Grams of Protein in High-Protein Foods

Grams of Protein in Chicken, Eggs, Beans, and More

Protein rich foods
High-protein foods. Maximilian Stock Ltd./Photolibrary/Getty Images

Do you want to be sure you are eating enough protein each day? If you know how much protein you need, then you can begin to select the high-protein foods which will provide it best. While you might immediately think of chicken, fish, and red meat as a source of protein, you can also find protein from plant sources such as beans and seeds.

Quick Look at Grams of Protein in Meat, Chicken, and Fish

An ounce of meat or skinless poultry has approximately 7 grams of protein when cooked, or 6 grams of protein per ounce for portions weighed before cooking.

Fish has a little more than 6 grams of protein per ounce cooked.

The ounce-equivalents of protein foods are those that best match 1 ounce of lean beef, pork, skinless poultry, fish or shellfish, providing about 7 grams of protein. These include:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter
  • 1/4 cup cooked beans, peas, or tofu
  • 2 tablespoons hummus

With these rules of thumb in mind, here is a look at high-protein foods, with the grams of protein in common servings and measures. You will see that some vary from the general rule of thumb.

Chicken and Turkey

Chicken and turkey are excellent sources of lean protein, especially if you have skinless portions. A 4-ounce portion of chicken or turkey is about the size of a deck of cards and provides 35 grams of protein. Once cooked, you can enjoy chicken cold or hot, as part of a salad, on sandwiches, by itself, or in other dishes. It can be helpful to check a list of the protein grams in different parts of the chicken.

  • Chicken breast (3.5 ounces): 30 grams protein
  • Chicken thigh: 10 grams protein (for average size)
  • Chicken drumstick: 11 grams protein
  • Chicken wing: 6 grams protein
  • Chicken meat, cooked (4 ounces): 35 grams protein
  • Turkey breast, roasted (4 ounces): 34 grams protein
  • Turkey breast luncheon meat, 1 slice (0.7 ounces): 3.6 grams protein

    Beef

    Most cuts of beef have 7 grams of protein per ounce. You don't have to eat large quantities of beef or other high-protein foods. A simple quarter-pound hamburger patty can provide most of your protein needs for the day as follows:

    • Most cuts of beef: 7 grams of protein per ounce
    • Hamburger patty (4 ounces or 1/4 pound): 28 grams protein
    • Steak (6 ounces): 42 grams protein

    Fish

    Fish and shellfish are good sources of protein, one that cultures around the world rely on for their protein intake. Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines provide beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. However, children and women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant need to choose from seafood that has lower levels of mercury contamination.

    • Most fish fillets or steaks are about 22 grams of protein for 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) of cooked fish, or 6 grams per ounce
    • Shrimp, 3-ounce serving: 18 grams protein
    • Tuna, 6-ounce can: 40 grams of protein

    Pork

    Pork can be an enjoyable addition to your diet and it has about the same protein content as beef and poultry. You will want to look for leaner cuts. Cured pork products are also likely to have more salt and sugar than you may want in your diet.

    • Pork chop, average: 22 grams protein
    • Pork loin or tenderloin, 4 ounces: 29 grams protein
    • Ham, 3-ounce serving: 19 grams protein
    • Ground pork, 1 ounce raw: 5 grams; 3 ounces cooked: 22 grams protein
    • Bacon, 1 slice: 3 grams protein
    • Canadian-style bacon (back bacon), slice: 5 to 6 grams protein

    Eggs and Dairy

    These round out the animal products that are high in protein. You can find dairy products that are lower in fat if you want to avoid it. While not appropriate for a vegan diet, some vegetarians allow milk and eggs and can make use of them as a protein source.

    • Egg, large: 6 grams protein
    • Milk, 1 cup: 8 grams protein
    • Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup:15 grams protein
    • Yogurt, 1 cup: usually 8 to12 grams protein (check label)
    • Soft cheeses (Mozzarella, Brie, Camembert): 6 grams protein per ounce
    • Medium cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss): 7 or 8 grams protein per ounce
    • Hard cheeses (Parmesan): 10 grams protein per ounce

    Beans (Including Soy)

    Beans are a staple source of protein for vegan and vegetarian diets. They are lower in some of the essential amino acids than animal protein foods, but if you eat a diet that includes a variety of plant sources, you are unlikely to have a deficit in any.

    • Tofu, 1/2 cup: 20 grams protein
    • Tofu, 1 ounce: 2.3 grams protein
    • Soy milk, 1 cup: 6 to 10 grams protein
    • Most beans (black, pinto, lentils, etc) 1/2 cup cooked: 7 to 10 grams protein
    • Soybeans, 1/2 cup cooked: 14 grams protein
    • Split peas, 1/2 cup cooked: 8 grams protein

    Nuts and Seeds

    As with beans, nuts and seeds are high in protein and can give a boost to vegan or vegetarian diets. Note that the amount needed to supply a protein equivalent is less for nuts and seeds than it is for beans. In addition to protein, most nuts and seeds provide polyunsaturated fats, fiber, minerals (such as magnesium and calcium), and phytonutrients.

    • Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons: 8 grams protein
    • Almonds, 1/4 cup: 8 grams protein
    • Peanuts, 1/4 cup: 9 grams protein
    • Cashews, 1/4 cup: 5 grams protein
    • Pecans, 1/4 cup: 2.5 grams protein
    • Sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup: 6 grams protein
    • Pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup: 8 grams protein
    • Flax seeds, 1/4 cup: 8 grams protein

    Protein Powders

    The amount of protein and carbohydrate in a protein powder varies a fair amount depending on the source of the powder, so you will need to read the label. Protein powder can be made from whey (milk) protein, egg, soy, rice, peas, and other sources. Many types of protein powder are marketed to body builders and athletes. Be sure to check the labels and avoid any unwanted additives.

    A Word From Verywell

    High-protein food sources include some of the most expensive cuts of meat and fish as well as the budget-friendly choices of beans, chicken, and canned tuna. Try a variety of high-protein food and discover the many ways you can enjoy them.

    Sources:

    All About the Protein Foods Group. Choose MyPlate. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods. Published July 29, 2016.

    USDA Food Composition Databases. USDA. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/.

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