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30 High Protein Foods to Amp Your Muscles

Fitness Editor
Julia is a qualified fitness trainer. She writes our articles about nutrition and fitness. She also makes free workout plans for our site.

Protein is the building block of your muscles – and it’s used in other spots around the body, too. So, high protein foods are must-haves in your diet. Take a deep dive into all things protein here and see our charts with our top 30: 15 each of the top animal and plant-based protein sources.

What kinds of foods contain a lot of protein?

Protein is a fundamental part of every cell in the body and is vital for building muscle and breaking down fat. Since it doesn’t produce its own protein, your body needs to get it through what you eat.

A balanced diet can easily hit your recommended protein requirements. Animal sources of protein, such as milk and dairy products, eggs, fish, and meat are one option. Whether or not you choose to eat animal products, we always recommend that you use plant-based proteins to provide some of the protein in your diet. Legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are good plant-based sources of protein (and provide other important nutrients as well!).

There are tons of protein-rich foods out there, and some are a real powerhouse. Especially in stressful everyday life, these foods can help you meet your goals.

According to the European Health Claims Regulation, a food may only be labeled “high in protein” or “rich in protein” if at least 20 percent of the total caloric value of the food can be attributed to its protein content. Accordingly, a food is considered a good source of protein if at least 12 percent of its calories come from protein.

Animal products high in protein

Low-fat meats such as chicken or lean beef, and fish such as pollock, salmon, and shellfish are among the most important animal-based proteins. A balanced diet can be rounded out with eggs, milk, and dairy, although meat and fish have a higher protein content than dairy and eggs. Dairy products such as (Greek) yogurt, buttermilk, and kefir are particularly easy to digest.

Not sure how much protein you need? Check out our free Body Check. Define your goals, calculate your BMI, and get individually tailored training and nutrition tips now.

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TOP 15 animal protein powerhouses

FOOD Protein per 100g
Whey Protein  80g
Beef jerky 55g
Serrano ham 30g
Harzer cheese 30g
Anchovies 29g
Tuna 26g
Camembert 24g
Venison 23g
Turkey breast 23g
Beef 21.2g
Shrimp 18.5g
Cottage cheese 13g
Quark 12.6g
Egg white 11g
Low-fat (1.5%) yogurt 3g

High-quality protein for a successful workout

Have you been training at full speed to reach a new goal? Support your workouts with the right sports nutrition. In addition to a healthy and balanced diet rich in animal and plant proteins, you can, for example, promote muscle gain with a protein shake after your workout. Check out which of our Protein Shakes is best suited for your goals.

Join us in taking your training to the next level. Our high-quality protein products help you reach those targets. Each of our protein shakes promises you optimal nutrition for your fitness goals. Curious? See for yourself.

A Mason jar overflowing with foamy Whey Protein shake and topped with chocolate sandwich cookies: delicious high protein foods are only a shaker away!
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Whey protein is a classic go-to in the world of protein powder and shakes. It’s particularly suitable for strength and endurance athletes, as it contains high-quality protein building blocks and amino acids, which the muscles need for sustainable development as well as for regeneration. Whey is absorbed by the body extremely quickly and completely metabolized within 30-45 minutes after ingestion – so it’s your perfect companion after hard workouts.

Plant-based high protein foods

In addition to animal sources of protein, there are also protein-rich plant-based foods. Lucky for vegetarians and vegans, plant-based proteins are rich in carbohydrates, fiber, and phytochemicals. In contrast to animal protein sources, they’re cholesterol- and purine-free and also low in fat, which can have adverse effects on health. These substances are inevitably ingested through meat. The most important sources of vegetable protein include potatoes, vegetables, beans, lentils, and nuts. Certain whole grains can also help to supplement the protein requirements of a muscle-building diet.

Top 15 plant protein powerhouses

FOOD Protein per 100g
Sweet lupin flour 39g
Hemp seeds 37g
Soybeans 34g
Peanuts 25g
Pumpkin seeds 24g
Lentils 23g
Chia seeds 21g
Almonds 20g
Tempeh 19g
Natto 17g
Quinoa 15g
Oats 13g
Tofu 11g
Bean sprouts 6g
Brussels sprouts 4g

Do you eat a vegan diet and want to build muscle mass and strength effectively and sustainably? Or maybe working on getting fit and toned? Our plant-based protein products are designed to support you in achieving your individual goals. Learn more about our vegan power here.

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Protein-rich food for a super boost of protein

Peanut Butter:

This nutty protein source is perfect as a snack, spread, topping, or sauce. Sweet or savory, peanut butter is a protein-rich go-to in any pantry.

Protein Muesli:

Want the royal treatment for breakfast? No problem with this protein muesli. Every spoonful’s a decadent protein kick.

Chia Seeds:

They deliver high levels of fiber, protein, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially ideal for those on a diet.

Vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in supporting your training goals. Curious? Explore more here.

Animal and plant protein sources

Protein-containing foods – whether aimed for carnivores or vegans – satisfy almost all the requirements for optimal metabolism. Major differences come down to factors like their amino acid profile. Each source has its advantages and disadvantages, and the right combination of animal and plant protein sources can help ensure optimal results. The body cannot produce protein itself, so a protein-rich diet is important.

Utilization

In principle, both plant-based proteins and meat contain all 9 essential amino acids. However, animal proteins have a higher amount of these amino acids. As such, they’re more similar in composition to human body protein than protein-containing plant products.

The more a protein resembles endogenous protein, the higher its biological value. This means that the protein of protein-containing animal foods ingested from food can be utilized more easily due to the similar structure, so that it can then be converted into the body’s own protein.

Effects

Even though the protein content and biological value of protein-containing, plant-based foods is often lower than that of animal products, a healthy diet should still emphasize vegetables, legumes, and some grains. Compared to animal foods, plant-based proteins have a low fat content and fewer calories. Animal foods often contain saturated fats and high cholesterol, and form purines (uric acid). An excess of uric acid promotes obesity, cardiovascular disease, and fat metabolism disorders.

Getting the most out of high protein foods

Regular consumption of protein, no matter its origin, is essential in a healthy diet. A well-planned combination of both kinds of protein sources increases the biological value and thus the quality of the proteins.

This leads to a healthy, varied diet with complex carbohydrates, less fat, more fiber, and fewer calories. A mix of plant and animal foods is ideal, although vegetarian foods should be the primary source of protein. If your protein requirement is covered by a variety of protein-containing vegetables, potatoes, or nuts, you’ll also absorb important micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and trace elements.

Article sources
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