Need to get more protein in a small volume? For muscle growth or weight gain (not to mention less volume to chew) it makes sense to focus on the foods that pack the most punch. On average, an ounce of meat provides 7 grams protein. You can reach 10-17 grams protein per ounce with a few specific choices. Here are the top five highest content* protein foods you can find at the store:
- Smoked sockeye salmon filet 17 g– This dry flakey preparation is not like moist lox and comes in a sealed foil pouch needing no refrigeration. Since the water content is evaporated, the % protein per ounce is higher. The curing process in smoked fish typically means added salt, so sodium-watchers beware.
- Pork skins 17 g – Yep. Same notion of subtracting water making the concentration of protein higher. Mind you, they also have a healthy dose of fat and sodium, about 9 g of fat and 524 mg of sodium per ounce (from the rind and deep frying).
- Parmesan cheese 12 g – This intensely flavored hard cheese stores well and is easy to add as a topping to many soups, starches and Italian dishes. Try paper thin slices atop asparagus!
- Dry roasted soybeans 11 g – Crunchier than their namesake, these are often called ‘soynuts.’ Use them in a trail mix, atop a salad, or eaten by itself as a snack. Unseasoned, they are nearly sodium free.
- Cured pork bacon (loin) 11 g – This back cut of bacon resembles a medallion of ham, not the striped belly strips often fried at breakfast. It’s very low in fat but moderate in sodium.
It’s worthy to note that the above list doesn’t reflect the only edible items highest in protein, just the whole foods. With the following ingredients you can top 20 grams protein per ounce, although a spoonful is a more likely amount to use.
- Soy protein isolate – 24g
- Plain dry gelatin – 24g
- Dried egg whites – 23g
- Whey protein powder – 22g
- Dried spirulina seaweed – 16g
Because of moisture and fat content, raw or cooked animal flesh just doesn’t have the richness of protein that the top five do. For you carnivores out there, these are the runners-up: jerky, top round veal or beef, poultry breast, pork loin and egg whites.
If overall health and nutrition trump protein concentration (you can just chew more, right?), then…
My 5 best high protein choices are:
- Beef tenderloin
- Chicken breast
These offer the highest number of nutrients, in addition to protein, while still packing a powerful protein punch. Plus, they are in every grocery store and part of many popular dishes.
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*Based on 100 grams, data from USDA Agricultural Research Service Nutrient Database SR27, 8.29.2014