List of High Protein Foods (Including Meats, Fish, Beans, Nuts)

If you are trying to lose weight, it is essential that you eat enough protein. Protein satisfies your body and helps you feel full in between meals, reducing the need to snack on high calories foods. Protein also contributes to muscle building, and because one pound of muscle burns more calories than one pound of fat, as you increase your muscle mass you also lose weight. So a high protein diet that is also low carb and low fat is the perfect weight loss diet.

But how much protein do you need per day for optimal nutrition and weight loss? That’s a good question and depends on both your age and gender, but in general, you should aim for about 50 grams of protein per day. Infants need less protein (about 10 grams per day) and pregnant or breast-feeding women need more protein (about 70 grams per day).

You can eat your daily protein requirements from a variety of protein sources including lean meats, fish, low fat dairy products, nuts and seeds, and beans. Here is a good list of high protein foods to keep in mind as you are choosing your weekly diet plan:

Beans are nutritionally dense in protein, offering 7-10 grams of protein per cup of cooked beans. You can choose your beans from lima beans, black beans (great in low fat tortillas), lentils and pinto beans. Remember your mother’s 3-bean salad? It’s a great source of protein and tastes great when you add a little sliced onion, celery and green pepper to kidney beans, cannellini and garbanzo beans. Use olive oil and apple cider vinegar for the dressing, but replace the sugar with a natural sweetner such as Stevia. Whether you take this famous recipe to a church supper, or serve it at a ladies’ luncheon, you’ll be treating everyone to a high protein, low fat side dish that can also stand in as a main dish.

One of the best sources of protein is tofu. Tofu is made from soybeans that have had the fiber removed, making the tofu extremely easy to digest. A half-cup of tofu contains 20 grams of protein, putting it on par with a serving of tuna fish. Because it is made from soy, tofu also helps protect your heart by lowering bad LDL cholesterol and maintaining healthy HDL cholesterol.

Lean meat is the staple of some of the most popular high protein diets, such as the Atkins or South Beach diet plans. And it is easy to see why! You can put away 30 grams of protein eating 3.5 ounces of chicken breast, which is more than half of the recommended daily serving of protein for most people. Roast beef also packs a whopping 28 grams of protein in a 100 g serving. You can do almost that well with bacon (at 25g) and about half as well with sausage (at 12 g). But remember that beef contributes a lot more fat per serving than does chicken, so poultry choices are almost always a healthier source of protein than beef and pork.

Fish is high in protein, low in saturated fat and offers the added benefit of Omega-3 fatty oil to help decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke. Additionally, you have the choice of either fresh or canned fish, both are excellent sources of protein. If you prefer fresh fish, try eating salmon once or twice per week; you’ll consume an amazing 27 grams of protein for each 3.5 ounce serving of fish. Canned fish is an affordable way of eating the protein you need, offering 20 grams of protein for every 3 ounces of tuna. Try eating a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread everyday for lunch and you can say goodbye to the 3 o’clock munchies.

Dairy products are also a great source of protein, but like beef and pork, it’s important to watch your intake of saturated fat. This means choosing low fat dairy products such as low fat yogurt, reduced fat cheese, and skim milk. Eggs are a good source of protein, offering 6 grams of protein per egg. They also offer zero carbs, but contribute to increased blood cholesterol levels so it’s best to eat the egg white only and skip the yolk (which contains all of the fat and cholesterol).

Nuts and seeds are a great way to snack on protein rich foods. A quarter cup of almonds offers 8 grams of protein, while sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds offer 5-8 grams per quarter cup. Peanut butter offers a bit of protein at 8 grams per 2 tablespoon serving, but also contains 3 grams of sugar and 188 calories, so it would be best to eat peanut butter as a snack and not as the major source of protein.

In additional to the list of high protein foods described above, it is also possible to augment your daily proteins needs by replacing meals with protein supplements. These vary widely by manufacturer and some contain unhealthy levels of sugar, but if you stick with whey-based protein supplements that contain less than 1 gram of sugar, you can include protein supplements as part of your high protein diet without adding unnecessary carbs.