How Much Protein Is in Chicken, Beans, and Other Protein-Rich Foods?

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Protein is a vital component of any diet. Whether your goal is weight loss, building muscle, or improving overall health, it's important to include protein-rich foods in your diet. Depending on your dietary needs and preferences, knowing how much protein is in chicken may not be as important to you as knowing how much protein is in a non-meat source like black beans.

Why You Need Protein

We all need protein to ensure our bodies function optimally. Protein is required to support muscles, the immune system, and the brain. Your body requires adequate protein to break down and use some essential amino acids. Dietary protein is also needed to make several proteins in the body, like hemoglobin and antibodies.

If you become protein-deficient, you may experience muscle wasting, poor wound healing, and a compromised immune system. Protein deficiency can make you more vulnerable to infections, some of which may be serious or difficult to treat.

Your weight loss and management goals can be aided by a diet with plenty of protein-rich foods. Since your body takes longer to digest these foods, you'll feel satisfied longer when you eat foods with protein as opposed to those with a higher percentage of carbohydrate.

Once you know how much protein you need, you can build a meal plan that incorporates the high-protein foods you like best. While chicken, fish, and red meat may be the most obvious sources of dietary protein, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you can get protein from plant sources like beans, nuts, and seeds.

Protein-Rich Foods

These guidelines are general. The amount of protein in each food source can vary, especially according to how they're prepared and cooked.

The ounce-equivalents of protein foods are those that best match 1 ounce of lean beef, pork, skinless poultry, fish or shellfish, providing about 7 grams of protein. These include:

  • 1 egg
  • 1-ounce nuts or seeds
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup cooked beans, green peas, or tofu
  • 1/2 cup hummus

Chicken and Turkey

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Chicken and turkey are excellent sources of lean protein. One ounce of skinless poultry has approximately 7 grams of protein when cooked, or 6 grams of protein per ounce when portions are weighed before cooking. A 4-ounce portion of chicken or turkey (about the size of a deck of cards) provides about 35 grams of protein.

Served hot or cold, cooked chicken or turkey can be eaten on its own. Or include it in a wide range of dishes including sandwiches and wraps, salads, and soups.

Here's how many grams of protein can be found in a typical serving of the different parts of a chicken or turkey (skinless):

  • Turkey breast, roasted (4 ounces): 34 grams 
  • Turkey breast (lunch meat; 1 slice/0.7 ounce): 3.6 grams 
  • Chicken breast (6 ounces): 54 grams
  • Chicken thigh (1.8 ounces): 13.4 grams
  • Chicken wing (0.7 ounces): 6 grams
  • Chicken drumstick (1.5 ounces): 12 grams


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Most cuts of beef have around 7 grams of protein per ounce. If you don't eat red meat often or limit your steak consumption to grilling season, you can still get the benefits with smaller servings: A quarter-pound hamburger patty provides most of your protein needs for the day.

  • 85% lean ground beef (3 ounces, broiled): 22 grams
  • Hamburger patty (4 ounces): 28 grams
  • Steak (6 ounces): 42 grams


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Fish and shellfish are a central source of protein around the world. When cooked, most types of fish have around 6 grams of protein per ounce. Cold-water, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines also provide beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Shrimp (3 ounces): 18 grams
  • Sardines, canned in oil (3.8 ounces): 22.7 grams
  • Salmon (4 ounces): 18.2 grams
  • Tuna (per 6-ounce can): 40 grams

If you're pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are preparing meals for children, choose seafood with lower levels of mercury.


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Pork has about the same protein content as beef and poultry. As with other types of meat, ask for lean cuts and remember that the way you cook and serve meat, as well as your portion size, all affect its nutritional value.

  • Bacon (1 slice): 3 grams
  • Canadian-style bacon or back bacon (1 slice): 5 to 6 grams 
  • Ham (3-ounce serving): 18 grams 
  • Pork chops (average size): 24 grams
  • Pork loin or tenderloin (4 ounces): 26 grams 
  • Ground pork (3 ounces cooked): 22 grams 

Keep in mind that cured pork products like bacon and prosciutto, as well as some deli meat, can have high amounts of salt. Highly processed pork products like hot dogs can also have hidden sugar.

Eggs and Dairy

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

While they're typical breakfast favorites, eggs and dairy products can add protein to other meals, too. Whether you cook them up with the yolk or just the whites, eggs also offer up more than protein: They're a good source of micronutrients like choline, selenium, and B-complex vitamins.

If you tolerate lactose, dairy products present versatile ways to add some protein to your diet—though they also add fat. If you're trying to keep your fat intake low, opt for dairy products made with nonfat milk, or have smaller portions of the full-fat version.

  • Egg (one large): 6 grams
  • Soft cheese, such as mozzarella or Brie (1 ounce): around 6 grams
  • Medium cheese, such as cheddar or Swiss (1 ounce): around 7 grams
  • Hard cheese, such as parmesan (1 ounce): 10 grams 
  • Cottage cheese (1 cup): 25 grams
  • Yogurt (1 cup): 8 to 12 grams—check labels
  • 2% low-fat milk (1 cup): 8 grams

Beans and Soy

Pinto beans
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Beans are a staple source of protein for vegan and vegetarian diets. Compared to animal protein sources, beans are lower in some essential amino acids. However, as long as you eat a variety of plant-based proteins, you are unlikely to become deficient.

You can get creative with tofu, a protein source derived from soy. Tofu can be added to smoothies and shakes, tossed in a salad, or used as a meat substitute in just about any cooked dish, from noodle bowls to nachos.

  • Soy milk, unsweetened (1 cup): 7 grams
  • Split peas (1/2 cup cooked): 8 grams 
  • 1/2 cup of cooked beans (black, pinto, lentils): 7 to 10 grams
  • Peanuts (1/4 cup): 9 grams of protein
  • Soybeans (1/2 cup cooked): 14 grams
  • Tofu (1/2 cup): 10 grams

Tofu is suitable for many dietary needs and preferences: It's low-carb, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.

Nuts and Seeds

Sunflower seeds
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

As with beans, nuts and seeds are high in protein and can give a boost to vegan or vegetarian diets. Note that the amount needed to supply a protein equivalent is less for nuts and seeds than it is for beans.

In addition to protein, most nuts and seeds provide polyunsaturated fats, fiber, minerals (such as magnesium and calcium), and phytonutrients.

Nuts and seeds are among the most versatile options for protein, as they can be eaten on their own or added to a meal. You can add nuts to your morning cereal or yogurt, sprinkle some seeds in a smoothie, or use both as non-meat protein sources for salads and stir-fries.

Protein Powders

Protein powder can be made from whey and casein (both found in milk), egg, soy, rice, hemp, and peas. The amount of protein and carbohydrate in different protein powder brands will vary depending on the source, so be sure to check the labels carefully.

Many protein powders are marketed to bodybuilders and athletes. Protein powders are not regulated, so they may contain toxins and/or additives. Look for a USP, NSF, or Consumer Labs seal to assure the ingredients in the product are safe and the label is accurate.

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