Protein is a nutrient essential for maintaining your muscle mass, keeping your immune system strong and allowing vital reactions to occur in your body. Most American adults get more protein than necessary, but you may have reason to focus on your intake if you need to gain weight or if you are a hard-training athlete. Plenty of foods provide about 30 grams of protein in a serving and also have other essential nutrients.
Meat and Poultry
A 3-ounce serving of skinless chicken breast provides 29 grams of protein, similar to the amount in the same-size serving of ground beef; pork or beef sirloin or loin; white-meat turkey; or other fresh, lean meats. Fresh meat and poultry are higher in protein and lower in sodium than processed choices such as sausages or luncheon meats. Lean beef and pork and white-meat poultry are lower in calories and cholesterol-raising saturated fat than fatty cuts of meat or poultry with the skin.
Fish is an excellent source of protein, and a 3-ounce serving of salmon, canned tuna, trout, sardines and most other fish has at least 20 grams of protein. To get 30 grams of protein from fish, you can have a slightly larger portion or have your fish with another source of protein, such as pasta, with 5 grams of protein per cup. Fatty fish provide long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which may lower your risk for heart disease, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Egg whites are free of carbohydrates and fat, and a cup of egg whites has 27 grams of protein. Soy nuts or roasted soybeans provide 34 grams of protein per half cup. A cup of cottage cheese has 28 grams of protein and also 14 milligrams of calcium, or 14 percent of the daily value. Fat-free yogurt, milk and cheese provide about 8 to 15 grams of protein per serving, and beans and lentils have about 10 to 14 grams of protein per cup.
Protein bars, ready-to-drink shakes and protein powders often supply at least 30 grams of protein per serving, and they are convenient because they are portable and easy to store and use. Many come in sweet flavors, such as chocolate or vanilla, which makes them a sweet alternative to other protein sources like meat. Fortified protein supplements are rich in essential vitamins and minerals but should be only a small part of a balanced diet and not a substitute for fresh, healthy foods.