protein while a 3-ounce serving of cooked bluefin tuna is around 150 calories and delivers 25 grams of protein. Based on convenience and your preferences, either option can be a terrific source of necessary nutrients for a healthy life. When I’m in need of some serious protein, I open up a can of tuna and start eating.
Depending on your body and lifestyle, your personal daily protein requirements may differ from someone else so make sure you’re eating accordingly when identifying what fantastic foods will work for you. Look at the nutrition information for what you’re already eating and identify how much protein you’re getting from each item. Consider making healthy substitutions to eliminate empty calories that you’re getting from fatty foods that don’t provide you with essential elements like protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins.
Make sure that your protein choices and serving sizes are in line with your overall weight-maintenance and daily-calorie goals. As part of a healthy diet, limit the amount of sugar you consume and always balance out your sugar intake with a healthy protein.
Also, make sure you’re getting in enough vegetables and fruits to round out your health-conscious efforts and provide your body with the best of the best.