15 Best Protein Sources for a Lean Body
Now that we’ve covered how much you actually need, let’s get to the fun part! Here are the best sources of protein for a lean body and some yummy recipes to go with them!
The first protein on our list is white fish. This lean, low-fat fish is almost all protein! Some popular types include cod, tilapia, grouper, flounder, halibut, snapper, catfish, and haddock. On average, this fish type offers 7 grams of protein per ounce.
- Orange Miso Wild Cod
- Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
- Halibut Steaks with Pico de Gallo
- Air-Fried Fish Tacos
- Parchment Baked Fish and Vegetables
This type of fish is fattier, and usually changes colors throughout the cooking process. While it’s higher in fat than white fish, the type of fat is essential and incredibly nutritious. Some examples of this Omega-rich fish include tuna, salmon, trout, sardine, anchovy, and mackerel. On average, this option offers 6 grams of protein per ounce.
- Grilled Tuna Tacos with Fresh Mango Salsa
- Sriracha Salmon Power Bowl
- Simple One Pan Lemon Salmon with Roasted Asparagus
Love salmon? We have plenty more recipes to choose from!
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
Chicken is an obvious choice for our list of best protein sources. White meat is leaner than dark meat, and can be found in breasts and wings. Dark meat is fattier and is found in the legs. There are 9 grams of protein per ounce of boneless, skinless chicken breast.
Boneless, Skinless Turkey Breast
While chicken is a bit richer in protein, turkey is lower in fat than chicken. One ounce of cooked, boneless, skinless turkey breast offers 7 grams of protein.
- Foolproof Maple Garlic Turkey Breast
- Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
- Skinny Slow Cooker Turkey Sloppy Joes
Beef Jerky (no sugar added)
It may surprise you, but beef jerky with no sugar added offers a whopping 13 grams of protein per single ounce. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to find zero sugar jerky. It makes the perfect high protein snack on the go!
Shrimp is another super lean protein from the sea, although it does offer some essential Omega-3 fatty acids. A single ounce of cooked shrimp contains 7 grams of protein.
We know you want more shrimp recipes! Don’t worry, we’ve got them!
Eggs and Egg Whites
Whole eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. There’s a common misconception that eating egg yolks should be avoided because they will raise your cholesterol. It’s important to understand, however, that while eggs have been shown to raise cholesterol, they raise HDL levels– also known as “good” cholesterol. Furthermore, this study showed that only 30% of people experienced a slight jump in LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind).
A whole egg offers 6 grams of protein with 5 grams of fat, while one egg white offers 3.6 grams of protein and essentially no fat. Pro tip: Purchase a carton of liquid egg whites and add some to your whole scrambled eggs in the morning for an extra protein boost!
We love eggs for breakfast, but breakfast foods can be eaten for lunch and dinner, too!
Plain Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is an excellent alternative to regular yogurt. It is much higher in protein and contains way less sugar. One cup of plain Greek yogurt provides 20 grams of protein. Add it to your smoothies, use it in a parfait, or just add some berries!
- Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad with Toasted Pecans and Apples
- Vanilla Bean Yogurt Shake
- Skinny Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip
- Berry and Chia Yogurt Parfait
- Chia Seed Berry Yogurt Smoothie
Most people either love cottage cheese, or hate it. If you love it like I do, you’ll be happy to know that it’s an excellent source of protein! I suggest choosing low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese. One cup contains 180 calories and offers around 24 grams of protein!
Try it in any of the recipes below, or enjoy it as a snack on it’s own with some fresh pineapple slices!
- Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl
- Rich, Creamy, and Healthy Chicken Florentine Casserole
- Three Cheese Ziti with Turkey
Regular tofu is a good source of protein for our vegetarian and plant-based friends, but lite tofu is lower in fat and calories. A 4-ounce serving of lite tofu offers just over 7 grams of protein but only contains 1 gram of fat.
- Easy Tofu Chocolate Mousse
- Black Bean and Tofu Enchiladas with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce
- Vegan BLT Sandwich with Scrumptious Waffle Iron Tofu Bacon
- Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls with Spiced Tofu
- Baked Tofu Chunks with Cajun Spice Dry Rub
Pumpkin seeds are another great source of plant-based protein, most of which is found in the white shell. A single ounce (about a handful) of pumpkin seeds contains about 150 calories and offers around 9 grams of protein.
Try snacking on these yummy Chili Lime Pumpkin Seeds!
Not only does this nut provide more fiber than any other tree nut but it also contains the most protein, at 6 grams per ounce. Almonds are a great snack or salad topper!
- No-Bake Almond Energy Balls
- Dating Almond Smoothie Recipe
- Smoked and Spicy Roasted Almonds
- Peach, Cherry, and Almond Overnight Oats
- Clean Eating Almond Butter
Beans and Legumes
This category includes many options, but some of the most popular are black beans, soybeans (edamame), lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans, kidney beans, and split peas. Each of these range in the amount of protein they offer, from as little as 8 grams to as much as 24 grams per half cup serving. The lowest in protein is black beans while split peas offer the most!
- Amazing Black Beanadillas
- Easy Vegetarian Sloppy Joes
- Spicy Kale Salad with Chickpeas and Maple Dijon Dressing
- Homemade Plant-Based Ramen with Edamame
- Instant Pot Split Pea and Ham Soup
If you’re looking for another excellent source of plant-based protein, quinoa is a great choice. Like eggs, quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it offers all 9 essential amino acids that your body must acquire through diet alone. One cup of this fiber-rich option offers 8 grams of protein.