What are the best protein foods?
Perhaps the fairest and most practical way of rating protein foods is to look at the amount of protein in relation to the total calories in a food. The following chart will show you how to get enough protein without overdosing on fat.
Grams of Protein per serving Percentage of calories as protein
Fish, tuna (4 oz) 25-30 83%
Egg white (1) 3.5 82%
Cottage cheese, nonfat (1/2 c.) 15 75%
Poultry, breast, no skin (4 oz) 25 75%
Kidney beans (1/2 cup) 7 60%
Tofu, firm (3 oz) 13 45%
Yogurt, plain nonfat (1 cup) 12 40%
Beef, lean (4 oz) 30 40%
Egg, whole (1) 6 33%
Milk, 1% (8 ounces) 8 32%
Peanut butter (2 tbsp.) 8 17%
Cereal (1 cup) with 1/2 c. milk 6-8 17%
Nuts or sunflower seeds (oz.) 7 16%
Pasta (1 cup) 7 15%
Whole wheat bread (1 slice) 3 15%
THE MOST POWERFUL PROTEINS
Some proteins are more powerful than others. What makes one protein more powerful than another is not only whether it contains all the essential amino acids, but how many different amino acids it contains. That’s why nutritional scientists use the Protein-Energy Ratio (PER) and Biological Value (BV) ratings of proteins, which measure how well the body utilizes amino acids in a protein. Here’s how the main proteins rate (from highest to lowest) by how well they are utilized in the body.
- Whey protein (the lactalbumin extract from dairy proteins found in protein supplements; also the predominant protein in human milk)
- Egg white
- Dairy products
- Legumes (e.g., beans, lentils)