It can be very difficult to get the right amount of protein in your diet and it gets even harder when you are trying to be efficient with your protein intake, both from a caloric and financial point of view. So, I have created a list of some foods I recently ate, order by their “purity” of protein. This chart has way too much information but creates a lot of interesting relationships between protein (also other macro-nutrients) and things like ketogenic ratio, net calories, fullness factor, and even gives an arbitrary rating for overall value based on cost. I have also provided a download link where you can add your own foods and play around with the varying costs of those foods.
As we know, protein and carbohydrates have approximately 4 calories per gram, where fat has around 9 calories per gram. This becomes important when you are trying to diet (i.e. maintain a calorie deficit) while still getting enough protein. For example, if someone’s main source of protein comes from nuts, they would likely not be able to stay in a calorie deficit, nor would they feel full if all they ate was almonds for protein (more on fullness factor later). With a protein target of 1g per pound of body fat, a 200 pound person trying to lose weight would end up eating over 5000 calories in almonds to get 200g of protein because almonds have approximately 26 calories per each gram of protein, a protein purity of under 15%.
On the other hand, if the same person were to only eat chicken as their source of protein, they would just need to eat around 800 calories of chicken; perhaps 3 half-pound chicken breasts would do the trick. The rest of the calories should go to fats and carbs to provide satiety.
The highest purity protein food I was able to find was whey protein isolate. Based on price the best deal I have found was at Canadian Protein. They offer unflavored variants, if you are avoiding artificial sweeteners which is a bonus. At the claimed 122 calories per 29g, that is about 95% pure protein!
Eating high protein foods also has the benefit of reducing the overall calories “absorbed” by your body due to the thermic effect where energy is required for your body to digest the macronutrients. It is generally accepted that protein requires between 20-35% of it’s calories to be digested. I have added some approximations to the chart below on both the high and low end. It also seems that the myth that celery will provide you with a net loss of calories is untrue based on these calculations.
Finally, I have added a few other “advanced” columns that are not quite as self explanatory. Ketogenic ratio targets over 1.5 are generally used to maintain a ketonic state in the body but the problem with protein is that is it mostly antiketogenic (46 ketogenic/54 antiketogenic split). Fat is 90% ketogenic, and carbs are 100% anti-ketogenic.
I will not debate the merits of a keto-diet here but since it is included in the chart, I wanted to touch on the formula derivation. It is also important to consider that certain foods make us feel more full compared to others. The column for fullness factor is derived from this formula (but not completely accurate), for the most part, a higher number is better:
FF=MAX(0.5, MIN(5.0, 41.7/CAL^0.7 + 0.05PR + 6.17E-4DF^3 – 7.25E-6*TF^3 + 0.617))
where CAL is total Calories per 100g
PR is grams Protein per 100g
DF is grams Dietary Fiber per 100g
(12 maximum), and
TF is grams total Fat per 100g
The Macro-nutrient chart
Without further ado, here is the chart:
|Name||Portion Size (g)||Total Calories||Protein (g)||Calories from protein||Calories/Protein g||% protein||Fat (g)||Cal. From fat||% Fat||Carbs (g)||Fiber (g)||Sugar (g)||Cal. From carbs||% Carbs||Total calories calculated||Unaccounted calories||Accuracy based on macronutrients||Ketogenic Ratio||Min Effective Calories (after thermic effect)||Max Effective Calories (after thermic effect)||Approximate average Calories after thermic effect||Approximate calorie reduction through thermic effect||Net calorie %||Calories after thermic effect per gram||Fullness Factor Higher is better||Price||Quantity (g or mL)||$ per protein g||Protein grams per dollar||Arbitrary protein ratio per dollar|
|Protein isolate Premium Whey||30||122||29||116||4.21||95.08%||0||0||0.00%||0.5||0||0||2.05||2%||118.05||3.95||96.76%||0.77||79.72||97.92||88.82||-33.18||73%||2.96||6.07||$ 70.00||2270||$ 0.03||31.35||29.81|
|Chicken breast||100||110||23.09||92.36||4.76||83.96%||1.24||11.656||10.60%||0||0||0||0||0%||104.016||5.984||94.56%||0.87||75.57||90.47||83.02||-26.98||75%||0.83||3.32||$ 3.50||454||$ 0.03||29.95||25.15|
|Tilapia||100||96||20.08||80.32||4.78||83.67%||1.7||15.98||16.65%||0||0||0||0||0%||96.3||-0.3||100.31%||0.91||67.66||79.99||73.82||-22.18||77%||0.74||3.33||$ 8.00||454||$ 0.09||11.40||9.53|
|Rockfish||113.398||137||27.2||108.8||5.04||79.42%||2.3||21.62||15.78%||0||0||0||0||0%||130.42||6.58||95.20%||0.91||96.54||114.14||105.34||-31.66||77%||0.93||3.27||$ 6.00||454||$ 0.06||18.15||14.41|
|Shrimp||100||144||27.59||110.36||5.22||76.64%||2.35||22.09||15.34%||1.24||0||0||5.084||4%||137.534||6.466||95.51%||0.85||102.30||120.62||111.46||-32.54||77%||1.11||3.28||$ 9.00||454||$ 0.07||13.92||10.67|
|Greek Yogurt||227||140||24||96||5.83||68.57%||0||0||0.00%||10||0||7||41||29%||137||3||97.86%||0.46||99.38||118.28||108.83||-31.17||78%||0.48||3.47||$ 5.00||500||$ 0.09||10.57||7.25|
|Cottage cheese (fat free)||116||90||14||56||6.43||62.22%||0||0||0.00%||7||0||5||28.7||32%||84.7||5.3||94.11%||0.43||64.60||76.57||70.59||-19.41||78%||0.61||3.20||$ 3.00||500||$ 0.05||20.11||12.52|
|Pork Tenderloin||100||136||20.54||82.16||6.62||60.41%||5.41||50.854||37.39%||0||0||0||0||0%||133.014||2.986||97.80%||1.15||105.56||119.20||112.38||-23.62||83%||1.12||2.98||$ 4.00||454||$ 0.04||23.31||14.08|
|Salmon||100||146||21.62||86.48||6.75||59.23%||5.93||55.742||38.18%||0||0||0||0||0%||142.222||3.778||97.41%||1.16||113.78||128.24||121.01||-24.99||83%||1.21||2.97||$ 8.00||454||$ 0.08||12.27||7.27|
|Skim Milk||250||86||8.35||33.4||10.30||38.84%||0.44||4.136||4.81%||11.88||0||8.35||48.708||57%||86.244||-0.244||100.28%||0.25||66.98||76.91||71.94||-14.06||84%||0.29||4.29||$ 4.00||4000||$ 0.03||33.40||12.97|
|Egg (Large)||50||74||6.29||25.16||11.76||34.00%||4.97||46.718||63.13%||0.38||0||0.38||1.558||2%||73.436||0.564||99.24%||1.63||63.95||68.85||66.40||-7.60||90%||1.33||2.50||$ 2.50||600||$ 0.03||30.19||10.27|
|Broccoli||100||34||2.82||11.28||12.06||33.18%||0.37||3.478||10.23%||6.46||2.6||1.7||26.486||78%||41.244||-7.244||121.31%||0.20||23.13||31.05||27.09||-6.91||80%||0.27||4.30||$ 2.00||454||$ 0.16||6.40||2.12|
|1% Milk||250||102||8.22||32.88||12.41||32.24%||2.37||22.278||21.84%||12.18||0||12.69||49.938||49%||105.096||-3.096||103.04%||0.34||83.13||93.19||88.16||-13.84||86%||0.35||3.89||$ 4.00||4000||$ 0.03||32.88||10.60|
|Cooked Lentils||125||120||9||36||13.33||30.00%||0||0||0.00%||20||8||2||82||68%||118||2||98.33%||0.16||78.41||108.51||93.46||-26.54||78%||0.75||2.85||$ 2.00||454||$ 0.06||16.34||4.90|
|Celery||100||14||0.69||2.76||20.29||19.71%||0.17||1.598||11.41%||2.97||1.6||1.83||12.177||87%||16.535||-2.535||118.11%||0.14||8.90||13.02||10.96||-3.04||78%||0.11||7.23||$ 2.00||454||$ 0.64||1.57||0.31|
|Sweet Red Pepper||100||26||0.99||3.96||26.26||15.23%||0.3||2.82||10.85%||6.03||2||4.2||24.723||95%||31.503||-5.503||121.17%||0.11||18.45||24.33||21.39||-4.61||82%||0.21||4.93||$ 2.00||454||$ 0.44||2.25||0.34|
|Almond milk||250||40||1.51||6.04||26.49||15.10%||3.58||33.652||84.13%||1.4||0.8||0.34||5.74||14%||45.432||-5.432||113.58%||1.49||35.38||38.68||37.03||-2.97||93%||0.15||6.63||$ 2.00||1000||$ 0.33||3.02||0.46|
|Almond||1.2||7||0.26||1.04||26.92||14.86%||0.61||5.734||81.91%||0.24||0.1||0.06||0.984||14%||7.758||-0.758||110.83%||1.48||6.25||6.77||6.51||-0.49||93%||5.43||1.59||$ 8.00||454||$ 0.08||12.30||1.83|
|Avacado oil||14||130||0||0||#DIV/0!||0.00%||14||131.6||101.23%||0||0||0||0||0%||131.6||-1.6||101.23%||9.00||127.40||130.00||128.70||-1.30||99%||9.19||-6.28||$ 10.00||1000||#DIV/0!||0.00||0.00|
Other protein intake considerations affecting efficiency
Note that prices will vary depending on your location and market. I have used the lowest price I was able to find for the given foods at grocery stores in the Greater Toronto Area, or in the case of protein isolate, Canadian retailers online.
I realize that this chart does not display properly. I am considering working out a method to best share my spreadsheet, hopefully so that people can update it with foods and prices they paid, etc. I got most of my nutritional data from fatsecret.com as they offer values to at least 2 significant digits in most cases. In the interim, you can download the spreadsheet for yourself.
Download Macronutrient Worksheet.