14 Grains With The Most Protein (Complete List)

Grains are a great source of carbohydrates; certain grains can also provide you with a decent amount of protein in your diet, but the amount of protein in grains can vary greatly depending on the type.

Which grains are the highest in protein? The grain with the highest amount of protein is kamut, containing 9.85 grams of protein per 1 cup serving. Kamut is an ancient grain that can be used in pancakes and bread and has a nutty flavor. Close behind kamut are high protein grains such as teff and amaranth, with 9.75 and 9.35 grams of protein per cup.

In this article, I will discuss:

  • Why grains are a good source of protein
  • How much protein should you get from grains?
  • Protein in grains compared with alternatives
  • 14 grains with the most protein

Why Are Grains A Good Source of Protein?

Grains can be a good source of dietary protein as long as they’re whole grains because whole grains contain the germ layer, which holds most of the protein that grains offer and other essential nutrients for your health.

Whole grains are a useful protein source for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone struggling to eat enough protein.

However, it’s important to note that refined grains, like white flour and white rice, aren’t high in protein because they’ve been stripped of their germ layer during processing. 

Whole grain proteins also provide:

  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Fiber
  • Less fat than other protein sources

Vitamins & Minerals

Whole grains are a good source of protein because they are rich in B vitamins and minerals such as iron, selenium, and magnesium, which are essential for your overall health.

Fiber

Whole grains are also high in fiber, unlike animal-based proteins, which have little to no fiber. The fiber in whole grain protein sources is beneficial because it helps maintain healthy digestion, blood sugar levels, and fullness.

Less Fat Than Other Protein Sources

Grains are also a food source that is low in fat, so you don’t have to worry about consuming an overabundance of fat to hit your protein goal. The lower fat content of grains is particularly helpful if your diet requires a lower fat intake.

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How Much Protein Should You Get from Grains?

How much protein you get from grains in your diet depends on your food preferences and your macronutrient goals; however, I recommend consuming various protein sources, not just grains.

One of the main reasons for this is to help make sure that you’re consuming enough of the 9 essential amino acids found in protein. While certain grains, such as quinoa, contain all 9 essential amino acids (making it a complete protein), many grains do not contain them all (making them an incomplete protein).

Incomplete proteins don’t have all the amino acids that your body needs to use the protein effectively for muscle retention and growth and building hormones.

Another reason it could be important to consume other sources of protein is to control your carbohydrate intake because whole grains have more carbs than protein. So if you’re consuming too many whole grain proteins, you may be over-consuming carbs while still not reaching your protein goal.

To ensure you’re getting a variety of protein sources, I recommend limiting your grain sources to 1-2 servings per day and having the remainder of your protein come from other protein sources (which I will discuss more in the section below).

Protein in Grains Compared with Alternatives

Whole grains contain a decent amount of protein but are not enough to help you reach your daily protein requirements. Luckily, there are alternative food sources that are higher in protein that you can consume with whole grains to achieve your daily protein goal.

For example, while 4 ounces of cooked quinoa contains around 5 grams of protein, 4 ounces of chicken breast contains a whopping 35 grams of protein.

The chicken breast will also contain significantly fewer carbohydrates than the quinoa, making it a better option if you are trying to hit your protein intake on a lower carb diet.

You can also acquire a lot of protein from other plant based foods such as beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. 

For example, you can easily get around 17 grams of protein from 1 cup of cooked edamame, which is much more than you can get from 1 cup of cooked grains.

With this information, it can be concluded that whole grains can contribute to your daily protein intake, but you will likely need to include other high-protein food sources to meet your target.

High Protein Grains: 14 Examples

The graph below outlines the 14 types of grains with the highest amounts of protein per 1 cup serving:

TYPE OF GRAINAMOUNT OF PROTEIN (per 1 cup cooked serving)
Kamut9.85 grams
Teff9.80 grams
Amaranth9.30 grams
Quinoa8.10 grams
Farro8.00 grams
Wild Rice6.50 grams
Millet6.11 grams
Oats6.06 grams
Couscous6.00 grams
Buckwheat5.68 grams
Cornmeal5.16 grams
Basmati Rice5.00 grams
Sorghum5.00 grams
Barley3.60 grams

1. Kamut

Kamut

Kamut is an ancient grain that is known for its rich and nutty flavor. It can be used in the same way as conventional wheat in bread, cereals, baking, pasta, and beer.

Not only does kamut offer an excellent source of protein, but it is also high in zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, thiamin, niacin, and fiber. 

Kamut is also known for being more easily digested than conventional wheat, so it may be a good option for anyone sensitive to conventional wheat products.

The easiest way to incorporate kamut into your diet is by using kamut flour, as you would typically use conventional flour. You could use it in a protein pancake recipe or other baked goods.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories- 227 Calories
  • Protein- 9.85 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 47 grams
  • Fat- 1.4 grams

 2. Teff

Teff

Teff is another type of ancient grain that has been in the human diet for thousands of years. Teff can be used in baked goods, porridge, bread, and as a thickener in soups.

Teff is a high protein grain that is especially high in the amino acid known as lysine, which helps your body to convert energy, form collagen, and lower cholesterol levels. It is also high in minerals like iron and calcium.

Unlike many grains, teff is naturally gluten-free, which makes it a fantastic option for those with severe gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

If you want to incorporate teff into your diet, try this Banana Almond Teff Porridge recipe.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories– 255 calories
  • Protein- 9.80 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 50 grams
  • Fat- 2 grams

3. Amaranth

Amaranth

Amaranth is an ancient grain that is light in color and can be used as a seed, blended into flour, cooked in water, or popped like popcorn for a salad topping. 

Amaranth is another type of grain that is naturally gluten-free, making it a popular choice for gluten-free individuals.

One of the ways that you can try this delicious grain in your diet to boost your protein intake is by making an Amaranth Pilaf.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories– 251 calories
  • Protein- 9.3 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 46 grams
  • Fat- 5 grams

4. Quinoa

Quinoa

Quinoa is a great source of plant-based protein because it is a complete protein (meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids), which is important if you are trying to hit your protein target on a vegetarian or a vegan diet.

Quinoa is also a great source of antioxidants, which help to reduce the risk of many types of diseases and fight any free radicals in the body. Other nutrients that quinoa has to offer are vitamin E, manganese, iron, and folate.

This high-protein grain is extremely versatile and can be used in salads, soups, and porridge. You can even use quinoa flour for baked goods if you need gluten-free flour since quinoa is naturally gluten-free.

Try this recipe for a Lemon Chicken Quinoa Soup to incorporate more of this high-protein grain into your diet.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories- 222 calories
  • Protein- 8.10 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 39 grams
  • Fat- 3.55 grams

5. Farro

Farro

Farro is an ancient wheat grain that is one of the first grains ever to be incorporated into the human diet. Since it is a wheat grain, it is not gluten-free and therefore unsuitable for anyone with Celiac Disease.

However, for those who can have wheat products, farro can be a great source of phytonutrients and antioxidants. It also contains twice the amount of fiber per serving in comparison to conventional wheat, making it great for stabilizing blood sugar levels and encouraging healthy digestion.

To learn more about how to cook farro properly and use it as a high-protein food source in your diet, I recommend this handy article on How to Cook Farro.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories- 258 calories
  • Protein- 8 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 52 grams
  • Fat- 2 grams

6. Wild Rice

Wild rice

If you are a rice lover and are trying to increase your protein intake, you should incorporate as much wild rice as possible. Compared to many other forms of rice, wild rice contains an ample amount of protein at 6.5 grams for 1 cup.

Wild rice is also relatively low in carbs and calories compared to some of the other high protein grains discussed in this article, making it a great option if you have a lower caloric intake.

Wild rice is an excellent source of nutrients such as iron, potassium, and selenium and can be highly versatile in your meals. Try using your wild rice in a bake such as this Chicken and Wild Rice Bake to meet your protein targets for the day deliciously.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories- 166 calories
  • Protein- 6.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates– 35 grams
  • Fat- 0.6 grams

7. Millet

Millet

Millet is a common grain used in products such as bread, cereal, porridge, or cooked on its own. It is also an excellent grain choice for anyone with blood sugar issues since it is considered a low glycemic index food and takes longer for your body to digest than conventional wheat.

Millet is also high in insoluble fiber, making it a good source of nutrients for the good gut bacteria in your digestive system. Having healthy amounts of insoluble fiber (also known as prebiotics) is crucial to maintaining healthy bacteria in your gut.

You can use millet as flour for baked goods or even use puffed millet to replace your regular cereal. You can also use millet in a side dish, such as a millet salad.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories- 204 calories
  • Protein- 6.11 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 41 grams
  • Fat- 1.75 grams

8. Oats

Oats

Oats are a common grain that can be used in various ways. Oats can come in a raw “steel cut” form, flattened and made into “rolled” oats, or processed further to make “quick” oats. You can even use oats as flour in baked goods such as pancakes, muffins, or cookies.

Oats are naturally gluten-free; however, if you have celiac disease, you should shop for certified gluten-free oats since regular oats can be contaminated with gluten and wheat products during processing.

One of the most common ways to utilize oats is in hot porridge, but a new popular way to eat this high-protein grain is in Overnight Oats.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories- 166 calories
  • Protein- 6.06 grams
  • Carbohydrates– 28.1 grams
  • Fat- 3.6 grams

9. Couscous

Couscous

Couscous is a high protein grain that is typically eaten as a side dish and is a staple in North African cooking. It has a neutral flavor, which allows you to add the flavor of your choosing through sauces and spices.

Adding couscous into your diet will provide you with the nutrient selenium, which is great for decreasing inflammation and repairing cells in the body.

You cook couscous like most grains by boiling water (or a broth) and stirring in the couscous until it has absorbed all of the liquid and becomes fluffy.

Try following a simple recipe for couscous as a side dish like this one. Or use it as a replacement for oats in a morning porridge recipe.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories- 177 calories
  • Protein- 6.0 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 36.5 grams
  • Fat- 0.3 grams

10. Buckwheat

Buckwheat

Although its name might make it seem like this is a grain containing gluten, buckwheat is a naturally gluten-free grain. It is also high in fiber and other minerals like magnesium, copper, manganese, and phosphorus.

Buckwheat flour is commonly used in gluten-free baking and provides a more earthy flavor than standard gluten-free flour blends. Buckwheat flour is found in most health food stores and some conventional grocery stores.

I highly recommend trying buckwheat flour in pancakes. Try this Easy Fluffy Buckwheat Pancake recipe to see if this high protein grain is one you want to make a regular staple in your diet.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories- 155 calories
  • Protein- 5.68 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 34 grams
  • Fat- 1 gram

11. Cornmeal

Cornmeal

Cornmeal is a type of grain used to make foods such as cornbread, fritters, and a dish known as polenta. Cornmeal is also high in fiber, which is beneficial for healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.

While this grain is great for anyone on a gluten-free diet, it is important to remember that some people can have an intolerance to corn and corn products as well. Take note of how you feel after consuming cornmeal or any corn products to see if you can tolerate it.

One of the most popular ways to consume cornmeal is in cornbread. Try this simple Cornbread recipe to incorporate more of this high-protein grain into your diet.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories- 221 calories
  • Protein- 5.16 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 47 grams
  • Fat- 2.2 grams

12. Basmati Rice

Basmati Rice

Similar to wild rice, basmati rice has a higher protein content than other rice types. This grain is also known for being quite fragrant and having a smell that is similar to popcorn.

Basmati rice has also been shown to have amazing health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and even reducing your risk of colorectal cancer.

When cooking basmati rice, the ratio of 1.5 cups of water or broth for every 1 cup of rice. It is most commonly eaten as a side dish but can also be used in stir-fries and soups.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories- 210 calories
  • Protein- 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates– 46 grams
  • ·Fat- 0.5 grams

13. Sorghum

Sorghum

With the same amount of protein per 1 cup as basmati rice, sorghum packs a nice amount of protein along with other essential micronutrients such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamin, niacin, and manganese.

Sorghum is high in tannins, which has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Sorghum is also a gluten-free grain, making it an excellent option for those who avoid gluten. 

However, it is important to note some people are allergic to sorghum so take note of how you feel when you’re eating it for the first time.

Sorghum can be fairly simple to cook since you only need water and salt. Try having this high protein grain as a side dish at one of your meals as an alternative to rice or quinoa to add variety to your diet.

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories- 163 calories
  • Protein– 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 36 grams
  • Fat- 2 grams

14. Barley

Barley

While barley may not have as much protein per serving as the other grains mentioned above, the amount it does contain will still help you to meet your daily protein target.

Barley can be used in soups, stews, or as a side dish. The health benefits of  eating barley include improved digestion (due to its high fiber content), lowered cholesterol levels, and colon cancer prevention.

Try this Crockpot Beef Barley Soup for your next meal prep to add more of this grain into your diet

Macronutrient breakdown per 1 cup serving:

  • Calories- 193 calories
  • Protein- 3.6 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 44 grams
  • Fat- 0.7 grams

Frequently Asked Questions

What Grain Has More Protein Than Quinoa?

Kamut has more protein than quinoa, containing around 9.85 grams of protein per 1 cup cooked. Kamut is also high in zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium and is known for being more easily digested than conventional wheat. You can cook Kamut as a whole grain or use it as flour in baked goods.

Which Ancient Grain Has The Most Protein?

The ancient grain that contains the most protein per serving is Kamut, at 9.85 grams per 1 cup. Right behind Kamut is the ancient grain teff, a gluten-free grain containing 9.80 grams of protein per 1 cup. Amaranth is an ancient grain that is also high in protein, at 9.3 grams per 1 cup.

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About The Author

COLBY ROY

Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.