Food & Nutrition

41 High-Protein Foods

Whatever your aim is when it comes to fitness, the hard work doesn’t end when you leave the gym or step through your front door after a run or cycle. If you’re not backing up your exercise with a similar level of commitment in the kitchen, you’re going to find it very hard to get the results you want.

One key dietary consideration for active people is their protein intake, because protein plays a vital role in building muscle. When you exercise you cause microscopic tears in your muscles, and to repair and grow them you need the amino acids that make up protein. And even if you’re not smashing out workouts every day of the week protein is a vital nutrient because of its role in building and maintaining body tissues.

The NHS recommends that men eat 55.5g of protein a day and women 45g, but if you are very active you’ll want to increase that amount significantly. Endurance athletes don’t need as much protein as strength-focused athlete, but should still aim to eat 1.2-1.4g per kg of bodyweight every day, while strength athletes should shoot for 1.2-1.7g per kg of bodyweight daily.

Fortunately protein is not an especially hard macronutrient to get enough of, since it tends to be found in substantial amounts in a wide variety of delicious foods. You can also ensure you hit your protein intake targets by using supplements like protein shakes or protein bars, or eating foods that have had protein added to them – these include bread, pasta and various cereals, and there are even protein-enriched waters available nowadays.

However, it is more than possible to get all your protein from natural foods, and it’s preferable too because – unlike supplements – food also contains a whole load of other nutritional goodies alongside protein, like vitamins, minerals and fibre. To help you get all the protein you need from food, we’ve provided an extensive list of high-protein foods. We’ve started with a complete list ranked by their protein content per 100g, then broken up the list into food groups – meat, seafood, meat alternatives, eggs and dairy, and nuts, seeds and legumes. Have at it.

41 High-Protein Foods Ranked By Protein Content Per 100g

  1. Beef jerky 30-40g
  2. Parmesan 32g
  3. Tuna steak 32g
  4. Pumpkin seeds 30g
  5. Turkey 30g
  6. Peanuts 25-28g
  7. Edam 27g
  8. Canned tuna 25g
  9. Cheddar 25g
  10. Seitan 25g
  11. Beef 20-24g
  12. Chicken 24g
  13. Salmon 24g
  14. Stilton 24g
  15. Almonds 21g
  16. Sardines 21g
  17. Cod 20g
  18. Lamb 20g
  19. Mackerel 20g
  20. Pistachios 20g
  21. Pork loin 17-20g
  22. Tempeh 20g
  23. Cashew nuts 18g
  24. Mozzarella 18g
  25. Mussels 18g
  26. Chia seeds 17g
  27. Walnuts 15-17g
  28. Prawns 15-18g
  29. Quorn mince 14.5g
  30. Brazil nuts 14g
  31. Edamame beans 13g
  32. Eggs 13g
  33. Tofu 12g
  34. Cottage cheese 10g
  35. Greek yogurt 10g
  36. Oats 10g
  37. Lentils 7-9g
  38. Kidney beans 8g
  39. Chickpeas 7g
  40. Peas 6g
  41. Quinoa (cooked) 5g


Beef jerky

Protein content: 30-40g

Keep some of these dried, cured pieces of lean beef in your gym bag for a meaty hit of protein that doesn’t require firing up the grill. Different brands have different levels of protein – and make sure you check the label for added sugar and the salt content, because both can be alarmingly high.


Protein content: 30g

A turkey supper shouldn’t just be for Christmas: the festive bird contains more protein per gram than most other meats including its greatest feathered rival – chicken.


Protein content: 24g

The classic lean protein source. Chicken contains vast amounts of protein while being very low in fat, especially if you opt for skinless breasts.


Protein content: 20-24g

Different cuts have different levels of protein but you can rely on beef to bring in plenty of muscle fuel in whatever form you take it. Opt for leaner cuts to avoid eating too much saturated fat.


Protein content: 20g

Those sweet little lambs you see frolicking in the fields every spring? They’re also excellent sources of protein. That’s how Mary got so hench.

Pork loin

Protein content: 17-20g

Pork comes in all manner of glorious varieties, but if you’re eating it to increase your protein intake stick to the stuff at the healthier end of the scale, which is pork loin, not pigs in blankets (around 15g of protein per 100g, if you’re wondering).


Tuna steak

Protein content: 32g

The “chicken of the sea” is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, among other valuable nutrients, as well as protein. It’s far more meaty and flavoursome than the canned version (with a price to match).

Canned tuna

Protein content: 25g

A cupboard well-stocked with tuna canned in spring water will see you through all manner of hardships. It’s packed with protein and virtually fat-free.


Protein content: 24g

As well as plenty of protein, the pink flesh of salmon contains loads of omega 3 fatty acids that make it great for a range of things from eye health to reducing the risk of heart disease.


Protein content: 21g

This fish is remarkably cheap if you buy the canned kind and it contains omega 3 fats as well last protein. Make sardines your new favourite toast topping.


Protein content: 20g

This fish is low in fat, but full of flavour. Naturally we’d advise avoiding battered versions due to the extra fat they contain.


Protein content: 20g

Both the fillet and canned versions of this oily fish are great picks for a quick and tasty protein hit. Try not to pair them with chips, though, or you’ll blow your daily salt intake out of the water.


Protein content: 18g

Mussels – a famously popular foodstuff in Belgium. Belgium – home of “The Muscles From Brussels”, Jean-Claude van Damme. Coincidence? At 18g of protein per 100g of mussel meat, we think not.


Protein content: 15-18g

Quick to prepare and easy to fit into a variety of recipes, prawns are a worthy addition to every shopping list, whether you opt for the finest fresh king prawns or a hefty sack of frozen small ones.

Meat Replacements


Protein content: 25g

This meat alternative is made from wheat gluten, which gives it a texture that’s satisfyingly chewy, unlike softer soy products like tempeh and tofu. It’s also packed with protein, although amounts vary pretty dramatically in the seitan foods and snacks you’ll find on shop shelves, so make sure to check each label for a definitive protein count.


Protein content: 20g

Tofu is not the only soy product in town and tempeh actually outdoes its more famous cousin in terms of its protein and fibre content.

Quorn mince

Protein content: 14.5g

You can’t talk meat-free without mentioning Quorn. As well as containing a solid portion of protein, this mince alternative is high in fibre and low in fat.


Protein content: 12g

Sure, we trash-talked tofu when bigging up tempeh, but it’s also a good source of protein. Tofu is also far more widely available than tempeh.

RECOMMENDED: The 30 Best Vegetarian Sources Of Protein

Eggs And Dairy


Protein content: 32g

No-one’s saying that eating 100g of parmesan in one sitting is a smart idea, but if you did the protein content would be a big upside.


Protein content: 27g

Take a tip from the Dutch next time you hit the cheese counter for a tasty treat that’s high in protein. Just make sure you also embrace the Dutch love of cycling too, so you work off the high amounts of saturated fat.


Protein content: 25g

Britain’s favourite cheese brings plenty of protein to the table. That includes the lower-fat versions, if you’re trying to keep your saturated fat intake down.


Protein content: 24g

Don’t be shy of the cheeseboard, that’s what we’re learning here. Just behind the mighty cheddar comes stilton, which contains a stiltload of protein at 24g per 100g. All the usual qualms about cheese remain – lots of saturated fat and salt being the biggest concerns – but we’re not sure there’s a tastier way to up your protein intake than a slice of blue.


Protein content: 18g

One way to look at this is to shriek with joy and assume that pizza is now on the protein-packed menu. Another way, and let’s be honest a better way, is to slice some mozzarella onto a salad rich with greens to up its protein tally.


Protein content: 13g

One of the finest ways to up your protein intake at breakfast time, a couple of medium eggs will easily net you over 10g of the stuff.

Cottage cheese

Protein content: 10g

You can get versions of cottage cheese with added protein nowadays, but even the standard stuff contains a good portion. Compared with other cheese it’s also relatively low in fat and salt.

Greek yogurt

Protein content: 10g

As well as protein, Greek (not Greek style) yogurt is packed full of healthy bacteria and enzymes that will do wonders for your digestive health.

Nuts, Seeds, Legumes And Grains

Pumpkin Seeds

Protein content: 30g

Ever wondered why pumpkins look so swole? It’s because they’re full of pumpkin seeds and you should be too, because along with their impressive protein content, pumpkin seeds offer other nutritional riches in the shape of magnificent magnesium and zincy zinc.


Protein content: 25-28g

The underground legume is a fabulous source of protein, and if you steer clear of the roasted and salted varieties, it’s a fairly healthy snack. In peanut butter form you’ll get around 4g of protein per tablespoon.


Protein content: 21g

Along with their high protein content, almonds are also high in fibre and a great source of vitamin E, which is needed to maintain healthy skin and eyes.


Protein content: 20g

Find a friend because this is a prime fist-bump opportunity. Perhaps the tastiest nuts of all are plump with protein. Sure, they’re also pretty fatty and if you opt for the roasted and salted versions, salty as heck, but still, pistachios are on the list.

Cashew nuts

Protein content: 18g

Any open packet of mixed nuts is quickly picked clean of all the cashews. Is that because they are the tastiest of nuts or because they’re high in protein? It’s probably the taste thing, but they’re protein-rich too.

Chia seeds

Protein content: 17g

The most in-vogue seed around is chock-full of fibre and protein, and most of the fat it contains is of the “good” unsaturated variety.


Protein content: 15-17g

Along with a solid amount of protein, walnuts are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, and they look like little brains. Which is a benefit in our book.

Brazil nuts

Protein content: 14g

Fun fact: brazil nut trees can grow to 50m in height and live for up to 1,000 years. They can be so tall that when the fruit ripens and drops it reaches speeds of up to 80km/h on the the way to the ground. Still thinking about protein? The nuts contain protein.

Edamame beans

Protein content: 13g

These tasty beans can be bought frozen to consume at your convenience and add a shot of fibre, vitamins and minerals to your diet alongside the protein. If you find them a tad bland try livening them up with fresh lemon juice, smoked paprika and a pinch of salt.


Protein content: 10g

You can get souped-up versions of oats that have even more protein crammed into them, but the bog-standard supermarket own-brand versions aren’t light on the stuff. No breakfast is complete without them.


Protein content: 7-9g

Whatever your favourite type of lentil is, you can be sure it’s adding some extra protein to your plate. Use them to thicken meaty stews and bulk up salads.


Protein content: 7g

One of the earliest cultivated legumes – dating back 7,500 years in the Middle East – chickpeas are particularly rich in folate, a B vitamin that helps to support and maintain a healthy nervous system. Blend with lemon, fresh garlic and tahini for an easy and delicious homemade hummus.

Kidney beans

Protein content: 8g

A 120g serving (half a regular can) provides an impressive 7.4g of fibre, which plays a key role in healthy digestive function, as well as 8.3g of protein. Don’t confine these tasty beans to chilli con carne – they’re great in curries, stews and salads too.


Protein content: 6g

It may seem the most basic, bland, at-least-the-children’ll-eat-them legume there is, but a few spoonfuls of peas adds a useful amount of protein to your plate.


Protein content: 5g (cooked)

Quinoa’s protein stats look more impressive when you look at its uncooked numbers, but at 5g for 100g – not a mad amount of quinoa, compared with chomping down 100g of parmesan for example – it’s a good way to get some extra protein on your plate, especially if you’re not a meat-eater.

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