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15 Foods High in Protein for Muscle Building & Energy

Saturday, 9 July 2016  |  David Watkins

Here is a list of different foods that are among the 15 top sources of protein. For bodybuilders and athletes the ratios of protein given here are vital information to help them increase muscle mass because protein is an integral part of that process. There are a number of animal based foods on the list but there are also nuts, eggs and seafood, so there will always be plenty of options for a varied and creative diet whilst still maintaining a good protein intake. For serious muscle building, many of the foods on the list can be combined for a super high protein diet.

Additionally the average Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) or Daily Value (DV) of protein supplied by each food is shown.

The wide variety of foods on this list will enable anyone wishing to increase their protein intake to do so with an enjoyably tasty and varied diet.

1. Chicken Breast Average 60% RDA/DV

Cooked chicken breast gives you about 30 grams of protein per 100 grams and is top of the food list for many bodybuilders looking to improve their muscle power.

The protein and essential mineral content in chicken breast is superior to most other chicken cuts such as leg or thigh which can contain significantly more fat. This is why chicken breast is a favourite in a lot of weight management programs.

Cooked chicken breast are universally popular and there are a myriad of different ways to serve them with simple, easy recipes all over the internet, so they can always be included in a high protein diet without getting boring.

2. Pork Chops Average 54% RDA/DV

Cooked pork chops are a close second to chicken breast with about 27 grams of protein per 100 grams. They would, perhaps, more often be the first choice of meat except for their tendency to have slightly more fat content than chicken breasts.

Although the fat content of a pork chop is generally very low, other pork cuts such as ham and bacon leave people with the mistaken impression that all pork is fatty. This tends to unfairly relegate them below many lesser chicken and beef options but as long as you choose your pork chops with care and get the ones with the least amount of visible fat, you will get a good regular source of valuable protein.

There are probably less ways to serve pork chops than chicken breast but a quick trip around the internet will offer plenty of options of different ways to serve them and still retain the high protein content.

3. Ground Beef (aka Minced Beef) Average 52% RDA/DV

Cooked ground beef gives you 26 grams of protein per 100 grams and is very close behind pork chops. Also referred to as minced beef, this is an extremely versatile food that offers numerous very different serving options.

It will also give you a good source of iron and B vitamins, contributing significantly to those daily requirements as well as providing a very useful amount of protein.

Always choose a high quality minced beef to ensure a minimum of oiliness when cooking. Organic types can also contribute to better quality. These factors will ensure a lighter and more palatable taste in the final cooked dish, whether its chill con carne, tacos or any one of the numerous other tasty and often traditional options available.

4. Swiss Cheese Average 50% RDA/DV

Swiss cheese is out in front of most other cheeses with 25 grams of protein per 100 grams. The downside here is that 100 grams of cheese is probably more than you will want to eat in one go!

Instead of eating plain cheese, you can use it as a versatile topping on cooked dishes such as chilli con carne or pizza. Using it on a pizza can be particularly beneficial if other protein rich toppings such a ground beef are included.

There are other cheese such as mozzarella that are also high in protein and additionally along with Swiss cheese, they all provide a very valuable source of calcium.

5. Lamb Loin Average 50% RDA/DV

This underrated food also provides about 25 grams of protein per 100 grams and is only second to Swiss Cheese because it is considered to be a more fatty food.

As with any meat, choosing carefully and ensuring good quality will reduce any fat content and offer a tasty alternative to more traditional meats. Lamb also contains iron which is vital to the optimum functioning of the human body and is easily absorbed.

Although there are a limited number of ways to serve lamb loin when compared to more common meats such as beef or chicken, its significant protein contribution makes it well worth while including in a protein rich diet.

6. Salmon Average 48% RDA/DV

Just behind the previous two foods with 24 grams of protein per 100 grams, salmon also contains Omega-3, making it healthy as well as providing protein benefits.

Omega-3 provides significant benefits to the brain and the heart and as these are your two most vital organs, adding salmon to your diet is a good idea even if you are not looking for the direct benefits of additional protein.

Although usually more expensive for good cuts, salmon makes a welcome change from red meat and chicken and can easily be served in a variety of ways from salmon fillets to salmon fishcakes.

7. Ham Average 46% RDA/DV

Cooked Ham contains 23 grams of protein per 100 grams putting it only just behind the previous three foods. It also has additional health benefits with high levels of niacin, thiamin and riboflavin.

The fat content of ham is unavoidably higher than most other meat sources on this list, so it might not be top of your list if your on a weight management diet.

Due to its inherent fat content, it is probably best to limit intake of the meat on its own and use it in conjunction with other options such as sandwiches and soups. Cold cooked ham cut into cubes can also be added to healthy salads.

8. Black Beans Average 44% RDA/DV

Black beans provide a very respectable 23 grams of protein per 100 grams and are the first vegetable on this list.

Lots of other types of beans also provide useful amounts of protein and almost all beans, including black beans, provide an excellent source of fibre, which can be missing from some other high protein foods.

There are lots of culinary ways to use black beans including as a side vegetable to a meat dish such as chicken to boost protein intake. They can also be added to soups and used as an addition or alternative to kidney beans in chilli con carne.

9. Almonds Average 42% RDA/DV

Almonds provide 21 grams of protein per 100 grams but that’s quite a lot of nuts, and as they also contain fat, they will probably only form a small part of your protein diet.

Almost all nuts contain varying amounts of protein along with fibre and fats, most of which are healthy types but almonds are top of the list of nuts for protein.

Eating almonds as a raw snack is an easy way to get their protein but they can also be sliced or crushed and used in cooking. They are traditionally used in many delicious Indian dishes, some of which will contain chicken breast, so they are a great way to add to your protein intake.

10. Pumpkin Seeds Average 38% RDA/DV

Dried pumpkin seeds provide 19 grams of protein per 100 grams and high levels of vital minerals, particularly zinc and magnesium.

Zinc contains tryptophan, an important amino acid that is not naturally produced by the human body but is necessary to produce serotonin, which can help with healthy sleep and a stable mood.

Pumpkin seeds from any variety of pumpkin are a handy snack on the go but can also be included either raw or roasted in a wide variety of cooked dishes and salads.

11. Eggs Average 26% RDA/DV

Cooked eggs provide 13 grams of protein per 100 grams plus lots of important vitamins and minerals.

They can be eaten in a wide variety of ways, either whole or separated depending on your nutrient requirements. Both yoke and white contain similar amounts of protein but yolk also contains fat which some may wish to exclude from a low fat diet.

Eggs are very versatile and can be eaten on their own in a number of traditional ways or included as part of a larger protein rich dish such as ham and eggs with Swiss cheese.

12. Cottage Cheese Average 22% RDA/DV

Either full fat or low fat cottage cheese provides 11 grams of protein per 100 grams as well as vitamin B12 and calcium.

Low fat or non-fat varieties are usually preferred because the normal fat varieties have saturated fats which are not ideal. Low or non-fat cottage cheese still provides all the protein with a lot less calories.

Cottage cheese can be eaten on it own or included in pasta dishes and salads.

13. Greek Yogurt Average 20% RDA/DV

Greek Yogurt provides 10 grams of protein per 100 grams and contains casein protein as opposed to whey protein because the whey has been strained out of it.

The straining process makes it a thicker consistency than regular yogurt and provides a good source of beneficial probiotic bacteria but be careful to avoid brands with too much added sugar.

Greek yogurt is a favourite at breakfast time when it can be eaten with fresh fruit or included with cereals or muesli.

14. Oysters Average 18% RDA/DV
Raw or cooked oysters provide 9 grams of protein per 100 grams and three of them can provide your daily requirement of vitamin B12 to help give you plenty of energy.

There is now some viable scientific data to link oysters with their traditional use as an aphrodisiac due to the presence of specific amino acids connected to sex hormones.

Apart from eating larger oysters raw from the half shell with lemon, smaller ones can also be cooked in a number of ways to make them more palatable for those who want the health benefits but are not keen on the taste of raw ones.

15. Tofu Average 16% RDA/DV
Derived from soybeans, tofu provides 8 grams of protein per 100 grams. It has been widely available for many years and is most often used as a substitute for meat, either by vegetarians or non-vegetarians looking to cut down the amount of meat in their diet. It also provides a very useful amount of calcium.

Whilst being a lot lower in protein than meat, tofu can still be used by bodybuilders who are building muscle who want some non-meat variety in their protein diet.

There are a lot of different texture of tofu available making it extremely versatile and enabling endless creativity for dishes where it is included as a meat substitute.