Protein Foods: Best Sources For Your Diet

Adding protein in the diet can help with muscle bulk. So, what are the best food sources?

protein rich foods on a wood chopping board

For bodybuilders or those who merely need to put on some muscle bulk, adding protein in the diet helps. Protein is an essential nutrient that is found in every tissue that makes up one’s body. So, what are the top food sources of this vital nutrient? Learn this plus tips on adding protein foods to the diet.

What Is Protein?

As mentioned, protein is found in tissues that make up one’s hair, skin, bones, and muscles. It is also found in hemoglobin which carries oxygen to the blood and in enzymes that power the body’s chemical reactions. More than 10,000 diverse proteins make up an individual.

what is protein

Recommended Daily Allowance

According to the recommendation of the National Academy of Medicine, one’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein varies per body weight. An adult should get at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of one’s weight daily.

  • An individual weighing 140 pounds requires at least 50 grams of protein daily.
  • An individual weighing 200 pounds needs at least 70 grams of protein daily.

Furthermore, the National Academy of Medicine adds that adequate protein intake is approximately 10 to 35 percent of calories in a day.

Food Sources

It is highly advisable that one gets the protein their body needs from plant sources. These include legumes, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. Other sources include seafood and lean beef. Here are some of the healthy protein foods to include in one’s diet.

  • Cheese, Yogurt, and Milk: Apart from containing protein, these food sources are rich in calcium and vitamin D which are also essential to one’s health.
  • Eggs: The American Heart Association recommends one egg a day.
  • Legumes: Soybeans, peanuts, peas, beans, and lentils are excellent sources of protein.
  • Lean Beef: Aside from its protein content, lean beef is also rich in vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.
  • Nuts and Seeds: These include chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin and squash seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, and almonds.
  • Seafood: Salmon is an excellent source of protein and omega-3-fatty acids that are great for the heart, too.
  • White-Meat Poultry: For lean protein, white-meat poultry is a great source.
  • Whole Grains: Buckwheat, oats, rice, quinoa, and wheat.

Tips for Adding Protein Foods to the Diet

  1. Opt for lean meat. Also, go for skinless poultry where fat has been trimmed off.
  2. Add seafood, especially fish, in the diet. Consume this two to three times a week.
  3. Avoid meat that has been processed such as salami or sausage.
  4. Add at least 30 grams of nuts to the diet each day. It can be added to one’s cereal or a stir-fried rice. One can also consume nuts as is.
  5. Add extra flavor and texture to salads, meat sauces, casseroles, or soups with legumes.
  6. Add a hardboiled egg to one’s lunch each day.

Best Sources of Protein

Here a list of protein-rich foods:


Eggs not only contains the wealthiest amount of protein, but it also contains branched-chain amino acids essential for the body. One large egg carries approximately 6 grams of protein. Opt for eggs that have been fortified with omega-3-fatty acids for that added boost of nutrients.

Greek Yogurt

This type of yogurt contains more protein in comparison to the other varieties of yogurt. Aside from its protein content, yogurt is rich in probiotic bacteria and calcium. Every 8-ounce serving contains 23 grams of protein.

Cottage Cheese

For those craving for a snack in between meals, go for cottage cheese. It is rich in a slow-digesting protein called casein. It also works as a late-night snack to prevent the food cravings from kicking in at midnight. A half-cup serving of cottage cheese contains 14 grams of protein.

Swiss Cheese

Another cheese that provides twice the amount of protein compared to other commercial cheeses is Swiss cheese. It is also rich in calcium. Every single serving (1 oz.) contains at least 8 grams of protein.

Yellowfin Tuna

Seafood is the healthiest source of protein. Every 3 ounce serving of yellowfin tuna offers 25 grams of protein.


For muscle buildup, the protein in halibut is an excellent source. Opt for the Pacific version. Each 3-ounce serving contains 23 grams of protein.


For every 3 ounce serving, this cephalopod offers 25 grams of protein. It is a top choice of protein for individuals who want granite-dense muscles.


Every seven calories of a lean cut bottom or top round steak offer 1 gram of protein. Whether it is ribeye or round steak, every 3-ounce serving provides 23 grams of protein.

Ground Beef

Beef, specifically that which has been grass-fed, is an excellent source of protein and contains less fat than factory-farm beef. Every 3-ounce serving contains 18 grams of protein.

Boneless and Skinless Chicken Breast

This is a protein food staple for weight loss and bodybuilding. For every 3 ounce serving, it contains 24 grams of protein.

Navy Beans

For vegans looking for a protein that is not found in meat, beans are a great option. It is also packed with fiber. Every cup offers 20 grams of protein.

Dried Lentils

Other than fiber and proteins, dried lentils offer numerous minerals vital for one’s body. Every one-fourth cup provides 13 grams of protein.

Peanut Butter

Natural peanut butter that does not contain sugar is the best option. For every two tablespoons, it offers 8 grams of protein.

Mixed Nuts

Apart from the protein content, nuts like almonds, cashews, and peanuts contain healthy unsaturated fat. It also keeps one feeling full and keeps the food cravings at bay. Every 2-ounce serving contains 6 grams of protein.

Soba Noodles

Skip the usual pasta and try buckwheat noodles, Japanese-style. This is an excellent source of protein compared to wheat-based noodles. For every 3 ounce serving, it offers 12 grams of protein


This whole grain comprises all the nine vital amino acids needed for muscle development and growth. The nine amino acids are valine, tryptophan, threonine, phenylalanine, methionine, lysine, leucine, isoleucine, and histidine. Every cup offers 8 grams of protein

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