October 13, 2021 (Updated: May 21, 2022)
On the surface, it may seem a little silly that we have a list of high-protein fish and seafood. However, you should be making an effort to get your protein from a variety of sources. If protein is something that you are trying to emphasize in your diet then it makes sense that you may be wondering which fish is highest in protein. Most people who are following a standard American diet don't eat very much fish at all, so you are ahead of the game if you are looking to include seafood in your diet. We will look at a few examples of the fish and seafood that are the densest in protein so that you can put that knowledge to use when creating your own diet.
Maintaining a healthy diet can be difficult when you’re distracted by the countless online diet plans that promise to transform your body. There are many things that remain contested in the nutrition space, and one of them is how much protein is necessary for a certain outcome. Whether you’re trying to lose a bit of weight or build more muscle, you have probably heard some advice relating to your protein intake. While the amount of protein required is still up for debate, having a variety of sources of lean protein in your diet is great and promoted by our health authorities. Fish and seafood are particularly high in protein and often very low in fat. A protein-rich diet can help you build new muscle and repair torn muscles. Consuming high-protein seafood is an excellent way to increase your protein intake, and here are some of the highest protein fish available. Each protein amount is based on a 100-gram serving to make comparing them as easy as possible!
Fresh tuna has the most protein per gram of any of the seafood on this list. With 30.7g of protein, fresh tuna has the most protein by weight and is atop the list of commercially available high protein fish. This value represents the amount of protein in a 100g serving of fresh tuna, and the nutrition can vary slightly for canned tuna. Fresh tuna is also delicious, and is often enjoyed raw in the form of sushi or sashimi. Canned tuna, another viable option, is cheap and convenient and contains 25.5g of protein. Canned tuna is much more cost-friendly, has an incredibly long shelf life, doesn't require cooking, and can be used in a variety of recipes. Fresh tuna contains the most protein, but will the 5g make up for the logistical nightmare of learning how to sear a tuna steak to perfection? Tuna is also loaded with vitamin D and other essential nutrients like potassium, iron, and iodine. However, since tuna are incredibly large fish, and are high up on the aquatic food chain they tend to have high mercury levels that vary depending on the size of the species that you are eating. This is because of bioaccumulation, which is when a contaminant builds up in an organism over time. In an environment where all fish are exposed to certain levels of these contaminants, the tuna's long lifespan and eating habits cause them to build up contaminants in higher concentrations than other commonly eaten fish. Because of this, you should limit your consumption of this high-protein fish to the limits provided by health authorities like the FDA and USDA.
Octopus is very high in protein. Although it may sound unappetizing to some, the octopus has more protein than virtually any other edible marine life. It has 29.8g of protein per serving, and it’s rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It’s naturally low in fat, but it is often enjoyed in recipes that employ the use of a deep fryer... I guess anything low in fat can become high in fat if you try hard enough. If you steam or boil the octopus, you can keep the fat low and retain its nutrients. While perhaps a bit strange at first, it is a delicious meat that is usually prepared with wonderfully flavorful sauces. If it is your first time trying it, then perhaps its easier to order this high-protein seafood in a restaurant than trying to prepare it on your own.
Anchovies have a pretty potent aroma when you crack open a can, but if you can look past that, the fish boasts 28.9g of protein per 100 grams. They can also be very cheap, I bet you didn't expect to see two types of canned fish in our list of highest protein fish options. Usually, high protein means expensive, but luckily there are lots of protein-packed fish products for any budget. The sodium content of canned anchovies does tend to be high, but they do contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids. Many of us don't get enough omega-3s, and some others resort to supplements. If the high sodium doesn't bother you, then these fish can help you get more than just protein into your meals. They are a common topping on pizza, a fact that seems to be constantly referenced in popular culture. However, maybe it's just me, but I haven't seen very many pizzerias trying to get me to put anchovies on my pizza. When the time comes, I will be ready to try them, and bump up the protein content of my pizza!
Trout is a delicious fish that is relatively low in fat and contains 26.6g of protein. It is usually somewhat colorful meat, hovering between white and dark pink. Trout is a very common fish to catch while fishing in rivers and ponds, and they are naturally scattered throughout North America, northern Asia and Europe. If you are lucky enough to live in the right area, have some fishing gear, and are blessed with the skills of a natural born angler, then this means you could have a free protein meal on your hands. Of course, it's not free if you consider the time it takes to catch them. However, if you enjoy fishing then it is certainly an option! Trout is rich in minerals, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Compared to larger predatory fish near the top of the food chain, like the tuna that we discussed earlier, trout is relatively low in mercury and it’s safe to eat multiple times a week. Trout is also high in vitamins B3, B5, B6, and B12, as well as potassium, selenium, phosphorus, and niacin. Trout is commonly eaten fried, and although it is delicious, you may want to consider baking it if you are looking for a lean meal of protein.
Cooked lobster has less saturated fat, fewer calories, and lower cholesterol than equivalent portions of chicken, pork, or beef, and it has 20.3g of protein. As a lean-protein seafood, lobster is loaded with vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Lobster however can be extremely expensive. It can also be an off-putting fish to prepare, because it is sold to you while it is still alive. If you are squeamish and prefer not to be involved in killing any of the animals that you consume, then lobster may not be a great choice of high protein fish for you. On top of it all, the hard shell makes lobster a fairly difficult meat to access. In order to get that delicious high protein meat out, you are going to need some special tools called crackers and picks. A great way to prepare lobster is to steam or bake it, but try to limit the butter dipping sauce if you’re trying to lower your fat intake. You can always opt for a classic lobster roll instead or dousing your high protein meal with butter!
Like lobster, snapper is not an inexpensive seafood choice, but it has 26.3g of protein and several other nutritional benefits. It’s high in selenium, vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, and potassium. Eating more snapper can support your immune system and reduce your chances of contracting eye disorders and other diseases. Baking, marinating and grilling snapper are ideal methods to keep the fat and calories low.
Tilapia has 26.2g of protein, and it’s typically the cheapest seafood per pound on this list. Although it’s high in vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also high in omega-6 fatty acids that can increase inflammation. Health experts suggest eating farm-raised tilapia no more than two or three times a week to avoid the adverse effects of omega-6 fatty acids and to benefit from the protein and nutrients. Try using tilapia in place of beef for tacos to enjoy a meal with higher protein and less saturated fats.
With a sweet, mild flavor, grouper is an exceptional fish to add to your diet, and it has 24.8g of protein. Grouper is loaded with potassium, selenium, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. However, since it can live several years before it’s caught, the fish has high mercury levels and should not be eaten more than twice a week.
Whitefish isn't technically a particular species of fish, but instead is a grouping of a variety of fish species that all have similar meat. Whitefish meat is white in color (surprise, surprise) and is commonly used interchangeably in dishes, most notably in fish and chips. Common types include cod, haddock, hake, pollock, and whiting. Whitefish are low-fat fish with 24.5g of protein, and are typically a good source of selenium, iodine, and vitamins B6, B3, and B12. Adding whitefish to your diet can boost your immune system and reduce your chances of heart conditions. If you're looking for something a bit healthier than fish and chips, baking and grilling are great ways to enjoy whitefish.
In addition to being high in omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and potassium, mackerel is packed with 24.1g of protein. Adding the tasty fish to your diet can help you maintain your weight, protect your immune system and help with muscle recovery. Unless it’s immediately refrigerated, fresh-caught mackerel should be grilled immediately to reduce the chances of a food-borne illness.
Consuming low-fat, protein-rich seafood supports your immune system, protects you from disease, and helps manage your weight. When you’re searching for help with macro meal planning, you can visit Prospre to create a personalized meal plan using our app.