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High Protein Food List [What To Eat & What To Avoid]


If you're looking to get started with eating more high quality protein to support a weight los or wellness goal but you're not sure where to start, then you absolutely need to bookmark this page.


Today I'm sharing a (nearly) complete high protein food list as well as high protein foods that you probably want to avoid.


Let's dive into it.


high protein food list

How Much Protein To Eat

A good place to start for most people is aiming for 30 grams of complete protein per meal (assuming that you're eating 3 meals a day). Most people are eating significantly lower than that and therefore will likely experience many of the benefits of eating high quality protein by aiming for 30 grams per meal.


However, depending on your height and activity level, you might need significantly more protein than this. You can find out more specifically how much protein to eat per day with my super simple video below.



high protein food list

Note: Make sure to save or print this image for future reference! This is a nearly complete high protein food list, however there are always new products coming out (such as plant-based greek style yogurt). If there are any notable updates, you can check back in on this blog post for edits.


High Protein Foods To Eat

There are a lot of high quality proteins that you can start adding to your meals in order to hit your needs. But there are also a lot of "high protein foods" that you should probably avoid if you're looking to achieve a weight loss or wellness goal (more on that in a bit).


When picking which protein to fill your plate with, ideally we want to first aim for eating the most whole food sources available. These will contain protein as well as other important vitamins, minerals and fatty acids for overall health.


Pretty much all of the proteins listed in the image above are from whole food (or minimally processed) sources and are great options to fill your plate with.


You can also supplement some of your lower protein meals with a high quality protein powder. Protein powder is a delicious and easy way to significantly bump up the protein at a meal (especially if you find it difficult to hit your daily needs).


I use my zero sugar, pasture-raised whey protein powder in my smoothies, chia pudding, zero added sugar hot chocolate and so. much. more.


autumn bates protein powder


Quality really matters when it comes to using protein to achieve a weight loss or wellness goal (and I'm not talking about grass-fed or organic).


It's important to prioritize high quality proteins, which means proteins that are easily broken down and absorbed in the body. These rate high on the "DIAAS" score, which is a measure of protein quality.


Low quality proteins do not provide the same benefit as high quality proteins and therefore shouldn't be used as a main source of protein. Examples of low DIAAS proteins include collagen, peanut butter and beans.


It's not to say that these are bad. They just aren't high quality proteins.


I still use each of these foods for different benefits, but I make sure to prioritize getting protein from high quality sources first.



chia pudding
I use a combination of skyr (or greek yogurt) and my zero sugar protein powder to hit 25-30 grams of protein in my chia pudding!

You might have noticed that there are asterisks next to quite a few proteins listed in the protein list above. Here's a reference guide to each:


*= These proteins contain high quality fat in much larger amounts than the other proteins listed in this category.


**= This entire category contain nearly equivalent amounts of fat and protein and therefore is difficult to eat 30 grams worth of protein. For this reason, it shouldn't be used as the primary source of protein at every meal. The exceptions are those within this category that have two asterisks. These actually are quite high in protein with relatively low fat.


***= Each of these items are lower in protein and therefore need quite a bit more to hit 30 grams at a serving.


****= This entire category tends to come packaged with a higher amount of fat and can therefore be difficult to hit 30 grams of protein with just one ingredient. For example, most people don't want to eat 5-6 eggs in one sitting. You can combine other protein rich foods to help boost the overall protein content of the meal. For example, adding a few ounces of salmon lox with 3 eggs. (A few exceptions: cottage cheese, greek yogurt, skyr, protein powder, halloumi and paneer.)


*****= These are the highest DIAAS plant-based proteins. Typically, I recommend trying to stick to tempeh (because it's fermented and therefore helps to break down anti-nutrients) when eating soy. Other plant-based foods can be eaten in different specific combinations to help bring the DIAAS score up. You can find those details HERE.


high protein food to avoid

"High Protein" Foods To Avoid

Because protein is such a useful tool for helping to achieve a weight loss goal, a lot of companies have started to make junky "high protein" snack foods to capitalize on its popularity.


Unfortunately most of the time these different foods are very high in sugar or have been developed in a way that makes it very easy to overeat. They also tend to provide little to no nutritional value.


For this reason, it's important to avoid most of these "high protein" foods:

  • most protein bars

  • protein cookies

  • protein chips

  • most protein "shakes"


If something that is generally viewed as a "treat" item (like ice cream, candy and cookies) is suddenly being marketed to you as "high protein", it's always important to check the nutrition labels.


Look to see exactly how much protein is in that food as well as how much sugar (added or regular). If the protein looks low and the sugar looks high, it's likely not supportive of a weight loss or wellness goal.


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❤️ Autumn



Autumn Elle Nutrition


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1 Comment


Regretfully, the majority of these various foods have a high sugar content or have been designed in a way that encourages overindulgence. doodle jump

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