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What are the Best Protein Sources with the Highest Amino Acids?

Best Protein Sources With The Highest Amino Acids

Not all proteins are created equally. While most of us know that protein is important for recovery and repairing muscle fibers after exercise, a nutritionist will have an in-depth perspective toward protein by looking at the amino acids within a given protein’s source.

Serious athletes who seek to optimize their recovery should do the same. That is, prioritize protein sources with the highest concentration of amino acids. Start by knowing what defines a “complete protein.” 

In simple terms, a complete protein contains all nine essential amino acids. For athletic recovery, you may want to seek protein sources with branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, as these are especially helpful for athletic recovery. 

So, what types of foods are the best protein sources with the highest amino acids? 

Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and other animal-based proteins are among the best sources of amino acids. This also includes dairy sources like whole milk and yogurt. As a vegetarian, you will find that soy, quinoa, buckwheat, etc can make for excellent sources of protein. However, animal protein is typically considered a complete protein source.

Best Protein Sources with the Highest Amino Acids

Animal proteins are generally the best protein sources as their dense with amino acids. Animal proteins are the easiest to digest and absorb. A lot of plant-based foods contain amino acids too, however, not plants offer all essential amino acids like animal proteins. This is why some of the stronger plant protein powders have a wide range of protein sources so that there’s an abundance of amino acids.

Most of the essential amino acids required to maintain body functions cannot be made by the body. Consequently, you should consume foods that contain the most amino acids as well as high-quality proteins. 

Keeping that in mind, let’s see what kinds of foods contain high amounts of protein and amino acids for your body. 


100 grams of grass-fed strip steak contain 23.1 grams of high-quality protein. Thus, you’ll meet 46% of your daily protein requirements with this amount of protein.

If you consume 100 grams of steak, you get the following types of amino acids from beef.   

Type of Amino Acid Per serving  Daily Recommendation (per 2.2 pounds)
Histidine 936 mg 14 mg
Isoleucine 1335 mg 19 mg
Leucine 2333 mg 42 mg
Lysine 2479 mg 38 mg
Methionine 764 mg 19 mg
Phenylalanine 985 mg 33 mg
Threonine 1159 mg 20 mg
Tryptophan 193 mg 5 mg
Valine 1455 mg 24 mg


Among the easiest animal proteins to digest, chicken is one of your best bets. Chicken is a high-quality protein source. Whether you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight, chicken can help you get there. 

100 grams of chicken breast has 31 grams of protein or 62 percent of your daily intake. As a result, each serving gives you the following essential amino acid.

Type of Amino Acid Per serving  Daily Recommendation 
Histidine 1195 mg 14 mg
Isoleucine 1573 mg 19 mg
Leucine 2652 mg 42 mg
Lysine 3083 mg 38 mg
Methionine 834 mg 19 mg
Phenylalanine 1294 mg 33 mg
Threonine 1438 mg 20 mg
Tryptophan 404 mg   5 mg
Valine 1660 mg 24 mg


If you are looking for a low fat but high-protein food, fish is a great choice. For example, you can eat tuna, cod, halibut, haddock, salmon, prawns or crabs. Besides the fat burning juice, adding fish to your diet can be the best protein sources for weight loss.

Salmon contains 25.4 grams of protein per 100 grams. Fresh salmon provides the following amino acids from the same serving.

Type of Amino Acid Per serving  Daily Recommendation 
Histidine 749 mg 14 mg
Isoleucine 1172 mg 19 mg
Leucine 2067 mg 42 mg
Lysine 2336 mg 38 mg
Methionine 753 mg 19 mg
Phenylalanine 993 mg 33 mg
Threonine 1115 mg 20 mg
Tryptophan 285 mg 5 mg
Valine 1310 mg 24 mg


As a whole grain, quinoa is a good source of plant-based protein foods, which is good for the body. As much as 8.1 grams of protein can be found in 185 grams of cooked quinoa per serving.  

In terms of vegetarian protein sources, you will be able to take advantage of the following highest amino acids.

Type of Amino Acid Per serving  Daily Recommendation 
Histidine 235 mg 14 mg
Isoleucine 290 mg 19 mg
Leucine 483mg 42 mg
Lysine 442mg 38 mg
Methionine 178 mg 19 mg
Phenylalanine 342mg 33 mg
Threonine 242 mg 20 mg
Tryptophan 96mg 5 mg
Valine 342mg 24 mg

So, these are the best protein sources with the highest amino acids. Amino acids are essential for maintaining healthy skin and oral health. Food sources are always the best option, despite other options available in the market like oral probiotics


What Are The 3 Most Important Amino Acids?

In the human body, leucine, isoleucine, and valine are the three most important amino acids, also known as branched-chain amino acids. These are the three most essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. There are many foods rich in these important amino acids, such as beef, chicken, eggs, and fish.

What Causes Amino Acid Deficiency?

The digestive system can cause an amino acid deficiency if proteins aren’t broken down properly. Poor diet, stress, and inherited biochemical abnormalities can all lead to it. 

Different body functions depend on amino acids. From your head to your fingertips, it has its own role to play. Basically, the body makes proteins from amino acids. In our diet, many regular foods contain amino acids. 

So, you now know where to find the best protein sources with the highest amino acids. Hopefully, you’ll be better equipped to find protein-rich foods with a high density of amino acids.

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Tyler Tafelsky Gravel Cyclist
Head of Content at Better Triathlete | Website

Endurance athlete, professional off-road cyclist, and avid blogger, Tyler Tafelsky participates in long-course multisport and cycling events. Today, Tyler competes in ultra-distance cycling races at the professional level. Since starting Better Triathlete in 2014, he has been the head of content for the site's editorial team. Learn more about Tyler