14 Impressive High-Protein Foods for Building Muscle

You probably already know that you need protein to help build muscles.

The usual suspects—steak, chicken, protein shakes—certainly deliver, but they’re far from being the only protein powerhouses.

A whole world of other high-protein foods is out there, ready to breathe new life into your muscle-building dietary routine.

Greek Yogurt

Packing nearly twice the protein of regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is a fantastic high-protein option for those looking to build muscle. It also contains probiotics, which promote gut health, and calcium for strong bones.

Enjoy Greek yogurt as a post-workout snack, or add it to smoothies and parfaits for a protein boost.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is another dairy product that offers an impressive amount of protein per serving. It’s also a great source of casein, a slow-digesting protein that can help prevent muscle breakdown during the night.

Try including cottage cheese with your breakfast, as a snack with fruit, or even in savory dishes like lasagna.


Edamame, or young soybeans, is a plant-based protein source that also provides a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Enjoy steamed edamame sprinkled with sea salt as a snack, toss it into salads, or add it to stir-fries for a muscle-building meal.


This versatile, ancient grain is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa also provides fiber, iron, magnesium, and other important nutrients.

Use it as a base for grain bowls, in place of rice in your favorite dishes, or even as a high-protein breakfast porridge.


Lentils are nutrient-dense legumes packed with protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients like iron and folate. They’re an excellent plant-based protein option for muscle building.

Add them to soups, stews, or salads, or you can even use them as a meat substitute in dishes like tacos and sloppy joes.

Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, are another protein-rich legume that can help support muscle growth. They’re also a good source of fiber and antioxidants.

Enjoy chickpeas in a variety of dishes, from hummus and falafel to salads and grain bowls.


Tofu, made from soybeans, is a versatile plant-based protein that can be used in a wide array of dishes. It’s also rich in calcium and other essential nutrients.

Try marinating and grilling tofu, adding it to stir-fries, or using it as a meat substitute in your favorite recipes.


Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it boasts a different texture and slightly higher protein content. It’s also rich in probiotics and other nutrients.

Add tempeh to your muscle-building diet by using it in stir-fries, sandwiches, or as a meat substitute.


Fish, such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, are not only high in protein but also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and support the health of your brain, heart, skin, and immune system.

Enjoy fish grilled, baked, broiled, or even raw in sushi for a tasty protein source.


Shellfish like shrimp, scallops, and crab are high-protein, low-fat options that can contribute to muscle building. They’re also packed with vitamins and minerals, including iodine, selenium, and zinc.

Dishes like seafood pasta, shrimp stir-fry, or crab salad are great ways to mix seafood with other tasty ingredients.


Chia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds are not only high in protein but also rich in heart-healthy fats and fiber.

Sprinkle these nutritional powerhouses on your salads, yogurt, or oatmeal, have them as a snack, or even use them in your baking for an added protein kick.


Eggs are a staple in muscle-building diets due to their high-quality protein content. They also contain essential vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

There are countless ways to prepare eggs for an easy protein boost—scrambling, poaching, hard-boiled, over easy, or baked, for example.


Almonds are an excellent source of plant-based protein and also provide a good dose of healthy fats, fiber, and vitamin E.

Snack on a handful of almonds, or add them to your salads, yogurt, or homemade granola for a protein-rich crunch.


This blue-green algae might be a surprising addition to the list, but spirulina is a protein-rich superfood that also offers a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Add spirulina powder to your smoothies, or try spirulina tablets as a supplement to your muscle-building diet.