A Guide to Protein Serving Sizes

By: Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D.

We looked at protein-rich foods and tell you how many grams of protein you really get in a serving of chicken breast, eggs and more.

Protein is one powerhouse nutrient. It helps keep you full, and your body uses it to help grow and maintain muscles, blood vessels, skin, hair and nails. Plus, protein also plays a key role in synthesizing hormones and enzymes in your body. 

Protein is found in a variety of foods, including meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, beans, nuts and whole grains. According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, women need 46 grams of protein and men need 56 grams of protein (but this does vary depending on how many calories you eat each day). Learn exactly how much protein you need to eat every day. Your protein needs are also dependent on your age, activity level and whether you are pregnant or have any chronic diseases. 

If you eat a balanced diet, you are likely getting the daily required amount without much difficulty. A standard 3-oz. chicken breast has about 26 grams of protein in it, which is more than half of what's recommended for women. But despite the fact that most people get enough protein, it remains a popular macronutrient to eat. It helps keep you full (read: less hangry) and powers up your muscles. 

To make it easier for you to eat up, we looked at what a serving of protein looks like and how much you're getting from different sources.

Related: Top Vegetarian Protein Sources

Chicken breast

Lemon-Sopressata Chicken

3 ounces cooked = 26 grams of protein

Chicken breast is a popular protein for a reason. It cooks up beautifully in different dishes and is very versatile.  It's a crowd-pleasing way to add more protein to salads, stir-fries, pastas, sandwiches and more.

Recipe to Try: Lemon-Sopressata Chicken

Salmon

Seared Salmon with Pesto Fettuccine

4 ounces cooked = 27 grams of protein

Salmon is one of the healthiest fishes you can eat. It's loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your heart, brain and skin. Check out our ultimate guide on how to cook salmon to help you prepare this protein-rich fish. 

Recipe to Try: Seared Salmon with Pesto Fettuccine

Shrimp

Shrimp Pad Thai Salad

4 ounces cooked = 26 grams of protein

Shrimp aren't so "shrimpy" when it comes to their protein content. Just a few ounces deliver a solid amount of protein. Try them over noodles or zoodles (made with zucchini), in tacos or go classic with shrimp cocktail. 

Recipe to Try: Shrimp Pad Thai Salad

Eggs

Soy-Sauce Eggs

1 large egg = 6 grams of protein

Eggs are a healthy vegetarian proteins source. And while lots of protein junkies reach for egg whites, there is protein and healthy nutrients in the yolk too (so don't leave it out!). Learn all our expert tips for making perfect hard-boiled eggs and don't forget to "put an egg on it" and add this power protein to grain bowls, salads and more. 

Recipe to Try: Soy-Sauce Eggs

Black beans

Black Bean, Mango & Kale Wheat Berry Salad

½ cup cooked = 8 grams of protein

Beans are a great plant-based and vegan protein source. While they are lower in protein than something like a chicken breast they also deliver fiber. Fiber helps you stay satisfied, keeps your digestive system healthy and can help you lose weight. 

Recipe to Try: Black Bean, Mango & Kale Wheat Berry Salad

Pork

Fennel Pollen & Balsamic-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Braised Fennel

3 ounces cooked = 23 grams of protein

Pork is an excellent source of many nutrients, including thiamin, niacin and riboflavin and vitamin B6, and a good source of zinc and potassium. If you're confused by what to buy at the store check out our clean-eating buyer's guide to pork.

Recipe to Try: Fennel Pollen & Balsamic-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Braised Fennel

Tuna

Tuna Salad Sandwich with Sweet Relish

4 ounces canned (drained) = 22 grams of protein

The humble can of tuna delivers a protein punch. This is a cheap and easy protein to always keep stocked in your pantry. 

Recipe to Try: Tuna Salad Sandwich with Sweet Relish

Steak

Montreal-Style Hanger Steak with Sweet Potato Frites

3 ounces cooked = 25 grams of protein

Steak is a favorite protein of lots of people. You don't need to take down a giant T-bone steak to get your protein fill, 3 ounces delivers about half your daily value. 

Recipe to Try: Montreal-Style Hanger Steak with Sweet Potato Frites

Tofu

Tofu, Snow Pea & Carrot Wild Rice Salad

½ cup = 11 grams of protein

Tofu is another plant-based vegan protein. If you think you don't like it, you may not be cooking it right. Check out our guide to cooking tofu so you'll actually like it.

Recipe to Try: Tofu, Snow Pea & Carrot Wild Rice Salad

Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter-Oat Energy Balls

2 Tbsp. = 7 grams of protein

This humble lunch staple (PB & J anyone?) is actually a healthy plant-based source of protein. Nut butters also deliver heart-healthy fats and fiber. Spread peanut butter on toast, add it to smoothies or try a fun energy ball recipe. 

Recipe to Try: Peanut Butter-Oat Energy Balls

Yogurt

Fig & Honey Yogurt

1 cup = 12 grams of protein

Depending on which type of yogurt you pick, the protein content will vary slightly. There is even more protein in Greek yogurt—23 grams per cup. Yogurt also delivers probiotics to help keep your gut healthy. 

Recipe to Try: Fig & Honey Yogurt

Quinoa

Mediterranean Chickpea Quinoa Bowl

½ cup cooked = 4 grams of protein

Quinoa is a grain that also happens to give your meals a protein boost. While 4 grams isn't quite as much as some of the other protein-packed foods on this list, it's not shabby for a ½ cup or whole grains. 

Recipe to Try: Mediterranean Chickpea Quinoa Bowl

Lentils

Slow-Cooked Moroccan Lentil Soup

1 cup lentil soup = 8 grams of protein

Like black beans, lentils are another vegan protein option. They are great in soups, curries, salads and can even give your smoothies a protein boost.

Recipe to Try: Slow-Cooked Moroccan Lentil Soup

Get More:
High-Protein Dinner Recipes
High-Protein Salad Recipes
High-Protein Breakfast Recipes

Some original reporting by Sharmin Sampat