Protein in Chicken Breast, Steak, Beans, Fish, and More Protein-Rich Foods

A 3-ounce chicken breast provides 27 grams of protein

Protein is a vital component of any diet. Whether your goal is weight loss, building muscle, or maintaining overall health, it's important to include protein-rich foods in your diet. Knowing the amount of protein in chicken breast, beans, steak, fish, and other foods can help you structure your meals optimally.

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 obtain essential amino acids. Dietary protein is also needed to make several proteins in the body, like hemoglobin and antibodies.

Although very rare, if you become protein deficient, you may experience loss of muscle, 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.

A diet with plenty of protein-rich foods may help you maintain a healthy weight.. 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 carbohydrates.

What Is Lean Protein?

You will often hear the term "lean protein" when you are investigating your protein sources. But what does that term really mean? According to the USDA, lean beef must be labeled at least 90% lean. Some leaner cuts of beef include round roast, top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder.

For poultry, lean protein is skinless. The leanest cuts come from chicken breast or turkey cutlet.

Choosing lean sources of pork comes down to which cuts you choose. Lean cuts include pork loin, tenderloin, and ham.

How Much Protein You Need

The recommended intake value for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of body weight. Once you know how much protein you need, you can build a meal plan that incorporates the high-protein foods you like best to meet your needs. While chicken, fish, and red meat may be the most obvious dietary protein sources, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you can get protein from plant sources like beans, nuts, and seeds.

One ounce of lean beef, pork, skinless poultry, fish, or shellfish provides about 7 grams of protein. For other protein-containing foods, the following serving sizes are roughly equivalent to 1 ounce of meat.

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup cooked beans, green peas, or tofu
  • 4 oz. falafel patty

These guidelines are general. The amount of protein in each food source can vary, especially according to how they're prepared and cooked. You can use this method of counting servings in place of counting grams.

The information below lists the amount of protein found in 100 grams of each food product. In this way, you can directly compare how protein-dense different foods are. However, keep in mind that 100 grams might not be the right serving size of each food. For reference, 3 ounces, which is a common serving size measure for meat like chicken or beef, is 85 grams.

Chicken and Turkey

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Skinless chicken and turkey are excellent sources of lean protein. A 3-ounce portion of chicken or turkey (about the size of the palm of your hand) provides about 26 grams of protein.

Lean poultry is an excellent protein source because it contains less fat and calories with a higher ratio of protein per serving compared to some other meats.

Grams of protein per 100 grams of food:

  • Chicken breast: 32 grams
  • Turkey breast: 30.1 grams 
  • Chicken thigh: 24.8 grams
  • Chicken drumstick: 23.9 grams
  • Chicken wing: 30.5 grams


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Most cuts of beef have around 7 grams of protein per ounce; however, the exact amount can vary depending on how much fat the cut contains.

Grams of protein per 100 grams of food:

  • Steak: 27.3 grams
  • Hamburger patty: 18 grams
  • Beef chuck pot roast: 34.6 grams
  • 85% lean ground beef: 25.9 grams
  • Deli-style roast beef: 18.6 grams

If you are looking to limit saturated fat consumption, you can trim visible fat from beef and buy lean or extra lean ground beef. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 120 calories (13 grams) from saturated fat at a 2000-calorie-per-day diet.


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Fish and shellfish are a major 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.

Grams of protein per 100 grams of food:

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. For instance, whether you fry or grill it or add additional toppings like breading and sauces will impact overall calories and macronutrient content.

Grams of protein per 100 grams of food:

  • Pork loin or tenderloin: 26.2 grams
  • Pork chops: 24.7 grams
  • Ground pork: 25.7 grams
  • Ham: 16.6 grams
  • Canadian-style bacon: 20.3 grams 
  • Bacon: 13.7 grams  

Keep in mind that cured pork products like bacon and prosciutto and 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 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 low-fat or nonfat milk, or have smaller portions of the full-fat version.

Grams of protein per 100 grams of food:

  • Cottage cheese: 10.4 grams
  • Plain Greek Yogurt: 10 grams
  • Hard cheese, such as parmesan: 35.8 grams 
  • 2% low-fat milk: 3.5 grams
  • Swiss cheese: 27 grams
  • Egg : 12.6 grams
  • Mozzarella cheese: 23.7 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. For instance, whether you fry or grill it or add additional toppings like breading and sauces will impact overall calories and macronutrient content.

Grams of protein per 100 grams of food:

  • Soybeans: 13 grams
  • Tofu: 8 grams
  • Black beans: 21.6 grams
  • Lentils: 24.6 grams
  • Split peas: 23.1 grams 
  • Soy milk, unsweetened: 2.78 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 for beans.

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

Grams of protein per 100 grams of food:

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 plant and animal protein sources such as 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.

A Word From Verywell

No matter what your favorite source of protein is, getting an adequate amount will help keep your body functioning optimally. Beans, nuts, and seeds are excellent sources of plant-based protein for those who choose to not eat meat or limit their intake of meat for ethical, environmental, or other personal reasons.

49 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Khan A, Khan S, Jan AA, et al. Health complication caused by protein deficiency. J Food Sci Nutr. 2017;1(1):1-2

  2. Pezeshki A, Zapata RC, Singh A, Yee NJ, Chelikani PK. Low protein diets produce divergent effects on energy balanceSci Rep. 2016;6:25145. doi:10.1038/srep25145

  3. Dhillon J, Craig BA, Leidy HJ, et al. The effects of increased protein intake on fullness: A meta-analysis and its limitations. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016;116(6):968-983. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2016.01.003.

  4. How do I choose lean meat and poultry? AskUSDA. United States Department of Agriculture.

  5. Protein foods. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  6. Chicken, broiler or fryers, breast, skinless, boneless, meat only, cooked, braised. USDA FoodData Central.

  7. Turkey, whole, breast, meat only, cooked, roasted. USDA FoodData Central.

  8. Chicken, broilers or fryers, thigh, meat only, cooked, roasted. USDA FoodData Central.

  9. Chicken, broilers or fryers, drumstick, meat only, cooked, braised. USDA FoodData Central.

  10. Chicken, broilers or fryers, wing, meat only, cooked, roasted. USDA FoodData Central.

  11. Beef, short loin, t-bone steak, bone-in, separable lean only, trimmed to 1/8" fat, choice, cooked, grilled. USDA FoodData Central.

  12. Hamburger, on wheat bun, 1 small patty. USDA FoodData Central.

  13. Beef, chuck, arm pot roast, separable lean only, trimmed to 1/8" fat, select, cooked, braised. USDA FoodData Central.

  14. Beef, ground, 85% lean meat / 15% fat, patty, cooked, broiled. USDA FoodData Central.

  15. Roast beef, deli style, prepackaged, sliced. USDA FoodData Central.

  16. American Heart Association. Saturated fat.

  17. Fish, tilapia, cooked, dry heat. USDA FoodData Central.

  18. Fish, tuna, white, canned in water, drained solids. USDA FoodData Central.

  19. Fish, sardine, Atlantic, canned in oil, drained solids with bone. USDA FoodData Central.

  20. Fish, halibut, Atlantic and Pacific, cooked, dry heat. USDA FoodData Central.

  21. Fish, salmon, pink, cooked, dry heat. USDA FoodData Central.

  22. Crustaceans, shrimp, cooked. USDA FoodData Central.

  23. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Advice about eating fish.

  24. Pork, fresh, loin, tenderloin, separable lean only, cooked, roasted. USDA FoodData Central.

  25. Pork, fresh, blade, (chops), boneless, separable lean and fat, cooked, broiled. USDA FoodData Central.

  26. Pork, fresh, ground, cooked. USDA FoodData Central.

  27. Ham, sliced, regular (approximately 11% fat). USDA FoodData Central.

  28. Canadian bacon, unprepared. USDA FoodData Central.

  29. Pork, cured, bacon, unprepared. USDA FoodData Central.

  30. Cheese, cottage, lowfat, 2% milkfat. USDA FoodData Central.

  31. Yogurt, Greek, plain, lowfat. USDA FoodData Central.

  32. Cheese, parmesan, hard. USDA FoodData Central.

  33. Milk, reduced fat, fluid, 2% milkfat, with added nonfat milk solids and vitamin A and vitamin D. USDA FoodData Central.

  34. Cheese, swiss. USDA FoodData Central.

  35. Egg, whole, raw, fresh. USDA FoodData Central.

  36. Cheese, mozzarella, low moisture, part-skim. USDA FoodData Central.

  37. de Gavelle E, Huneau J-F, Bianchi CM, Verger EO, Mariotti F. Protein adequacy is primarily a matter of protein quantity, not quality: Modeling an increase in plant:animal protein ratio in French adults. Nutrients. 2017;9(12). doi:10.3390/nu9121333

  38. Soybeans, green, raw. USDA FoodData Central.

  39. Tofu, raw, regular, prepared with calcium sulfate. USDA FoodData Central.

  40. Beans, black, mature seeds, raw. USDA FoodData Central.

  41. Lentils, raw. USDA FoodData Central.

  42. Peas, green, split, mature seeds, raw. USDA FoodData Central.

  43. Soy milk, unsweetened, plain, refrigerated. USDA FoodData Central.

  44. Flax seeds. USDA FoodData Central.

  45. Cashews, unroasted. USDA FoodData Central.

  46. Pumpkin seeds, unsalted. USDA FoodData Central.

  47. Sunflower seeds, plain, unsalted. USDA FoodData Central.

  48. Almonds, unsalted. USDA FoodData Central.

  49. Pecans, unsalted. USDA FoodData Central.

Additional Reading

By Laura Dolson
Laura Dolson is a health and food writer who develops low-carb and gluten-free recipes for home cooks.