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High Protein Foods List Printable (72 Best Foods) 

Consistently meeting your protein needs can be challenging, but this high-protein foods list printable can help you reach your goals in no time! 

Protein is a must in your diet! It helps with recovery after a hard workout, aids in building muscle, strengthens your immune system, and much more.

Keep reading to learn the importance of protein and see if you are eating enough! Then, download our free printable high-protein foods list before your next grocery store run.

We’ll review an athlete’s specific protein needs, explore various options for protein sources, and share some tips to increase protein intake. Lastly, we will give easy, actionable tips to increase the protein in your diet today to prevent injury and promote longevity in sport!

Plus grab our FREEBIES High Protein Foods List Printable and Protein Playbook: A Guide To Fueling Athletes 100g-150g Protein Per Day to help level up your protein intake!

High protein foods list printable pictured are high protein foods on a table such as beans, salmon, steak, and peas.

“High Protein Foods List Printable” is written by Brittany Ghosn and medically reviewed by Katie Schimmelpfenning, RD. 

What is Protein?

Protein is a large molecule found in living cells. The building blocks of protein are called amino acids. Some amino acids are essential, and others are nonessential. 

While the human body can build nonessential amino acids, it cannot produce essential amino acids, so we must obtain them from our food.

A complete protein, also called a high-quality protein, contains all amino acids, while an incomplete protein lacks one of the nine essential amino acids. 

Animal-based proteins, like meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy products, are often good sources of complete proteins, while plant-based proteins tend to lack one or more essential amino acids (1). 

Why do we need it?

Most of us know that protein is essential for building muscle, but you may not know that protein has many vital roles. Protein is important for:

  • Cell growth and repair – protein helps maintain healthy hair, skin, nails, and DNA.
  • Immune function – our antibodies are made up of proteins, and not eating enough can increase your risk for infection, muscle wasting, and fractures (2).
  • Hydration – proteins help regulate fluid balance by keeping water in our blood.
  • Metabolism – the enzymes that break down food into usable nutrients are proteins
  • Muscle development – training and competition often result in micro-tears, and dietary protein helps rebuild muscle (3).

Protein and appetite regulation 

An eating pattern that consistently contains enough protein is critical for controlling appetite (4).

The best way to feel satisfied after a meal is to consume a balance of all three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat, and protein at each meal.

Meals and snacks that are carbohydrate-rich and low in protein and fats are perfect for fueling yourself before and during a workout because they boost your blood sugars quickly and provide energy for training.

However, eating foods with little protein is not the optimal choice throughout the day because you will be left feeling hungry. Consuming 20-40g of protein at each meal and snack will help regulate your appetite and keep you satiated.

Protein requirements

Because our bodies don’t have a true storage site for protein, we must eat enough protein regularly. Inadequate protein intake means that your body will start taking away from other functions like immunity or muscle repair to make ends meet.

How do you calculate your protein needs? 

What amount of protein is enough? With so many functions in our body, consuming the right quantity is crucial. 

The recommended daily amount depends on age, weight, and physical activity. Check out our Protein Calculator for Athletes to determine our dial protein needs.

  • Youth athletes <18 should aim for 1.2-1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (5). 
  • The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends 1.4-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for adult athletes (6).
  • Older adult athletes should aim for a minimum of 1-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (7).

We recommend that most athletes aim for 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. We recommend meeting with a Registered Sports Dietitian for protein recommendations tailored to your needs. 

What does enough protein look like?

One serving of protein is about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand.

Pictured is a photo that says a 3oz serving of protein is ~the size of a deck of card, pictured is a deck of playing cards.

An active 150lb individual should aim for at least 100 grams of protein daily!

Grab our Protein Playbook: A Guide To Fueling Athletes 100g-150g Protein Per Day and our 7-Day High Protein Meal Plan For Swimmers

Protein timing

Should you eat all of your protein in one serving or spread it out? For optimal composition and performance, you should spread your protein intake out over the day (8).

  • Aim for 20-40 g of protein every 4 hours to enhance muscle protein synthesis.
  • Make sure to eat protein within 2 hours after exercising to optimize recovery and repair.
  • Try a serving of casein protein before bedtime to increase muscle protein synthesis without influencing fat burning. 

High protein foods

It may feel like a struggle to eat enough protein to build and maintain muscle. Our high protein foods list printable and tips below will help you reach your protein intake goal!

Printable high protein foods list 

Before we dive into the high protein foods list by food group, check out this Printable High Protein Food List! Here you’ll find 72 high-protein foods in a printable PDF format to take to the grocery store.

Meats high in protein 

Meats are a natural source of protein. Lean meats, like lean beef and lean pork, will have less saturated fat and, therefore, fewer calories per serving than other options. Meats are also a great source of iron, which is essential for athletic performance and immune function. 

Pictured are high protein meats and their protein content per 3oz serving: top sirloin steak 23 g protein, chicken breast 26 g protein, turkey sausage 15g protein, canned chicken 21 g protein, turkey deli meat 20 g protein, pork chops 26 g protein

Meat can also be a great source of B vitamins, and zinc, and it can be sourced sustainably for those conscious of the environment. 

Try to limit red meat to three servings per week and opt for lean meat options to lower your risk for heart disease (9).

SourceServingGrams of Protein (g)Calories (kcals)g protein/kcal
Chicken breast, boneless skinless3 oz261400.19
Chicken, canned drained3 oz211400.15
Chicken thigh, boneless skinless3 oz211800.12
Chicken, rotisserie3 oz201700.12
Chicken thigh, skin on3 oz212100.10
Turkey, deli meat3 oz20600.33
Turkey breast3 oz241350.18
Turkey, ground lean3 oz221200.18
Turkey sausage3 oz151700.09
Turkey bacon3 oz121500.08
Beef, flank steak raw3 oz201600.13
Beef, ground 90/10 lean3 oz221850.12
Beef, top sirloin3 oz232100.11
Pork tenderloin, raw3 oz241200.20
Pork chops, cooked3 oz261600.16
Ham, deli meat3 oz151100.14
Pork, ground3 oz222200.10
Pork sausage3 oz152700.06
Lamb3 oz232500.09

(Source: USDA Food Data, protein content may vary.)

Seafood high in protein 

Seafood and shellfish have high amounts of dietary protein. Not only are they packed with protein, but fatty fish, like salmon, have healthy fats known as essential fatty acids that provide great health benefits. 

Pictured are seafoods high in protein with protein content per each 3oz. Crab ~18 g protein, clams 26 g protein, salmon 22g protein, tuna 25 g protein, shrimp 18 g protein, cod 19 g protein
SourceServingGrams ofProtein (g)Calories(kcals)g protein/kcal
Crab3 oz18800.23
Cod3 oz19900.21
Tilapia3 oz211000.21
Bass3 oz211000.21
Marlin3 oz211000.21
Yellowtail3 oz231100.21
Tuna, steak3 oz251200.21
Tuna, canned in water3 oz201000.20
Mahi mahi3 oz201000.20
Scallops3 oz201000.20
Shrimp3 oz18900.20
Oysters3 oz16800.20
Conch3 oz201000.20
Cat Fish3 oz201050.19
Lobster3 oz16900.18
Trout3 oz211200.18
Clams3 oz261500.17
Mussels3 oz241400.17
Squid3 oz13800.16
Halibut3 oz221400.16
Salmon3 oz221550.14
Octopus3 oz191400.14
Eel3 oz192000.10

(Source: USDA Food Data, protein content may vary.)

High Protein Dairy and Eggs

Dairy products and eggs are good sources of protein. Making a protein shake with dairy milk is a fast and easy way to get protein and carbohydrates for recovery after a workout. Check out the list below for high-protein dairy foods.

Pictured are dairy foods high in protein, we also included eggs on thsi photo. Pictured is cottage cheese 27 g protein/cup, whey protein 25 g protein per scoop, milk 8g protein per cup, ricotta cheese 14 g protein per cup, egg whites 26 g protein per cup, greek yogurt 20 g protein per cup.
SourceServingGrams of Protein (g)Calories(kcals)g protein/kcal
Egg whites1 cup261200.22
Whey protein powder1 scoop251200.21
Casein protein powder1 scoop251200.21
Greek yogurt1 cup201200.17
Cottage cheese1 cup272100.13
Milk, skim1 cup8800.10
Whole egg1 large egg7700.10
Mozzarella cheese1 oz7750.09
Parmesan cheese1 oz101100.09
Ricotta cheese, low-fat1/2 cup141700.08
Swiss cheese1 oz81100.07
Yogurt1 cup101600.06

(Source: USDA Food Data, protein content may vary.)

High Protein Plant-Based Foods

High-protein foods are not limited to animal products. Plant-based protein is rich in foods like beans, seeds, whole grains, and nut butters. 

Pictured are high protein plant based foods with how much protein per cup. Chickpeas 15g protein, tofu 20 g protein, lentils 18 g protein, lima beans 15 g protein, edamame 17 g protein, black beans 16 g protein

Following a plant-based diet and hitting your daily protein goal is possible with some planning. Check out this list of high-protein plant-based foods.

SourceServingGrams of Protein (g)Calories(kcals)g protein/kcal
Soy protein powder1 scoop251200.21
Pea protein isolate1 scoop251200.21
Green peas1 cup, cooked8620.13
Tofu1/2 cup10940.11
Tempeh1 cup, cooked313200.10
Edamame1 cup, cooked171900.09
Lentils1 cup, cooked182300.08
Lima beans1 cup, cooked152090.07
Kidney beans1 cup, cooked152250.07
Black beans1 cup, cooked152270.07
Hemp seeds1 oz101600.06
Pinto beans1 cup, cooked152450.06
Pumpkin seeds1 oz91600.06
Chickpeas1 cup, cooked152700.06
Peanut butter2 Tbsp81800.04
Quinoa1 cup, cooked82220.04
Sunflower seeds1 oz51600.03
Chia seeds1 oz41380.03

(Source: USDA Food Data, protein content may vary.)

Keep in mind that the actual nutritional content may vary based on specific brands and preparations. Always check the nutrition labels for accurate information. 

Protein Tips from a Registered Dietitian

Getting enough protein can be tricky. Try these 10 simple tips from a Registered Dietitian to boost your protein intake:

  1. Print our  High Protein Foods List Guide and highlight protein options for your grocery list.
  2. Aim for portion sizes that include 30 grams of protein per meal.
  3. Focus on a high-protein breakfast so you’re not playing catch-up later in the day.
  4. Pair different protein foods together. Try Greek yogurt with hemp seeds or tuna with edamame. This will help you get important nutrients.
  5. Prep proteins in advance. Grill enough chicken for three days instead of just one meal.
  6. Eat a variety of protein foods so you don’t get bored.
  7. Stock up with on-the-go high-protein snacks like Greek yogurt cups, beef jerky, and roasted chickpeas. 
  8. Cook with high-protein bone broth instead of water when preparing grains and soups.
  9. Opt for high-protein carbohydrate choices like beans and lentils.
  10. Keep a shaker bottle handy with your favorite protein powder. Not sure what to buy? Check out the Best Protein Powder For Swimmers.

Final Thoughts: Power Up With Protein 

Protein is essential for a healthy diet, and needs vary depending on several factors. While the dietary guidelines recommend 0.8 g/kg of protein for healthy adults, active people and older adults need much more. 

Find out how much protein you need as an athlete with our Protein Calculator.

General foods that provide protein are meats, seafood, dairy, eggs, beans, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. Most people can hit their daily protein goal with whole foods alone, and things like protein chips and cookies are not necessary.

Download this [Printable High-Protein Foods List] for the 72 best sources of protein from whole foods.

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