HomeHealth articlesprotein rich foodsProtein Rich Foods and Supplements

This article will cover the details about different protein foods-their sources, requirements, protein content, and healthy intake of proteins.

Written by

Dr. Zeba Jabeen

Medically reviewed by

Quadros Krystel Godfrey Lavina

Published At April 28, 2022
Reviewed AtApril 18, 2023

What Is Protein?

Protein is one of the five important nutrients needed by the body. Protein makes up for a variety of tissues in the body like muscles, bone, skin, hair, etc. It is also a part of hemoglobin, many enzymes, and hormones. The amino acids are structural components of protein, and they can also be used as an energy provider. The essential amino acids are derived from the diet, so it is imperative to know their sources in detail and in what amount they should be consumed.

How Much Protein Should Be Consumed?

According to the National Academy of Medicine, an adult should consume at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. They have also suggested a normal range of protein intake as 10 % to 35 % of calories per day.

What Are the Different Protein Foods?

Protein is found in an abundance of food products, but other nutrients are also present along with it, like saturated fats or sodium, which might be unhealthy to eat. Due to this, choosing the right protein source and including it in the diet is of great concern. The different protein foods are as follows:

1. Plant-Based Protein Foods: They are foods of plant origin, and besides protein, they also contain fiber and healthy fats. However, they differ in their fat and carbohydrate content. The various plant-based protein foods are:

  • Legumes: Beans like kidney beans, chickpeas, peas in distinct forms, lentils (brown, green, or yellow), soybeans and soy products, peanuts, etc. Lentils carry 9 grams and green peas carry 5.4 grams of protein per 100 grams of the product.

  • Nuts and Their Spreads: Nuts such as cashews, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, etc. Nut spreads, for instance, peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, etc. Peanut butter contains 24.1 grams of protein per 100 grams of foodstuff.

  • Seeds: Seeds, for example, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc. Pumpkin seeds hold 29.8 grams of protein per 100 grams of the item.

  • Whole Grains: They include quinoa, oats, rice, wheat, millet, buckwheat, etc. Quinoa has 4.4 grams of protein per 100 grams of serving.

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Though the protein content in fruits and vegetables is relatively low yet, some of the higher protein sources are broccoli, corn, asparagus, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, etc. Mushrooms carry 3.6 grams of protein per 100 grams of serving.

2. Animal-Based Protein Foods: They are acquired from various animals and their products. They need to be carefully inquired about their different contents, to get a healthy intake. The different animal-based protein foods are:

  • Marine and Seafood: Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids like herring, sardines, salmon, and tuna should be consumed at least twice a week. Other fish are also protein sources, such as catfish, cod, haddock, etc. Crabs, lobsters, oysters, etc., also provide protein.

  • Poultry: Chicken, turkey, and duck are preferable without skin to avoid saturated fats and cholesterol intake; and other dairy products such as eggs, yogurt, milk, and cheese. Milk and cheese should be taken in small quantities, and eggs and yogurt are comparatively healthier choices. Eggs contain 12.6 grams, and low-fat yogurt has 5.7 grams of protein per 100 grams of serving.

  • Red Meat: It has abundant proteins, but its consumption should be limited as it contains a high amount of saturated fats. It includes unprocessed beef, lamb, veal, pork, mutton, and goat meat. It can be enjoyed in small quantities, or occasionally.

  • Processed Meats: Those meats that are salted, cured, fermented, smoked, or have undergone other processes to improve their flavor and increase their shelf life are called processed meats. They are higher in saturated fats and sodium. They comprise bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausages, etc.

What Is a Protein Package?

The protein package refers to all the nutrients found in a protein-rich food item and consumed along with it. It is not the sole protein in food that is taken; rather, it comes as a whole package. Besides protein, the protein package may contain fiber, sodium, various fats, carbohydrates, etc. Different protein packages influence health in different ways. Some instances of protein packages are:

  • There are approximately 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber in a cup of lentils. It is devoid of saturated fats and sodium as well.

  • Four ounces of red meat (sirloin steak) has plenty of protein, 33 grams approximately. But, it is also a rich source of saturated fat, about five grams.

What Are Protein Supplements?

Protein supplements are artificially manufactured supplements of protein that come in forms like shakes, powders, etc. They are usually not needed by individuals to maintain good health and are needed only under special circumstances. The body's protein requirement can be easily fulfilled by consuming a protein-rich diet as part of a balanced diet. If a healthy person takes excess protein, it is either excreted from the body or leads to weight gain. In addition, an extra protein intake poses a load on the liver and the kidneys. Protein supplements, mainly protein powders, have not been considered safe by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

When Are Protein Supplements Required by the Body?

Protein supplements are recommended for people with protein deficiency, especially older people or people suffering from some eating disorder. In old age, the loss of muscle mass occurs gradually; due to illnesses, inadequate diet, and fewer physical activities, which is called sarcopenia. Therefore, an optimal protein intake at this age is vital for basic activities like walking, and it also decreases the chances of falling injuries. So, older adults must have an adequate protein intake, and for that, protein supplements are recommended.

It is advised to have a good quality protein like yogurt or milk with a carbohydrate feed after intense training or workout. This combination helps in maintaining protein balance in the body. This is beneficial even after mild physical activities like walking, particularly for older individuals. Protein supplements are also taken by those youngsters who wish to build up extra muscle mass. However, it is not the protein that adds bulk to the muscles; instead, the exercise stimulates muscle tissue, causing muscle growth. Studies have also claimed that the weight trainers who take protein supplements and those who do not use them build their muscle mass at the same rate.


Protein is an inseparable part of a balanced diet and is required in an optimal quantity throughout an individual's life. Its necessity can be nimbly fulfilled in healthy folks; and in deficient people, supplements can be taken. But, its sources should be selected after obtaining their complete information to prevent the intake of unhealthy nutrients. Its overall consumption should also be monitored regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Foods Contain High Amounts of Protein and Low Carbohydrates?

Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are essential macronutrients. A diet rich in protein and low in carbohydrates can have several health benefits. These benefits include weight loss, maintaining blood sugar levels and bone health, etc. Foods that contain high protein and low carbohydrates are:
- Eggs.
- Meat.
- Poultry.
- Seafood.
- Dairy products like cheese.
- Nuts.
- Seeds (flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.).
- Vegetables that are low in starch.


What Are the Best Breakfast Foods High in Protein?

Eating a protein-rich diet can have several health benefits as breakfast is an important meal of the day. Consuming those extra calories in the morning can give extra energy that is needed throughout the day. Breakfast foods high in protein include:
- A smoothie containing nuts, fruits, Greek yogurt, seeds, etc.
- Egg scramble or other egg dishes.
- Quinoa salad.
- Salmon wraps or sandwiches.
- Sweet potatoes.
- Spinach salad or wraps.
- Chickpea pancakes.


What Foods Naturally Contain High-Quality Protein?

Protein is an important nutrient for the body to maintain its function. Protein sources are available naturally, and they can be beneficial. It is essential to get enough protein every day; the foods that contain high-quality protein include -
- Meat: Beef, pork, lamb, etc.
- Poultry meat: Turkey, duck, goose, chicken.
- Seafood: Prawns, fish, lobsters, crab, oysters.
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews.
- Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.
- Legumes: Lentils, split peas, chickpeas, tofu.
- Beans: All beans.


Which Foods Have High Fiber and Protein Content?

Fibers and proteins are essential nutrients needed for maintaining the functions of the body. By consuming certain foods, the daily dose of carbohydrates (starch) and proteins can be met. Examples of foods with high fiber content and protein include:
- Lentils.
- Quinoa.
- Chickpeas.
- Kidney beans.
- Oats.
- Almonds.
- Chia seeds.
- Sweet potatoes.


What Fruits Contain the Most Protein?

Fruits are not usually consumed as a protein source, although they can provide protein, vitamins, and other nutrients. Fruits contain fewer proteins than vegetables, nuts, and legumes. However, certain fruits contain high-protein, and these include:
- Guava.
- Avocados.
- Apricots.
- Bananas.
- Oranges.
- Kiwi.
- Raspberries and blueberries.
- Jackfruit.
- Cherries.


What Is the Recommended Daily Amount of Protein?

The daily protein intake should account for 10 to 35 % of the total calories. For example, if your body requires 1500 calories a day, consume enough protein to provide 150 to 420 calories. The average protein requirement for an adult with a sedentary lifestyle is 0.8 g of protein per one kg of body weight. For example, a person weighing 50 kg requires 40 g of protein per day. As the person grows old, this requirement increases from 1 g to 1.3 g per kilogram of body weight. Additionally, regularly working out requires 1 g to 1.5 g of protein per kilogram of body weight.


How Much Protein Does a Potato Contain?

Potatoes are often mistaken for bad nutritional qualities. Although they contain high amounts of carbohydrates, they are loaded with vitamins, fiber, potassium, proteins, etc. However, potatoes cannot be consumed as a single source of protein. It is always better to add another source of protein to compensate. Besides fiber (2 g) and potassium (271 mg), a medium white potato contains two grams of protein.


Are Sweet Potatoes a Good Source of Protein?

Sweet potatoes are typically regarded as the most nutritious of all potatoes. Despite containing only a little over two grams of protein per medium sweet potato serving, sweet potato contains many other essential nutrients. Additionally, sweet potatoes are high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber and contain choline, which reduces inflammation, and beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in the body.


Which Protein-Rich Foods Are Good for Weight Loss?

Weight loss can be tricky as it requires the person to balance food consumption and calorie requirements. A high-protein diet is helpful as it fills and provides enough calories to survive the day. The best protein source for weight loss and muscle gain include:
- Eggs.
- Nuts.
- Meat.
- Poultry.
- Legumes.
- Low-fat dairy products.
- Seafood.


What Is the Best Way to Increase Protein Without Gaining Fat?

Some of the ways to increase protein intake without getting fat are:
- Make dairy products part of your diet by choosing low-fat or nonfat varieties.
- Your carbohydrate choice should be high-protein grains.
- Consider drinking a protein shake for your meal.
- Chicken or fish are better options than red meat with high-fat content.
If you are cooking fish or chicken, remove the skin.
- Make your meals more nutritious by adding beans and legumes.
- Replace traditional peanut butter with powdered peanut butter.
- Whenever possible, order grilled food instead of fried.
- Make your omelet with egg whites instead of eggs.


How Much Protein Is in Broccoli?

Broccoli is a green vegetable that is well known for its health benefits. This is because it contains nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, potassium, etc. In addition, compared to other vegetables, broccoli is considered to bear more protein. Fresh uncooked broccoli contains 90 % water, 7 % carbohydrates, and 3 % of protein. Therefore, one cup of broccoli (91 grams approximately) contains about 2.5 grams of protein.


Which Vegetable Has the Highest Protein Content?

Vegetables that contain high amounts of protein are:
- Green peas.
- Brussel sprouts.
- Broccoli.
- Spinach.
- Mushrooms.
- Soybean sprouts.
- Corn.
- Asparagus.
- Kale.
- Potatoes.
Quadros Krystel Godfrey Lavina
Quadros Krystel Godfrey Lavina


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