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A list of 50 protein foods you can add to your diet

Protein is one of the three macro-nutrients that fuels our bodies. And while carbohydrates and fats in one’s diet are questioned, we almost all agree that protein should be the staple of any nutrition plan. It also has numerous benefits, supports weight loss, muscle building, and metabolic health.  These are few of the reasons why we are so obsessed with it, but what else does protein do for us? It works to slow the release of carbohydrates into our bloodstream, which can prevent the sudden spikes in blood sugar levels that are associated with fat storage and drop of energy.

While the average individual is consuming enough protein to not be deficient, some people can definitely benefit an extra egg or two in their diet. Physique – minded individuals are looking at 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight to maintain and build muscle which is far from the 50 grams FDA recommends. Those who are on the quest for fat loss should even increase up that amount to 1.2 – 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight in order to prevent muscle loss while shedding the pounds off and getting that lean body.

The question that comes to mind, “How do you get that hefty amount of protein in your diet?”. Well, you have to make sure, next time you do grocery shopping, to fill up your cart with high protein packed foods, rather than “Cheetos” and “Lays”.

Today’s supermarkets are filled with highly processed foods that can scare your fitness gains away and ensure that you never reach your goals, so you better grab a pen and take notes. Pick your favorites from the list of protein packed foods I’m about to share down below.

Here’s the list of 50 protein-friendly foods that you can find In almost any supermarket.

1.Eggs

A personal favorite, cheap, extremely accessible protein source with the whopping 6 grams of protein per egg, makes it number one contender in the category. Eggs are a great way to start off the day, scrambled with a slice of ham on top of a toast. Yummy.

Note: Make sure you also watch out for the fat content of the eggs. It has 6 grams of fat per egg so it adds up quite fast if you make a decent size omelet. What I recommend is sticking to ¼ ratio. For every 4 eggs, you are having 1 yolk.

2.Greek Yogurt

Rich in calcium, cheap, delicious, a great source of protein.  Add the stomach-friendly probiotic bacteria to the list and it sky-rockets the greek yogurt to the top of the list. Great for a snack, mix it with a piece of fruit add a scoop of whey protein.

Note: Be aware that the full-fat version of the yogurt can easily add calories to your diet. Stick with the low-fat versions even if they are not as good tasting. I know it’s a sacrifice, but it will pay off.

 

MILK protein packed foods

 

3.Milk

Good source of Vitamin D and calcium, plus it has close biological value to the one of the egg. Milk is a great way to add some extra protein to your diet. Chugging a glass of milk with your breakfast puts 8 grams of protein ahead.

Note: Liquid calories are not as filling as ones from solid sources. If you are dieting down there might be better options that will fill you up for longer periods of time. Also, the fat adds up quickly here so be aware. 1.5% and 2% milk are good options that keep your fat intake in check.

4.Cheese

Delicious, and also a flavorful option that you can add to any dish. An easy way to add protein to support your goals but keep in mind that the nutrient breakdown of this amazing food is split between fat and protein so it is really calorie dense food.

Note: Aim for reduced fat versions here as well. Might not be as tasty but your abs will thank you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cheese protein packed foods             

      

5.Cottage Cheese

A great source of casein protein – a slow digesting protein that is supplying your body with the needed amino acids over prolonged periods of time. This a great pre-bed time snack.

Note: You can add a spoon of calorie free pancake syrup a handful of frozen berries and mix it up. Makes an awesome dessert.

Cottage cheese dessert

6.Soy milk

If you are lactose intolerant soy milk is a great way to substitute the cow-derived dairy. Add a cup to your cereal or post-workout protein shake and you are looking at extra 8 grams. Not too shabby for a non-dairy product.

Note: Try to buy “unsweetened” versions of the soy milk as the flavored ones are packed with carbohydrates and simple sugars.

7.Whey protein powder

If pressured for time or unable to cook there is no better option out there. The best way to add extra protein to your diet and satisfy your sweet tooth cravings. You can cook with it, enjoy a post-workout shake or add to a smoothie, you simply can’t go wrong.

Note: When buying a protein powder, watch out for extra fillers, sugars, and carbohydrates.

 

8.Chicken Breast

One of the leanest sources of protein. No wonder it’s the go-to source of protein for anyone who’s  serious about their fitness. It does get boring after a while but you can definitely enjoy a meal or two a day, consisting chicken.

Note: Try to get it fresh, after few days in the refrigerator the smell is unbearable. It can speed up your fat loss process, but not by providing you with nutrients you need. You will choke off the sharp smell of rotten flesh and puke. Okay, I exaggerated a bit here but get it fresh if you can.

9.Steak

My personal favorite restaurant option. Medium to a rare rib-eye steak with a side of grilled veggies and BBQ sauce. Doesn’t get any better than that. Doh, I’m starving now!

Note: You want to keep your cholesterol levels in check, so allow yourself this amazing threat few days a week at most.

10.Lean ground beef

Burgers aren’t awful for you and your body, especially if made with 96/4 lean ground beef. You will also enjoy bursts of energy in the gym as the beef is a great source of creatine.

Note: Make sure you are getting your hands on “LEAN” ground beef at the supermarket. The other options are high in fat so you want to stay away from them. And if you put few extra pounds eating home-made burgers just know that “I told you”! 

Lean ground beef protein packed food

11.Pork chop

Great way to spice up your meat menu and add variety to your diet. Get the leanest cut of pork chop toss some veggies in a pan, pre-heat the oven and stick it in there (the pan I mean) for 40 minutes. Voila! You have yourself a lovely healthy dinner.

Note: Pork chop meat tends to be dry so soak it up in a marinade to make it tender and juicy. A glass of wine or beer does an amazing job at making it taste like a restaurant dish. And one more thing, you did not get that tip from me!

12.Turkey Breast

Another lean cut of meat you can add to your shopping cart to support your fitness goals. Not my personal favorite as it is too dry for my taste, but hey, everybody has a different opinion. It might be the source of protein for you.

Note: Once you prepare it, wrap it up In foil and let it sit for 10 minutes before you carve it up.

13.Bison meat

I personally haven’t tried bison so I can’t express an opinion on it but I have science back me up here, it is muscle fueling food. It’s a great source of Zinc and Iron and has the whooping 21 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Note: Just like with the steak, you don’t want it overcooked as it gets too dry. Medium to rare is the way to go.

14.Tuna fish 

Low in fat and calories but rich in protein, makes it one of the top choices amongst fitness enthusiasts. It also has Omega – 3 fatty acids. What’s not to like about it?

Note: If you are buying canned tuna, try to stay away from the one soaked in oil and get the one with water.

Salmon protein packed food

 

15.Salmon

Toast with a low-fat Philadelphia, a slice of pickle and smoked salmon on top. My dream breakfast. Packed with healthy fats (not the Philadelphia) it will keep your heart healthy and arteries unclogged.

Note: Here are some great ideas you can do with smoked salmon

16.Tilapia

Another lean source of protein. Doesn’t have the dense fishy taste and is really easy to cook. Also, low in sodium which makes it a go-to choice for many professionals athletes getting ready for photo shoots or competitions.

Note: Try to get American-farmed tilapia rather than the Asian one. It is fresher.

17.Halibut

Halibut is prized for its delicate sweet flavor, snow-white color, and firm flaky meat. It is an excellent source of high-quality protein and minerals, low in sodium, fat, and calories and contains a minimum of bones.

Note: Halibut cheeks are sweet flavored and are considered a delicacy.

18.Octopus

Well known for its delicious tender texture, the octopus is also a very nutritious food. It is a good – high source of 12 different vitamins and minerals! This means that in each 3 oz serving of octopus you are consuming more than 10% daily value (DV) of 12 essential nutrients that you need every day. It is a lean protein source, low in fat and contains as much protein as a similar 3 oz serving of chicken.

Note: When preparing the octopus don’t rush the process else you will have a chewing gum, not a delicacy. Take your time and cook for 3-4 hours.

19.Shrimp

Plenty of vitamins, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and goes perfectly with cocktail sauce. Great way to add protein to your diet if you are following a low-calorie meal plan.

Note:  Snapping shrimp make louder sounds than any other marine animals, producing a noise with their claws that is greater than a gunshot or jet engine. 

Shrimp protein packed food

20.Anchovies

This tiny fish is a great source of essential nutrients. Despite its high sodium content, it is not a bad way to add extra protein to a salad or any type of bread, pizza(oops), pasta, etc.

Note: To reduce the saltiness, soak in water for an hour before eating.

21.Sardines

High in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, makes the sardines a good choice for a protein source. You can get them canned which makes it even better (who has time to cook nowadays). Studies have shown that Vitamin D increases testosterone levels so you might want to include it in your diet.

Note: Not going to put a note here, you are not reading them anyway. And if you do, go grab my FREE report “Teaching you how to eat according to your goals”.

22.Trout

The amount of protein in trout varies slightly depending on how it was raised. If you’re aiming to get more protein in your diet, opt for farm-raised trout instead of wild trout.

Note: Ask your fishmonger to clean and bone whole rainbow trout for you if you can’t find precleaned fish.Experiment with different fillings for your rainbow trout, such as garlic mixed with sautéed dark leafy greens, that is the advice of Michelle Kerns in her article for Livestrong.

Legumes protein packed food

 

23.Beans

Not only it’s the cheapest source of protein out there, but this legume is also packed with dietary fiber. Widely accessible with tons of different variations beans make a perfect add, in one’s meal plan.

Note: If you are cooking beans make sure you never undercook them else your spouse might kick you out of the house.

24.Lentils

Another great source of fiber and vital source of minerals. Lentils is an awesome inexpensive way to get more of the muscle building macronutrient in your diet.

Note: They don’t require pre-soak like beans do. Ready to be cooked right out of the package.

25.Peas

Foods in the legume family are good sources of vegetarian protein, and peas are no exception. One cup contains 7.9 grams almost as much as a cup of milk.

Note: Elle Penner shares an amazing recipe at http://www.accordingtoelle.com/. “I blend frozen peas, toasted pine nuts, fresh mint, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese and serve over linguine,” – she says.

26.Soybeans

Even though soy protein is a plant protein and typically lower in certain amino acids (protein building blocks) than animal proteins like those found in chicken eggs or cow’s milk, once adjustments have been made for digestibility and other metabolic factors, soybeans turn out to receive a protein quality rating that is equal to the ratings for egg or cow’s milk. That’s what researchers have found recently.

Note: It is recommended that you pre-soak them, before cooking to shorten the time for preparation.

27.Garbanzo beans (Chickpeas)

Garbanzo beans have a delicious nutlike taste and buttery texture. They provide a concentrated source of protein that can be enjoyed year-round and is available either dried or canned. The Latin name for garbanzo beans, Cicer arietinum, means “small ram,” reflecting the unique shape of this legume that somewhat resembles a ram’s head.

Note: When cooking the chickpeas add 3/1 cups of water to beans ratio. As you bring the water to boil reduce the heat and let cook for a couple of hours.

Tofu protein packed food

 

28.Tofu

Vegetarian-friendly option, this is the go-to source of protein for no meat eaters. Great to add to a stir fry or to throw it on the grill.

Note: Tofu is one of the oldest foods. It is said that almost 2000 years ago, tofu was discovered accidentally by a Chinese cook, who curdled soy milk using nigari seaweed. It was then introduced to Japan and called “Okabe”.

29.Roast beef

Great for your lunch box. Two slices of whole wheat bread, avocado spread, and roast beef makes a perfect lunch. Add an apple on the side and a protein bar if you are trying to bulk up.

Note: Be aware of the extra fat content. Always read the nutrition labels.

30.Canadian Bacon

Six-time less fat than regular bacon and still tastes great. Add 15grams of protein per 3oz.  serving and it is a must have on your breakfast menu.

Note: You may find it under the name of “peameal bacon”

 

Deli high protein foods

 

31.Chorizo

Spanish-style pork sausage that is a great additive to soups, salads, and pasta dishes. Adds flavor and more importantly, adds protein.

Note: Smoked chorizo has a much stronger flavor that you either love or hate.

32.Pepperoni

Homemade pizza isn’t too bad for your re-feed or cheat days. But you still have to make sure you hit that protein goal for the day so add some pepperoni.

Note: Try to get lower sodium version here as well.

33.Ham

Not as good as chicken but ham is a great deli option you can add to your menu. Ham and cheese sandwich for lunch is the easiest meal you can make to ensure you get that protein up. Just make sure you’re using the lower fat versions.

Note: Eating processed food is not the best alternative as it has a high sodium content but if you are pressured for time and unable to cook go for it.

34.Beef jerky

There is no jerking around when I say I can put beef jerky on the top of the protein packed snacks. Pure energy on the fly.

Note: There’s a slight chance I’m repeating myself here but try to find a low sodium version.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

35.Peanut butter

Great tasting, protein packed, has healthy fats. We all love it.

Note: Look at the nutrition label and grab the one with least ingredients.

36.Cashews

Great addition to salads and stir-frys, cashews can also add healthy fats and protein. There are numerous studies showing the health benefits of including nuts in your diet so what are you waiting for?

Note: Did you know that you can make cashew milk?

37.Almonds

They are loaded with important nutrients, including fiber, vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium.

Note: Almond spreads are also great.

Walnuts protein packed food

38.Walnuts

Here are 7 of the reasons why you should have walnuts in your diet. Cancer-fighting properties, Heart health, Rare and Powerful Antioxidants, Weight Control, Improved reproductive health in men, brain health, and prevention of diabetes.

Note: Walnuts may help reduce not only the risk of prostate cancer but breast cancer as well

39.Quinoa

It contains the full package of essential amino acids. This South American food that recently became so popular deserves it’s “superfood” nickname.

Note: Quinoa holds lots of water, so you have to make sure you drain it thoroughly after it’s cooked

Quinoa protein packed foods

40.Wheat Germ

You can use it to add a protein boost to your oatmeal, pancakes, and even shakes.

Note: It takes about 50 pounds of wheat to make one pound of wheat germ.

41.Protein bars

Great way to add in-between meals snack and increase your protein intake for the day. Also, satisfy your sweet tooth cravings while remaining guilt free. Look for protein bars that are lower in fat.

Note: I will give you a heads up here. The chocolate cookie tastes incredible.

42.Oats

Good old oats. Nothing fancy here but great for the start of the day. Fiber, decent protein intake and low in fat.

Note: Soak them in a hot water before you eat them.

Oats protein packed foods

43.Pumpkin seeds

Magnesium, iron, zinc and 5 grams of protein per ounce. You can add it to the bakery, salads or pasta dishes.

Note: PUMPkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted to melatonin, the “sleep hormone”. Too much science I know. To simplify it, eat pumpkin seeds and you will sleep better.

44.Ezekiel bread

Made with no added sugar, containing two of the legumes we have on the protein list, Ezekiel wins over other bread by a mile.

Note: It is not gluten free though so it is out of the question for anyone who has celiac disease or is gluten sensitive.

45.Broccoli

Broccoli is an incredibly healthy vegetable, loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and potassium.

Broccoli is also loaded with various bioactive nutrients believed to help protect against cancer.

Calorie for calorie, it is high in protein compared to most vegetables.

Note: Don’t overcook them to get that crunchy taste.

Broccoli protein packed foods

46.Hummus

This savory dip is rich in protein tastes great and is really addictive. It also never gets boring because this company produces 14 different flavors of it.

Note: You can easily prepare it at home, just google hummus recipes and you will be on your way to having a healthy dip in your fridge.

47.Lamb

Good source of protein, the taste is really enjoyable, but the fat content is 65%, half of which is saturated fats so you want to limit your intake to few times a week at most.

Note: Couldn’t come up with any useful tip or information here. So just check this infographic out as it shows you how to cook the different parts of the lamb.

48.Edamame

Fancy name for boiled green soybeans. It tastes better than it sounds and also has rich content of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Note: Great for a snack in front of the TV. Add a drizzle of salt and some lemon juice and you will be ready to go.

49.Soba Noodles

Japanese style noodles that contain more protein than regular pasta. Another thing I can add as a plus here is that they cook twice as fast also.

Note: Rinse the water after boiling here to remove the excess starch.

Soba noodles protein packed food

50.Frozen greek yogurt

Of course, I will save the dessert for last. Frosty and creamy consistency, just like ice cream, but double the protein intake and that’s what you get with this amazing threat.

Note: Get frozen yogurt instead of ice cream when you crave something sweet and cold and you don’t have to feel guilty. Not that I do anyway but …

Thanks for sticking with me to the very end. I know it’s been a long post, but I wanted to give you some ideas on what to add to your shopping cart.

Comment down below what are the top 5 products from this list that you have in your cart.

Also, if you have any other protein foods that you love, share them with me, please!

All the images are copyright of Nutrition Secrets. Hope that Mike Kamo forgives me for ripping him off. If you read that Mike I know Soba Noodles are one of your favorites.

Simeon Krastev About Simeon Krastev

Simeon is a fitness coach with a unique perspective on training and nutrition. For the past six years, he’s been helping busy guys achieve an impactful fit look without putting their life on hold. Stay in touch by connecting with him on LinkedIn.

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2 replies
  1. Timothy
    Timothy says:

    Great list Simeon! I’ve been training for 3 years now but it wasn’t until I got more protein in my diet until I started seeing results. These are some great ideas for protein foods that you have, I will definitely refer to it in the future.
    My personal favorites are Greek yogurt as it takes zero time for preparation and lean ground beef burgers.

    Reply
    • Simeon
      Simeon says:

      That’s awesome Timothy. I had the very same problem myself when I was just starting out. I was consuming far less protein than my body needed but we all learn. That’s the beauty of this journey, continuous progress and improvement.
      If you like greek yogurt, I’m sure you will also like the cottage cheese as a protein snack option.

      Greetings,
      Simeon

      Reply

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