36 High Protein Foods: Animal & Plant Based

Clinical review: Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
March 2022

Food that is animal-based, like meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt. will be higher in protein in comparison to plant-based food. In addition to having higher protein content, the type of protein found in animal-based food is also of high biological value, as these proteins are better quality, and so are more readily available to be absorbed by the body.  

Plant-based food that contains high protein content are legumes, like peas, soy, and grains. Legumes have good quantities of protein, and therefore they can be used in a balanced diet to promote good functioning throughout the body. These foods are staples in vegetarian and vegan diets. 

Protein is essential for many mechanisms within the body, such as cellular growth, repair, and maintenance of muscles, tissues, and organs, as well as hormone production.

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1. Protein from animal sources

The following table indicates the quantity of protein per 100 grams of the listed food:

Food

Protein per 100 g

Calories per 100g

Chicken

32.8 g

148 cal

Beef

26.4 g

163 cal

Pork (loin)

22.2 g

131 cal

Duck

19.3 g

133 cal

Quail

22.1 g

119 cal

Rabbit

20.3 g

117 cal

Cheese 

26 g

316 cal

Skinless salmon, fresh and raw 

19.3 g

170 cal

Fresh tuna

25.7 g

118 cal

Raw salted cod

29 g

136 cal

Fish (all types)

19.2 g

109 cal

Eggs

13 g

149 cal

Yogurt

4.1 g

54 cal

Milk

3.3 g

47 cal

Kefir

5.5 g

44 cal

Shrimp

17.6 g

77 cal

Cooked crab

18.5 g

83 cal

Mussels

24 g

172 cal

Ham

25 g

215 cal

Protein intake after physical activity is important as it helps to prevent lesions and helps muscle recovery and growth.

2. Plant-based protein

It is especially important to incorporate high-protein vegetables into vegetarian diets in order to ensure the adequate intake of amino acids. This helps to maintain muscle, cell, and hormone production. Check-out the following table to see which plant-based food sources contain high amounts of protein: 

Foods

Protein per 100 g

Calories per 100g

Soy

12.5 g

140 cal

Quinoa

12.0 g

335 cal

Buckwheat

11.0 g

366 cal

Millet seeds

11.8 g

360 cal

Lentils

9.1 g

108 cal

Tofu

8.5 g

76 cal

Beans

6.6 g

91 cal

Peas

6.2 g

63 cal

Cooked rice

2.5 g

127 cal

Flaxseeds

14.1 g

495 cal

Sesame seeds

21.2 g

584 cal

Chickpeas

21.2 g

355 cal

Peanuts

25.4 g

589 cal

Walnuts

16.7 g

699 cal

Hazelnuts

14 g

689 cal

Almonds

21.6 g

643 cal

Brazil nuts

14.5 g

643 cal

How to promote absorption of plant-based protein

For those on a vegetarian or vegan diet, in order to ensure adequate intake of high-quality protein, high-protein plant sources should be combined with foods that promote absorption of protein in the digestive system. Some examples of food combinations are:

  • Rice and beans (any type)
  • Peas and corn seeds
  • Lentils and buckwheat
  • Quinoa and corn
  • Brown rice and red beans

These food combinations and a varied diet are important to maintain the body’s growth and proper functioning in those who do not ingest animal protein. In the case of lacto-ovo vegetarians, their diets can additionally include protein that comes from eggs, milk, and other dairy products.

Achieving a high-protein diet

When attempting to consume a high-protein diet, you are advised ot have 1.1 to 1.5 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day. The exact quantity that needs to consumed should be calculated by a registered dietitian, as recommended protein amounts will vary from person to person. Your adequate amount depends on your age, gender, physical activity, health history and your current health status.

This diet is advised for weight loss and muscle gain, and can especially be effective when combined with exercises that promote muscle hypertrophy. 

Are there foods that are rich in protein but low in fat?

All plant-based foods (except for nuts) mentioned in the table above are rich in protein and low in fat. On the other hand, animal-based foods that are low in fat and rich in protein can include low-fat meat like chicken breast (skinless), egg whites, and low-fat fish, like cod fish.

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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in March 2022. Clinical review completed by Tatiana Zanin - Registered Dietitian in March 2022.

References

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  • MAHAN, Kathleen L.; RAYMOND, Janice L. Krause: Alimentos, nutrição e dietoterapia. 14.ed. Rio de Janeiro: Elsevier, 2018. 1055.
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Clinical review:
Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
Graduated in Clinical Nutrition in 2001 and has a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Licensed to practice under the CRN-3 in Brazil and the ON in Portugal