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Which Meats are Highest in Protein?

Every meat is high in protein and contains next to no carbohydrates. This means its macronutrients are a mixture of proteins and fats.

However, each meat and the cut of that meat have different protein-to-fat ratios. This makes certain meats more protein-dense than others.

This list shares the highest protein meats and their alternative cuts, making it easier to add them to your diet.

Which meats are highest in protein?

Protein Density: How to Compare Cuts of Meat for Protein Content

Protein density refers to the amount of protein present in a particular weight of meat. To make it easier and more scalable, I have measured the protein content in each type of meat per 100 grams. This measurement will help you to easily identify the meats with the highest protein content, as well as the percentage of protein in each type of meat.

Why Protein Density Matters

The protein density of different meats influences their nutritional value and how they fit into your diet. High-protein, lean meats provide lots of protein with minimal fat, making them ideal for lean dietary goals. On the other hand, meats with lower protein density require larger portions to meet the same protein needs.

12 of the Highest Protein Meats

Each meat is calculated using its raw weight, which is the most common way nutrition is calculated on the meat’s packaging. Some brands can vary slightly as the nutrition can depend on where they source the meat.

1) Chicken Breast

Protein per 100 grams: 31 grams

Chicken breast is very lean and protein-dense meat. It’s low-fat and rich in essential nutrients like B vitamins, important for energy metabolism and overall health. Chicken breast is also very versatile and accessible, making it an excellent choice for a high-protein diet.

Alternative cuts: Chicken thighs (25g of protein per 100g) are a flavorful alternative, offering a richer taste due to their higher fat content. They’re also a great source of minerals like selenium and zinc, supporting immune function and overall well-being.

2) Turkey Breast

Protein per 100 grams: 30 grams

Turkey breast is renowned for its lean protein content, low in fat yet high in essential nutrients such as selenium, crucial for thyroid function and antioxidant defenses. Its texture makes it a versatile substitute for chicken breast.

Alternative cuts: Ground Turkey (27g of protein per 100g) is a versatile option that maintains the health benefits of turkey in a form that’s ideal for a variety of dishes. Turkey Thighs, with 26g of protein per 100g, provide a juicier and more flavorful alternative, still rich in essential nutrients but with a slightly higher fat content.

3) Venison

Protein per 100 grams: 30 grams

As a lean source of protein, venison stands out for its lower calorie and saturated fat content compared to traditional red meats. It’s also rich in iron and B vitamins, supporting healthy blood and a strong immune system.

4) Elk

Protein per 100 grams: 30 grams

Similar to venison, elk meat is a fantastic source of lean protein, iron, and B vitamins. Its gamey flavor and nutritional profile make it a great alternative for those looking to diversify their protein sources.

5) Beef Tenderloin

Protein per 100 grams: 28 grams

Beef tenderloin is a premium cut that is the highest protein beef cut. It contains essential nutrients like iron, zinc, and B vitamins without the excess fat found in other beef cuts.

Alternative cuts: Ground Beef (95% lean) provides a lean alternative that can be used in many popular recipes.

6) Bison

Protein per 100 grams: 28 grams

Bison is high-protein meat and all-round lower in saturated fat than beef. It provides important nutrients like iron and vitamin B12, essential for blood health and energy levels.

7) Tuna Steak

Protein per 100 grams: 28 grams

Beyond its high protein content, tuna is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, supporting heart health and reducing inflammation. It’s a meaty fish with a flavor and texture that appeals to many who enjoy both seafood and red meat.

Alternative cuts: Canned Tuna in Brine (25g of protein per 100g) provides a convenient and shelf-stable high-protein option. While slightly lower in protein than fresh tuna steak, it remains a nutritious choice rich in vitamins and minerals, ideal for quick and healthy meals.

8) Lamb Loin

Protein per 100 grams: 26 grams

Lamb is a flavorful source of high-quality protein, rich in essential nutrients like zinc, iron, and vitamin B12. It’s a great choice for adding variety to your protein sources while maintaining a focus on nutrition.

9) Salmon

Protein per 100 grams: 25 grams

Salmon is prized not only for its protein content but also for its omega-3 fatty acids, enhancing heart health and cognitive function. It’s a versatile fish that fits beautifully into a healthy eating plan.

10) Pheasant

Protein per 100 grams: 25 grams

Pheasant provides a unique flavor among lean protein sources. It’s packed with vitamins B6 and B12, aiding energy metabolism and neurological health.

11) Pork Tenderloin

Protein per 100 grams: 22 grams

Pork tenderloin is a lean cut high in protein and essential nutrients like thiamin, selenium, and niacin, without the typical fat content associated with pork.

Alternative cuts: Ground Pork (95% lean) ensures that pork lovers can enjoy high-protein dishes with reduced fat content.

12) Rabbit

Protein per 100 grams: 21 grams

Rabbit meat is a traditional lean protein source, offering a high protein content with low overall fat and cholesterol levels. It’s also a good source of phosphorus and potassium, supporting bone health and cardiovascular function.

Comparing Cuts of the Same Meat

  • Chicken Breast vs. Chicken Thighs: With a protein content of 31 grams per 100 grams, chicken breast is one of the most protein-dense meats available, ideal for those looking to increase protein intake without added fat. Chicken thighs, offering 25 grams of protein per 100 grams, provide a tasty alternative but with a slightly lower protein density and higher fat content.
  • Turkey Breast vs. Turkey Thighs: Turkey breast, with 30 grams of protein per 100 grams, is another top pick for lean protein, low in fat and rich in nutrients like selenium. Turkey thighs come close with 26 grams of protein per 100 grams, offering a darker, richer meat that’s slightly less lean but still packed with protein.
  • Beef Tenderloin vs. Ground Beef (95% lean): Beef tenderloin, offering 28 grams of protein per 100 grams, combines high protein with key nutrients like iron, zinc, and B vitamins, without the high fat content of other beef cuts. Ground Beef (95% lean) is nearly as protein-dense, providing a flexible, lean beef option that works in a variety of popular dishes.
  • Tuna Steak vs. Canned Tuna in Brine: Tuna steak boasts 28 grams of protein per 100 grams, offering a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids along with high protein. Canned Tuna in Brine, at 25 grams of protein per 100 grams, offers a convenient, shelf-stable option that maintains high protein content, making it ideal for quick, nutritious meals.


When it comes to incorporating these high-protein meats into your diet, consider not only the protein density but also the nutritional profile and how they fit into your overall dietary goals.

Whether you’re bulking for muscle growth, toning for a leaner physique, or simply seeking a balanced and nutritious diet, choosing the right cuts of meat can help.

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