7 Foods Better than a Chicken Breast

We’re totally on team chicken breast. It’s incredibly lean! It’s got a ton of filling protein! But every once in a while, you might get bored of chowing down on the same old bird. Switching things up will prevent dinner boredom and ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients into your weekly meals. So when you can’t stomach one more piece of grilled poultry, go for these seven high-protein picks that beat out the 31 g of protein that each 3.5 oz chicken breast contains.


This eco-friendly, low-mercury fish is often found around Northern Australia. A portion that’s just over 6 ounces will net you more than 31 g of protein. It’s also an impressive source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. “I always have some in my freezer,” says Virginia-based Jill Weisenberger, RDN, CDE, author of The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition. “The beauty of frozen fish fillets is that they defrost so quickly in a bowl of cold water. Once I’m out of my work clothes and ready to cook, the fillets are ready for me, too.”

Cottage Cheese

A big bowl of cottage cheese (about 1¼ cups) offers up 35 g of protein. “This is a great option because it’s so versatile,” says Weisenberger. Go sweet by mixing in fruit and nuts, or savory with tomatoes, fresh basil, and a few cracks of black pepper, she suggests. To pick the best-for-you brand, says Weisenberger, look for those without fillers like modified food starch to get the most protein per serving.

Green Smoothie

You can make a protein-enhanced meal-replacement smoothie—no protein powder required—by throwing the following into a blender: 1 cup soymilk, 1 oz pistachios, 1 oz hemp seeds, 1 cup spinach, and 1 banana, says Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of Plant-Powered for Life. You’ll top out at 31 g of protein, plus you’ll get a dose of veggies, healthful monounsaturated fatty acids, and omega-3s, plus complex carbs. Now that’s a power drink.

Roast Beef

Eat a 6 oz serving and you’ll get around 36 g of protein for 240 calories. “The key is to choose high quality options. Deli meats should include nothing more than the meat and seasonings,” says Weisenberger. (One great option is Applegate Farms.) Six ounces makes for a mega sammie, though. Instead, roll slices up with mustard or hummus and cheese and crunchy veggie strips. Who needs the bread?


A half-cup of seitan—a plant-based protein derived from wheat gluten—contains about 31.5 g of protein. “It takes on the seasonings it’s prepared with and often mimics the taste of meat or chicken dishes,” says McKittrick. While seitan doesn’t contain all of the essential amino acids that animal protein does, you can make up for that simply by eating a balanced diet throughout the day, she says. (Also, it probably goes without saying, but avoid seitan if you are gluten-sensitive.)


Go for these satiating shellfish. Six ounces of raw shrimp (12 to 18 large shrimp) ring up at 144 calories and 34 g of protein, says Martha McKittrick, RD, a nutritionist in New York City and blogger at City Girl Bites. “It’s also a myth that you have to avoid shrimp if you have high cholesterol,” she says. Rather than bathed in butter, enjoy them dipped in cocktail sauce to keep calories low.

Stir-Fry Tofu

Toss together 3 oz superfirm tofu, 1 cup chopped broccoli, 1 oz almonds, and 1 cup cooked wheat berries for 36 g of protein, says Palmer. The tofu is the heavy hitter here, supplying 11 g of protein, but even broccoli offers some (nearly 3 g!)