22 High Protein Foods: The Ultimate List for Muscle Building

I cannot count the reasons why you should increase your protein intake.

If you are trying to lose weight, protein is your best friend. If you are trying to gain muscles, protein is your best friend.

The key to almost every diet is to increase your protein intake and lower your carbs and sugar intake.

With that being said, let’s take a look at some foods high in protein you should incorporate in your daily diet.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Before we go to the list of foods high in protein, you must understand how much protein you actually need.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the recommended dose is 0.4 grams of protein per pound.

Or, if you are weighing close to 180 pounds, which is usually the standard weight of males between 20 and 30 years old, you need 72 grams of protein per day.

Women weighing around 130 pounds need 48 grams of protein per day.

However, all these are the bare minimum numbers, and you could increase the number to 0.6 grams of protein per pound.

If you do not like math and calculate everything, just think of it this way, you want/need 25 grams of protein per meal, which equals 75 grams of protein through the day.

You can always get some extra with snacks in between meals.

A word of caution: If you do not get enough protein, you will suffer from fatigue, tiredness and muscle loss.

High Protein Foods

high protein foods

Greek Yogurt

We start you off with some dairy products, and Greek yogurt is on the top of the list.

The difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt is in the amount of protein and sugar.

For instance, Greek yogurt contains two times more protein, and three times less sugar than standard regular yogurts.

And do not even get me started with those flavored types of yogurt that are rich in sugars.

Cottage Cheese

Cheese, in general, is a great source of protein, but cottage cheese is at the top of the list for foods high in protein.

One-half cup of cottage cheese will provide you with 14 grams of protein.

Rich with casein protein, cottage cheese is good since you are slowly digesting the protein, supplying your body with a steady supply of it.

Cottage cheese is great as a snack before bedtime, or in between meals.

Just one caution, the cheese is also high in sodium, so look at the labels to find the best one with the lowest amount of sodium.

Swiss Cheese

Another dairy product, Swiss cheese contains 8 grams of protein per 1 oz. of serving.

If you compare it ounce for ounce, no other product beats Swiss cheese on the list foods high in protein.

This makes Swiss cheese the best option for your quick sandwiches and burgers.

One thing to note, Swiss cheese usually contains lots of fat, especially a full-fat version.

Look for low-fat versions of Swiss cheese.


Bear in mind, you want low-fat milk here, somewhere in the range of 2% fat milk.

One cup of milk contains 8 grams of protein, making it a great beverage for after workouts.

I like to get a glass of milk after my workout to restore the balance of liquids in my body, and get some protein before I prepare my dinner.

Soy Milk

If you want to opt for a milk that doesn’t come from a cow, soy milk is a great alternative as it contains the same amount of protein as 2% fat milk.

For those of you who are lactose intolerant, soy milk can be a great alternative for soaking your cereal in or for your post-gym shakes.

Just make sure to look for brands that sell unsweetened soy milk.


Another great source of protein, when it comes to eggs, you want the egg white, not the yolks.

Some people even prefer to prepare their scramble eggs just by using whites.

But that is for gym junkies and bodybuilders.

If you are more like the regular Joe, two eggs will do the trick.

One egg contains 6 grams of protein, and combined with some cheese, you get a great breakfast or dinner.

One way to beef up your morning scramble eggs is to look for eggs fortified with omega-3 fatty acids.


Going to the meat department of foods high in protein, steak is the king of the crop, as it contains 23 grams per 3 oz. of serving.

The leaner the meat, the more protein it has.

As an added bonus, steak contains just 1 gram of protein to every 7 calories, making the protein to calories ratio one of the best on the market.

Look for round steak as it is one of the most economical meat options.

Just make sure to prepare your steak quickly as it can dry out with heating.

Ground Beef

Beef might be little expensive, but you can afford to splurge from time to time.

One 3 oz. a serving contains 18 grams of protein, which is almost the entire recommended dose of protein per meal.

Make sure to look for 90% and more lean beef so you don’t get much fat.

And for those who love to build muscles, ground beef comes with a healthy dose of creatine, the compound everyone wants when they are building muscles.

Boneless Pork

Pork chops are a regular choice, and they fall somewhere in between chicken breasts and ground beef due to their price to protein to fat ratio.

While pork chops do contain more protein, 26 grams per serving, they also come with more fat than beef.

Chicken Breast

Now here comes the ultimate cheap source of protein.

Chicken breasts are the most commonly consumed foods high in protein, as they come with a relatively cheap price (two or three times cheaper than beef for example) and a healthy dose of protein.

One serving delivers 24 grams of protein.

Turkey Breast

Same as with chicken breast, turkey breast is another cheap source of protein.

Both chicken and turkey breast deliver the same amount of protein.

One way to make your turkey breasts more delicious and healthy is brining before cooking.


You simply cannot imagine a protein rich diet without tuna.

The best option is yellowfin tuna, but if you cannot afford it, you can opt out for the cheaper canned tuna.

Aside from delivering more than 20grams of protein per serving, tuna also brings a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins to the table.


Same as with beef, salmon is something you can splurge in from time to time.

The best option is sockeye salmon, as it delivers 20% more protein than the standard salmon.

It also tastes better, but with a tad higher price.

One serving of salmon delivers around 25 grams of protein.

If you want to get better taste, look for salmon with the skin intact.

This will provide your salmon with better flavor during cooking.


I’ve already written why tilapia is good for you.

One of the biggest reasons to go for tilapia fish is the price, as this delight is common at almost every fish market.

With a mild taste, tilapia is a good source of protein with 21 grams per serving.

The only thing to look at is where the fish has been farmed.

American-farmed tilapia fish is better option than those Asia-imported.


Next on the list of cheap foods high in protein is sardines.

A small tin of sardines brings you vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and more than 20 grams of protein.

And I am sure you know how cheap sardines are, compared to some of the fresh fishes on the market.

The trick here is that sardines also come with a healthy dose of fat, but the price to protein ratio well compensates.


We have to respect our vegetarian friends out there.

For those of you that cannot (or do not want to eat meat and dairy), beans are a great source of protein.

Canned legumes and navy beans lead the way with 20 grams per one cup of serving.

And just so you do not feel hungry or crave for food, beans also come with a healthy dose of fiber to keep you full.


Another one on the list of foods high in protein for vegetarians, dry lentils are a great way to increase your protein intake without feeling your conscience.

And the best part is, you do not need to presoak them which is required for dried beans.

Simply put your dried lentils in a pot with water, cook for 20 minutes and you’ve got yourself a meal.

If you want, you can combine them with diced vegetables.

Or for those who do not mind meat, dried lentils are a great side dish for your chicken and turkey breasts.


Be it cooked, steamed or roast, mushrooms are a great way to prepare a meat-free meal that is high in protein.

One serving of 100 grams of mushrooms comes with approximately 2 grams of protein, which is not much, but you can always combine them with some veggies or beans.


When it comes to vegetables high in protein, broccoli is the absolute best option.

Packed with fiber, potassium, vitamin K and vitamin C, broccoli improves your overall health while providing you with healthy dose of protein.

One cup of broccoli that you can use as side dish contains 3 grams of protein and only 31 calories.


You can mix several nuts, but the best are almonds.

One thing to note: if you are buying package from the supermarket or grocery store is to look for unsalted nuts.

Most nuts are high in sodium, and if you want to pay attention to your sodium intake, ask for unsalted in the grocery store.

Depending of your mix, you can get between 6 and 10 grams of protein per cup of serving.

Quinoa Seeds

We are almost at the end of the list of foods high in protein, which means we are getting to the side dishes and snacks.

Quinoa seeds are your best option, as they come packed with 8 grams of protein per serving, and their versatility makes them good addition to salads, smoothies, pastries and everything in between.

They are also rich with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, all of which contribute for quinoa seeds to be classified as superfood.

Pumpkin Seeds

For me, pumpkin seeds are the healthiest and cheapest snack for in between meals.

One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 5 grams of protein with only 100 calories.

You simply cannot find such low calorie snack that comes with healthy benefits as pumpkin seeds.

In addition to protein, they are good source of iron, zinc and magnesium.


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