Foods Rich in Protein

Protein is essential, we all need protein so that our body can break it down into its constituent amino acids that are essential to maintain our bodies. Protein also plays an important part in building and maintaining muscle and can help in maintaining weight as part of a balanced diet.

As a vegetarian who consumes dairy and is looking for a lysine rich food supplement then whey protein is a great source containing 10.3g of lysine and only 2.4g of arginine per 100g. A typical adult needs between 2 to 3 grams depending on their weight so a 30g serving of whey protein powder added to a bowl of porridge or shake will get you your daily requirement.

If you are vegan then whey powder is off the menu. Finding a decent source of high lysine low arginine vegan foods with enough quantity to meet your daily requirements can be tricky. Soy protein powder has about 1.5g of lysine per scoop however it also has about 1.8g or arginine in the same typical 27g scoop of powder.

Most beans have a roughly 1:1 ratio of lysine to arginine but you'd need about 3 or 4 portions a day to reach your daily requirements.

My advice is don't try to micromanage your diet as it will probably become a hassle after too long. Just try to eat a wide a variety of healthy foods as possible and supplement with a decent soy protein as they are amino acid dense. Your body will naturally take care of the details.

Quinoa and soya beans are the only plant foods to contain all essential amino acids.

High Protein Food Supplements

Soy Protein 90%

As measured per 100g the food with the highest level of protein is soy protein isolate which is a massive 90% protein so that's 90 grams out of 100. A typical 30 gram serving would give you 27 grams of complete protein.

Soy protein contains all of the essential amino acids (complete protein) so is good for muscle building and maintaining muscle mass. It is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans and is gluten free and non-dairy.

It is naturally low in fat and available in flavoured versions. Unflavoured you need to mix it with fruit in your shake or smoothie, bananas work well giving it a creamier taste.

It's drinkable mixed with milk or water on its own but not pleasant. I mix it with a banana, porridge oats, oat bran, blueberries and blackberries (both of which are high in antioxidants).

Soy protein powder is also much cheaper to buy than whey protein powder which is about 50% more costly.

In the Soy vs. Whey debate there are those who argue that Whey is better in terms of quality, however both provide all your essential amino acids.

Soy Protein Isolate Amino Acid Profile

  • Tryptophan 1116mg
  • Threonine 3137mg
  • Isoleucine 4253mg
  • Leucine 6782mg
  • Lysine 5327mg
  • Methionine 1130mg
  • Cystine 1046mg
  • Phenylalanine 4594mg
  • Tyrosine 3222mg
  • Valine 4099mg
  • Arginine 6670mg
  • Histidine 2303mg
  • Alanine 3589mg
  • Aspartic acid 10202mg
  • Glutamic acid 17451mg
  • Glycine 3603mg
  • Proline 4960mg
  • Serine 4594mg

Gelatin Powder 83%

Sold as a dietary supplement where it is claimed to be beneficial for joint care and is usually taken in small amounts. Although gelatin powder is very high in protein it is not recommended that is should be consumed in large amounts like protein powders.

Gelatin Powder Amino Acid Profile

  • Tryptophan 0.0mg
  • Threonine 1475mg
  • Isoleucine 1158mg
  • Leucine 2454mg
  • Lysine 3460mg
  • Methionine 606mg
  • Cystine 0.0mg
  • Phenylalanine 1737mg
  • Tyrosine 303mg
  • Valine 2081mg
  • Arginine 6617mg
  • Histidine 662mg
  • Alanine 8008mg
  • Aspartic acid 5266mg
  • Glutamic acid 8753mg
  • Glycine 19051mg
  • Proline 12296mg
  • Serine 2605mg

Egg White Powder 82%

Dried egg white powder is taken as a protein powder supplement like whey or soy. Egg white is a naturally rich source of protein which some people prefer to whey or soy.

Egg White Amino Acid Profile

  • Tryptophan 999mg
  • Threonine 3685mg
  • Isoleucine 4580mg
  • Leucine 6837mg
  • Lysine 5515mg
  • Methionine 2790mg
  • Cystine 2102mg
  • Phenylalanine 4736mg
  • Tyrosine 3153mg
  • Valine 5163mg
  • Arginine 4411mg
  • Histidine 1830mg
  • Alanine 4685mg
  • Aspartic acid 8253mg
  • Glutamic acid 10772mg
  • Glycine 2842mg
  • Proline 3153mg
  • Serine 5593mg

Whey Protein Powder 80%

By far the most popular protein food supplement is whey due to its long proven track record. Bodybuilders and anyone looking to put on more muscle take this supplement as it is easily and quickly digested.

It has long been seen as the superior protein supplement due to its nourishing amino acid profile.

These days you are spoilt for choice. Whey used to just be available as unflavoured but now there are a multitude of flavours from banana to choc mint.

Over time new blends have developed to suit those looking to gain weight or those looking to lose fat with diet whey protein alternatives.

Whey Protein Amino Acid Profile

  • Leucine 11300mg
  • Isoleucine 7200mg
  • Valine 6400mg
  • Methionine 2400mg
  • Arginine 2400mg
  • Histidine 1900mg
  • Lysine 10300mg
  • Phenylanine 3300mg
  • Tryptophan 1900mg
  • Cysteine 2900mg
  • Aspartic Acid 10400mg
  • Alanine 5600mg
  • Glutamic Acid 19000mg
  • Glycine 1900mg
  • Proline 6400mg
  • Serine 5100gm
  • Tyrosine 3400mg

Spirulina Powder 57%

Spirulina or seaweed dried and powdered is high in protein and iron however it is high in salt and so it is used like a condiment to replace salt rather than taken as a protein powder supplement.

Spirulina Powder Amino Acid Profile

  • Tryptophan 929mg
  • Threonine 2970mg
  • Isoleucine 3209mg
  • Leucine 4947mg
  • Lysine 3025mg
  • Methionine 1149mg
  • Cystine 662mg
  • Phenylalanine 2777mg
  • Tyrosine 2584mg
  • Valine 3512mg
  • Arginine 4148mg
  • Histidine 1085mg
  • Alanine 4515mg
  • Aspartic acid 5793mg
  • Glutamic acid 8387mg
  • Glycine 3099mg
  • Proline 2382mg
  • Serine 2998mg
In the UK the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for protein is set at 0.75 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.

The Best High Protein Foods

Frozen Cod Fillets 22%

Cod fillets famously eaten in great quantity by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson are a good quality low fat source of protein. It also contains Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and is a good source of Selenium and B vitamins.

If you buy own brand frozen cod fillets from a UK supermarket you can get them for around 60p to 80p per 100 grams.

Cod Fillet Amino Acid Profile

  • Tryptophan 257mg
  • Threonine 1006mg
  • Isoleucine 1057mg
  • Leucine 1865mg
  • Lysine 2108mg
  • Methionine 679mg
  • Cystine 246mg
  • Phenylalanine 896mg
  • Tyrosine 775mg
  • Valine 1182mg
  • Arginine 1373mg
  • Histidine 676mg
  • Alanine 1388mg
  • Aspartic acid 2350mg
  • Glutamic acid 3426mg
  • Glycine 1102mg
  • Proline 811mg
  • Serine 936mg

Frozen White Fish Fillets (Alaskan Pollock) 22%

A cheaper alternative to Cod is Alaskan Pollock at about 35p per 100g, usually referred to as white fish on the packet and can be bought frozen as fillets.

It has a very similar amino acid profile, nutrient profile and percentage of protein per 100 grams as Cod but is around half the price.

Frozen White Fish Fillets Amino Acid Profile

  • Tryptophan 279mg
  • Threonine 1093mg
  • Isoleucine 1148mg
  • Leucine 2026mg
  • Lysine 2289mg
  • Methionine 738mg
  • Cystine 267mg
  • Phenylalanine 973mg
  • Tyrosine 841mg
  • Valine 1284mg
  • Arginine 1491mg
  • Histidine 734mg
  • Alanine 1507mg
  • Aspartic acid 2552mg
  • Glutamic acid 3721mg
  • Glycine 1196mg
  • Proline 881mg
  • Serine 1017mg

Frozen Chicken Breast Fillets 24%

Chicken is considered to be a healthy protein rich food which is low in fat and high in protein. Just like fish, chicken is a quality complete protein source and just like fish can be microwaved in minutes making it convenient.

Chicken Breast Fillets Amino Acid Profile

  • Tryptophan 362mg
  • Threonine 1310mg
  • Isoleucine 1638mg
  • Leucine 2328mg
  • Lysine 2635mg
  • Methionine 859mg
  • Cystine 397mg
  • Phenylalanine 1231mg
  • Tyrosine 1047mg
  • Valine 1539mg
  • Arginine 1871mg
  • Histidine 963mg
  • Alanine 1692mg
  • Aspartic acid 2764mg
  • Glutamic acid 4646mg
  • Glycine 1524mg
  • Proline 1275mg
  • Serine 1067mg

Protein Rich Red Meat

According to the NHS there is a possible risk of bowel cancer with the high consumption of red and processed meat. There is no known risk from eating fish, chicken, turkey and some other fowl and game birds and are often a richer protein source.

Slice Packet Beef 20%

A packet of precooked beef slices has about 20% protein although this can vary. It can be low fat like fish or chicken if you take care and read the nutrition label. A good source of Niacin, B Vitamins, Zinc and Selenium.

Sliced Beef Amino Acid Profile

  • Tryptophan 229mg
  • Threonine 1178mg
  • Isoleucine 1151mg
  • Leucine 2100mg
  • Lysine 2293mg
  • Methionine 679mg
  • Cystine 333mg
  • Phenylalanine 1052mg
  • Tyrosine 850mg
  • Valine 1291mg
  • Arginine 1898mg
  • Histidine 814mg
  • Alanine 1857mg
  • Aspartic acid 2496mg
  • Glutamic acid 4051mg
  • Glycine 2087mg
  • Proline 1529mg
  • Serine 1147mg

Ham 20%

Sliced lean ham contains around 20% protein and is a source of minerals such as Selenium, Phosphorus and Copper as well as a good source of the vitamin Niacin.

Ham Amino Acid Profile

  • Tryptophan 232mg
  • Threonine 860mg
  • Isoleucine 848mg
  • Leucine 1535mg
  • Lysine 1640mg
  • Methionine 511mg
  • Cystine 291mg
  • Phenylalanine 836mg
  • Tyrosine 634mg
  • Valine 839mg
  • Arginine 1257mg
  • Histidine 693mg
  • Alanine 1142mg
  • Aspartic acid 1832mg
  • Glutamic acid 3153mg
  • Glycine 1006mg
  • Proline 826mg
  • Serine 792mg
  • Hydroxyproline 79mg

Protein Rich Vegetarian Foods

There are not many vegetarian or vegan foods that contain all the essential amino acids we require in our diet. Eggs and dairy products have all the essential amino acids but if these foods are excluded from your diet then soybeans and soy based products are a are high in complete protein.

Quorn Mince 15%

Quorn is made from mycoprotein which is classed as a vegetable. It contains all the essential amino acids so is a complete quality protein.

It is a source of B vitamins, calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium and many other trace elements7.

Quorn Amino Acid Profile

  • Histidine 390mg
  • Isoleucine 570mg
  • Leucine 950mg
  • Lysine 910mg
  • Methionine 230mg
  • Phenylalanine 540mg
  • Tryptophan 180mg
  • Threonine 610mg
  • Valine 600mg

Meat Free Vegetarian Mince (Tesco) 15%

Vegetarian mince is made from textured soya protein and is a quality complete protein containing all the essential amino acids you need.

It is low in fat and high in fibre and is a good source of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and folate as well as being low in salt.

I was unable to source the exact amino acid profile data for textured soya protein but the profile will be similar to soya.

Tinned Tuna

Tuna has long been a popular source of quality protein due to its low cost, low fat and high protein content at around 25 grams per 100 grams of tuna.

Tinned tuna is a cost effective way to get the protein that you need along with vitamins and minerals where tuna is particularly rich in Selenium and Niacin.

If you buy it tinned in water all of the fish oil has been removed. The plus side to this is that it is low in fat however much lower in the beneficial omega fatty acids.

Buying expensive brand tuna is nutritionally no more beneficial than own brand products. Also don't be fooled by labels such as spring water compared to brine, Aldi tuna in brine has 0.73g of salt whereas Asda skipjack tuna chunks in spring water has 1.1g.

Tinned Tuna Amino Acid Profile

  • Tryptophan 265mg
  • Threonine 1035mg
  • Isoleucine 1088mg
  • Leucine 1920mg
  • Lysine 2169mg
  • Methionine 699mg
  • Cystine 253mg
  • Phenylalanine 922mg
  • Tyrosine 797mg
  • Valine 1217mg
  • Arginine 1413mg
  • Histidine 695mg
  • Alanine 1428mg
  • Aspartic acid 2419mg
  • Glutamic acid 3526mg
  • Glycine 1134mg
  • Proline 835mg
  • Serine 964mg

Vegetarian Sausages 18%

Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages as well as non branded alternatives are made from textured soya protein and so have similar nutritional properties to meat free mince.

When choosing textured soya products be mindful of the added ingredients as many vegetarian products can be high in fat and salt.

Linda McCartney red onion and rosemary sausages contain less fat and more fibre than the standard vegetarian sausages.

All information provided on this website is well researched or based on my own experience or my personal opinions and is not intended to constitute medical advice. The overall aim of this site is to encourage people to lead a healthier lifestyle by including healthy sources of protein rich in vitamins and nutrients in their diets as a part of a diverse and well balanced diet.

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