There is a good reason protein is such a hot macro everyone seeks out for post-workout meals and shakes. Protein is responsible for repairing muscle tears caused by resistance training and helps it rebuild and grow.

If you are working out to build a bigger, stronger body with more mass, it’s a must in your daily diet.

These high-protein foods provide the nutrients you need for muscle growth and taste way better than protein powder.

Benefits of Protein

Research has found that following a high-protein diet comes with many benefits. 

Weight loss, increased satiety, higher metabolic rate, and improved muscle gains are some of the perks of choosing more protein but what are the best protein sources? 

Although more protein may be beneficial, choosing the right source is essential. 

Consuming more protein in the form of fried chicken for example will not provide the same benefits as consuming leaner protein sources, such as ground turkey. Below is a list of the top 15 best protein sources for weight loss.

15 Best High-Protein Foods for Building Muscle

The 15 best high-protein foods to fuel muscle gain

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1. Beef

Beef is considered one of the top sources of protein. Of course, if you are looking to lose weight this doesn’t mean reaching for more hamburgers.

Choosing lean cuts of beef to incorporate into your meals can help you boost your protein intake while still hitting your weight loss goals. 

The best lean cuts of beef include eye of round roast and steak, sirloin tip side steak, top round roast and steak, bottom round roast and steak, and top sirloin steak. You can also choose leaner options for ground beef, such as 85-90% lean [1].

2. Chicken

Chicken is another great and versatile protein source. 

Choosing ground chicken or chicken breast provides the leanest options however, roasted chicken and chicken thighs are still considered good options for weight loss. 

Chicken is naturally leaner than beef and compliments many lighter dishes. A medium size chicken breast (100 grams) provides roughly 22 grams of high-quality protein [2].

3. Salmon

salmon and edamame

Salmon is best known for being rich in omega-3 fats, but it is also a great source of protein. Salmon is an excellent addition to a healthy diet that supports weight loss because the high fat and protein content fills you up quickly during meals and keeps you full for longer.

Salmon is not as budget-friendly as other protein sources so it may be more difficult for some to include it in their diet regularly.

4. Halibut 

Halibut is one of the best high-protein foods on this list.

This white fish is lighter in flavor than salmon while still packing a whopping 30 grams of protein per serving (100 grams).

Halibut goes well with many dishes; however, it is even more expensive than salmon with the average price per pound coming in around $25.99. Its flavor is similar to tilapia, but halibut is more nutrient-dense [3].

5. Eggs

For those on a budget, eggs are an excellent and inexpensive protein source. They are also one of the best sources of choline. 1 egg provides roughly 6 grams of protein and 70 calories. You can easily take them on the go or add them to a salad dish for an extra protein boost without the high calories [4].

6. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt and Tempeh

Yogurt is a common staple in many households, but did you know that Greek-style yogurt contains a lot more protein than regular? Both consist of the same ingredients and provide probiotic benefits; however,

Greek yogurt contains 20 grams of protein per 7-ounce serving. Regular yogurt often contains higher amounts of sugar and only 8 grams per 8-ounce serving. Swapping out your regular yogurt for a low-sugar Greek yogurt can boost your protein intake while also cutting out unnecessary added sugars [56]. 

7. Tuna

For seafood lovers not looking to splurge on salmon or halibut, tuna is a great budget-friendly fish. Tuna is low in calories, widely available, and incredibly versatile. Add tuna to your salad or snack on it with some crackers. If you enjoy tuna salad, skip the mayonnaise, and use plain Greek yogurt instead.

8. Tempeh

If you are vegan, vegetarian, or just like to explore plant-based options, this one is for you. Tempeh contains more protein than tofu, about 20 grams per serving (100 grams). It is equally as versatile but not as widely available as tofu [7].

9. Turkey

Cottage cheese and turkey meat

Turkey is a great lean protein source and an alternative to chicken or beef. A serving of turkey (100 grams) can provide roughly 13 grams of protein.

Swap out your pork sausage or bacon for turkey sausage or bacon instead for a leaner option. You can also swap out high-fat burgers for turkey burgers to cut down on the fat and calories [8].

10. Edamame

Also known as immature soybeans, edamame is not only rich in protein, but it’s also rich in fiber. 

A one-cup serving contains about 224 calories, 18 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fiber. Because of this, edamame is incredibly filling. It is also an easy add-on to any dish or to just eat plain as a snack [9].

11. Quinoa

Pistachios and quinoa

Quinoa is one of the only grains that contains a complete protein source.

This means it contains all the essential acids needed to make a protein. One cup contains about 120 calories and 8 grams of protein. Its flavor is similar to rice and it works well in many dishes [10].

12. Cottage cheese

Another convenient protein source that is often overlooked is cottage cheese. One cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains 160 calories and a whopping 25 grams of protein. 

It is also a rich source of calcium. Pair it with some fruit and nuts to up the protein and fiber content for a filling and nutrient-rich treat [11].

13. Pistachios

Nuts tend to be high in calories therefore many people looking to lose weight will avoid them. Nuts are a great source of plant-based protein and healthy fats. 

Pistachios are among some of the lower-calorie nuts, with one serving (1 ounce) yielding 160 calories and 6 grams of protein. Add them to your trail mix or sprinkle them on top of your yogurt for an extra protein boost [12].

14. Chia seeds

These tiny seeds that resemble poppy seeds are packed full of protein and fiber. One serving (1 ounce) contains 140 calories, 5 grams of protein, and 10 grams of fiber. 

Like nuts, they are very versatile and can be added to yogurt parfaits, baked goods, and more for a protein and fiber boost [13].

15. Almonds 

Along with pistachios, almonds are another lower-calorie nut that provides loads of nutrition. 

One serving (1 ounce) of almonds contains about 165 calories and 6 grams of protein. Almonds are an easy grab-and-go snack option to replace higher-carb options [14].

Bottom Line of High Protein Foods

A high-protein diet has been associated with muscle gain but for those looking to build muscle, choosing a good protein source may be a challenge. 

It’s important to choose lean protein sources, such as the ones listed above, to get the most out of your weight loss. 

Add some of these high-protein foods in place of your usual snack or meal. When in doubt, aim to have a good source of protein at every meal and snack.

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