High Protein Foods List

Welcome to our page on foods that are high in protein

This page provides a full explanation of what protein is, why it is a fundamental part of our diet, plus a comprehensive high protein foods list to help you chose the foods with protein in them that are best for your diet. We hope that you will find this page informative and that it helps provide you with the resources to have to a positive effect on your health and well being with regards to high protein foods.

As well as the foods high protein foods list, we also cover other sources of protein, such as protein powder and protein drinks, and we will define the types of protein and difference between ‘complete’ and ‘incomplete’ protein.

Want to know ‘how much protein do I need a day?’ Well we even have a section that answers that for you too!

What is Protein?

Proteins are a fundamental part of the development of cells in the human body. Taking in protein is a way of providing the body with energy, but more importantly of making sure that new cells and tissues are developed and existing ones are maintained and repaired. The word ‘protein’ actually refers to a type of molecule found in foods that can be broken down into amino acids. The body cannot create all the amino acids that it needs, so, of the 20 that it needs the body can create 11, leaving 9, so called “essential amino acids” that the body must take in through food, and specifically protein rich foods. These ‘essential amino acids’ are: Tryptophan, Threonine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Valine and Histidine and they are discussed in more detail further down the page.

So, the best way to get the protein that your body needs is to regularly eat high protein foods. In addition, it is important to note that the body is not able to store protein. This means it is imperative that a constant supply of protein rich foods is eaten, because a lack of protein can result in all sorts of health problems that are detailed below along with other sources of non food protein.

Why do we need protein?

And what happens when we eat protein in our food.

Protein is crucial to our diet and literally every function of the cells and organs. Indeed, the entire body is controlled by proteins.

It is part of our DNA and therefore essential for life.

It produces enzymes that break down food for absorption and the removal of waste products. Other enzymes help us to to develop and reproduce.

Protein is responsible for the development and maintenance of bones, blood, skin, muscle, hair and nails.

It helps in the function of carrying chemical messages round the body to nerve cells to regulate metabolism and to to create antibodies that circulate in the blood and help protect against viruses.

We need a regular amount of protein because unlike carbohydrates and calories in the form of fat, the body is not able to store protein for when it might need to draw on it in an emergency. Therefore you need to ensure a regular intake of high protein foods.

The body can’t absorb whole proteins, or specifically the intestines can’t. It can only absorb single or small chains of amino acids called ‘Peptides’. Because of this, special digestive enzymes break down the proteins so they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered around the body to where they’re needed.

Proteins and the Liver.

The liver is crucial for the creation and processing of protein. The first place most proteins go is to the liver and this is where in fact, most new proteins are made and it’s where protein is broken down in preparation for being used as fuel for the metabolism.

Amazingly, there are up to 50,000 different proteins in the human body and each has a unique gene in our DNA. Each of the unique genes arranges the 22 Amino acids in a sequence. The proteins are continuously being broken down and formed by enzymes in the body, so in an incredible system in the body amino acids are recycled from proteins as well as through diet!

How much protein do I need a day?

When you are told to eat high protein foods or to have a high protein diet for your daily source of protein, the question is then; ‘how much high protein foods do I need a day?’  Here is the recommended daily protein allowance:

  • Toddlers aged 1-3 – 12 grams of protein a day
  • Children aged 4-8 – 19 grams of protein a day
  • Children aged 9-13 – 34 grams of protein a day
  • Girls aged 14 and above – 46 grams of protein a day
  • Boys aged 14-18 – 52 grams of protein a day
  • Men aged 19 and above – 56 grams of protein a day

To find out how much protein is in what you eat and drink, you should always check the nutritional information on the label.

Remember the best way to get the protein that you need is through protein rich foods and these are highlighted below in our high protein foods list. However, there are various other sources of protein that you can use in addition to these foods, such as protein bars, protein shakes made from protein powder and also protein drinks. When asking yourself ‘how much protein do I need a day?’ you should always get at least the amounts shown in the above table.

Don’t eat too much protein!

As we’ve explained, protein is crucial to our health, but eating excessively can damage the kidneys. We get about 13% of our energy from calories from protein which is well above the 8-9% we actually need. So just eat sensibly the food sources rich in protein and don’t be fooled by all the ‘high protein foods supplements’ advertised.

Types of Protein

There are two types of protein known as ‘complete protein’ that derives from animal sources and ‘incomplete protein’ which is found primarily in plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, both of these types of proteins are required. We have already mentioned that proteins are made up of amino acids and it is these amino acids that our bodies need and the 8 that are essential to us are listed below. Different foods contain different proteins and different amino acids so it is vital to take in a variety of  high protein foods to ensure that we get all that we need.

  • Isoleucine (Ile)

    This is needed for the production of muscles and to help muscles recover following exertion. It is also involved in the formation of hemoglobin, blood sugar levels, blood clot formation and also the provision of energy.

  • Leucine (Leu)

    Contributes towards the production of growth hormones and prevents the wasting of muscles. It is used as treatment for many conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

  • Lysine (Lys)

    Lysine is responsible for a variety of things such as the production of hormones, and antibodies. It also absorbs calcium, develops bones, repairs tissue and maintains the nitrogen levels in our bodies.

  • Methionine (Met)

    Methionine acts as an antioxidant, removes metal from our bodies and emulsifies fat. It also aids digestion and helps with arterial plaque prevention.

  • Phenylalanine (Phe)

    This contributes to the support of learning and memory strength, mood elevation and brain processes. Also tyrosine synthesis and neurochemicals dopanine and norepinephrine.

  • Threonine (Thr)

    Threonine monitors bodily proteins for maintaining or recycling processes.

  • Tryptophan (Trp)

    Assists in pain management and allows the body to implement sleep and mood patterns. It also helps serotonin and niacin production.

  • Valine (Val)

    Aids muscle production, recovery, energy, endurance, balances nitrogen levels and is also used in treatment of alcohol related brain damage.

  • Histidine (His)

    Known as the ‘growth amino’ essential for young children. Lack of histidine is associated with impaired speech and growth. Abundant in spirulina, seaweed, sesame, soy, rice and legumes.

The main focus of this page is the high protein foods list where we answer the question ‘what foods are high in protein?’ We have narrowed these high protein foods down by type and also put next to them whether they are a complete or incomplete type of protein, remember your body needs both types of protein.


  • Haddock
  • Mackerel
  • Squid
  • Cod
  • Octopus
  • Shrimp/prawn
  • Whelk
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Scallops
  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Cockles
  • Tuna


  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Bacon
  • Turkey

Dairy products

  • Eggs
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Monterrey cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Whole milk
  • Non-fat milk

Vegetables (incomplete)

  • Asparagus – 3g of protein per 100g
  • Aubergine – 1g per 100g
  • Beetroot – 2g per 100g
  • Broccoli – 3g per 100g
  • Brussel Sprouts – 3g per 100g
  • Cabbage – 1g per 100g
  • Carrot – 0.5g per 100g
  • Cauliflower – 3g per 100g
  • Celery – 0.5g per 100g
  • Chicory – 0.6g per 100g
  • Courgette – 2g per 100g
  • Cucumber – 0.5g per 100g
  • Dandelion greens, boiled with no salt – 2.10 per 105g
  • Endive – 0.63g per 50g
  • Garlic, raw – 0.19g per 3g
  • Lentils, boiled with no salt – 17.86 per 198g
  • Lettuce, raw – 0.91g per 56g
  • Mushrooms, boiled and drained with no salt – 3.39g per 156g
  • Marrow – 0.5g per 100g
  • Okra – 2.43g per 100g
  • Onion – 0.7g per 100g
  • Spring onion – 2g per 100g
  • Pumpkin, with no salt – 2.70g per 245g
  • Parsnip – 1.5g per 100g
  • Peppers, raw – 0.90g per 45g
  • Potato – 1.6g per 100g
  • Radish – 0.7g per 100g
  • Spinach – 2g per 100g
  • Swede – 0.5g per 100g
  • Sweetcorn – 2.5g per 100g
  • Squash, boiled with no salt – 1.64g per 180g
  • Sweet potato – 4.21g per 255g
  • Tomato – 2g per 100g
  • Turnip – 0.8g per 100g
  • Watercress – 3g per 100g
  • Yam – 2g per 100g


  • Apricot
  • Apples
  • Banana
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Breadfruit
  • Boysenberries
  • Cherries
  • Currants
  • Custard apples
  • Durian
  • Dates
  • Elderberries
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Guavas
  • Kumquats
  • Kiwis
  • Litchis
  • Limes
  • Loganberries
  • Lemons
  • Mangoes
  • Melon
  • Mulberries
  • Nectarines
  • Olives
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Plums
  • Pomegranates
  • Rhubarb
  • Raisins
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerine
  • Tamarind
  • Watermelon

We really hope that you have found our high protein foods list useful and that it helps ensure that you have as many high protein foods as possible in your daly diet so that your body can get all of the protein it needs to stay fit, strong and healthy.

Low Carb High Protein Foods

There are more, but here are 15 common foods that are ‘low carb high protein’ foods.

Chicken Breast – Serving size 3 oz, 30 grams of protein, 110 calories.

Lean ground Beef – Serving size 3oz, 16 grams of protein, 148 calories.

Lean Cut steak – Serving size 5oz, 29 grams of protein, 206 calories.

Lamb – Serving size 3oz, 20 grams of protein, 248 calories.

Ham – Serving size 1 medium slice, 11 grams of protein, 114 calories.

Veal – Serving size 3oz, 16 grams of protein, 96 calories.

Salmon – Serving size 4oz, 24 grams of protein, 166 calories.

Tuna – Serving size 3oz, 18 grams of protein, 105 calories.

Cod – Serving size 4oz, 24 grams of protein, 138 calories.

Hard Boiled Egg – Serving size 1 egg, 6 grams of protein, 80 calories.

Almonds – Serving size 1oz, 6 grams of protein, 164 calories.

Walnuts – Serving size 1oz, 4 grams of protein, 185 calories.

Sunflower Seeds – Serving size 1oz, 6 grams of protein, 165 calories.

Greek Yogurt – Serving size 1 cup, 24 grams of protein, 140 calories.

Flax Seeds – Serving size 2 Tablespoons, 3 grams of protein, 70 calories.


Other sources of protein besides food

As we have already mentioned, the body is not able to store protein so it is vital that you are consuming protein every single day so that your body is not left with a protein deficiency. Although protein rich foods are the best source of natural protein it is also possible to get protein from a variety of other protein sources. If you are somebody that does a lot of exercise or body building and you require more protein then some of the alternative protein sources such as protein shakes and protein bars are a brilliant way to subsidise the protein in your diet.

In addition to this when you need protein after a workout you can grab something quick and easy such as a protein drink or a protein bar. If you want more information on what to eat before and after a workout please click here. These sources of protein are mentioned below with a brief explanation alongside them:

Protein powder

Protein powder is something that has become very popular over the past few years. It is easy to make quick protein shakes to drink during the day or before and after a workout. The powder usually comes in the form of whey protein and you can buy protein powder online, or on the high street. Protein powder is usually used by body builders and athletes who require more protein in their bodies and is generally not uses as a replacement for protein rich food in your diet. If you were not to exercise a lot or use weights and still consume a lot of protein shakes then you are going to end up just putting on weight.


Protein drinks

Just like there are energy drinks such as gatorade and lucozade that are designed to help give you immediate energy, there are also protein drinks that can top up your protein levels. Again these are not meant as a replacement for food high in protein from your diet but more as a helping hand to people that work out regularly and need more protein because of this. Protein drinks are also touted to be an answer to wait loss, however this is not something that we recommend you consuming them in hope of.

Protein shakes

As we have mentioned above, protein shakes are made from protein powder and are used by people that work out regularly as their bodies need more protein to gain muscle mass. Protein powder can be bought on the internet or on the high street at a very competitive price.

Protein bars

If you are someone that is on the move a lot and does not have time to prepare food then protein bars are a quick and simple answer. You can grab a protein bar on the way to work or on the way to the gym and also have them as a healthy alternative to a snack throughout the day. Buying protein bars in bulk online can be cheaper than buying them each day or week in smaller amounts from stores on the high street.

Protein pills

You can buy protein pills online and also at your local shops, these are much the same as protein powder and are most commonly used by people that work out a lot. They contain the amino acids that are required to build muscle mass and can also be used to replace dietary protein. However, we strongly recommend that you do not use these as an alternative to foods high in protein as we cannot stress enough that they are the best source of protein for you.

We hope that the information that we have provided here on alternative sources of protein have come in handy for you, remember that most of these are used by people that work out regularly and are not meant to be a replacement for protein that can be obtained from foods rich in protein. The natural food sources of protein are the best way for your body to get the protein that it requires.