High-protein, low-carb eating plans are all the rage right now in the nutrition world, from the keto diet to the paleo diet to Whole30.
And for good reason: High-protein, low-carb diets have been shown to help with weight loss. Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating high-protein meals — containing about 30 grams of protein — throughout the day stimulated greater muscle protein synthesis. We’re talking gains, people. “The general recommendation for protein intake is between .8 g- 1.2 g per kilogram of body weight,” says Sandra J. Arevalo, MPH, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Of course, you’ll need more protein to maintain muscular and lean mass.”
Of course, if you’re looking to follow a high-protein, low-carb diet, it’s important not to totally cut out carbs. “Going high-protein, low-carb often means people are cutting out variety of foods from their diet and therefore not meeting all their other dietary needs,” says Arevalo. “It’s always important to fill half your plate with veggies.”
Ready to stock your fridge? Here are 20 high-protein, low-carb foods to help you stick to your diet.
“They’re quick to cook and inexpensive,” says Arevalo. Plus, they’re super versatile: try them hard boiled, deviled, or in an omelet.
Per one whole, large egg: 72 cal, 5 g fat (2 g sat), 0.4 g carbs, 0.2 g sugar, 71 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 7 g protein.
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“Besides the nice amount of protein, milk is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D,” says Arevalo. (If you’re on the restrictive keto diet, just be sure you don’t overdo it.)
Per 1-cup serving (low-fat): 101 cal, 3 g fat (1 g sat), 12 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 106 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 8 g protein.
“Cheese sticks are perfect for on-the-go breakfast and snacks. Plus they’re low fat,” says Arevalo.
Per cheese stick: 50 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g sat), 1 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 160 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 6 g protein.
“Although more ‘fatty’ than other meats, slamon is full of the good fats omega 3 and 6,” says Arevalo. (Here’s how to cook your salmon perfectly in 10 minutes.)
Per 3-oz serving: 177 cal, 11 g fat (3 g sat), 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 50 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 17 g protein.
“Greek yogurt is packed with protein and is perfect for breakfast, snack time or dessert,” says Arevalo. But watch out for added sugars—stick with plain instead.
Per one 7-oz container (plain, low-fat): 146 cal, 4 g fat (3 g sat), 8 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 68 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 20 g protein.
“Dry roasted peanuts offer a good amount of protein, plus a great amount of fiber,” says Arevalo.
Per 1.5 oz. serving: 250 cal, 10 g fat (3g sat), 9 g carbs, 174 mg, 4 g fiber, 10 g protein.
“Nuts are an excellent source of protein. Compared to peanuts, almonds have more fat, so pay attention to portion size,” says Arevalo.
Per 1.5 oz serving: 254 cal, 18 g fat (1 g sat), 8 g carbs (2 g net), 2 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 9 g protein.
Whey Protein Powder
“I love whey protein powder. It’s high in protein and low in carbs (depending on sugar content), and great in smoothies where you can add in other veggies and fruit,” says Arevalo. (With so many options on the market, you can pick the one that fits for you.)
Per 1 tbsp. serving: 45 cal, 2 g fat, 2g carb, .6g sugar, 36 mg sodium, .8 fiber, 5 g protein.
“Seafood is usually a great pick for high-protein, low-carb diets. I like shrimp because they cook quickly and are low in calories for the amount of protein they pack,” says Arevalo. (Try one of these keto-approved shrimp recipes.)
Per 3 oz serving: 84 cal, 22 g carb, .2 g carb, 0 g sugar, 94 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 20 g protein.
“Pinto beans are relatively low in calories for the amount of fiber and protein you get,” says Arevalo.
Per 1/2 cup serving: 122 cal, .6 g fat, .3 g sugar, 203 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 8 g protein.
“Lentils are packed with protein and fiber. I love them in soups,” says Arevalo.
Per 1/2 cup serving (cooked): 230 cal, 0.8 g fat (3 g sat), 40 g carbs (24 g net), 4 g sugar, 4 mg sodium, 16 g fiber, 18 g protein.
“Although chicken breasts may be lower in fat, chicken thighs have the same amount of protein and lots of flavor,” says Arevalo.
Per 3 oz. serving: 393 cal, 37 g fat (10 g sat), 0 g carb, 0 g sugar, 0g fiber, 14 g protein
“Boiled or raosted, they;re the perfect snack packed with plant protein,” says Arevalo.
Per 1-cup serving: 188 cal, 8 g fat (1 g sat), 14 g carbs (6 g net), 3 g sugar, 9 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 18 g protein.
“Deli turkey is the perfect lunchtime protein option,” says Arevelo.
Per 2-oz serving: 62 cal, 0.5 g fat (0.1 g sat), 2 g carbs (1.7 g net), 2 g sugar, 440 mg sodium, 0.3 g fiber, 12 g protein.
“These are so versatile–you can roast them or make your own hummus,” says Arevalo.(Try one of these hummus recipes.)
Per 1/2 cup serving: 176 cal, 3.5 g fat, 29 g carb, 5 g sugar, 311 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 9 g protein.
“Be careful to stick with portions–although peanut butter is packed with good fat, fat is fat,” says Arevalo.
Per 2-Tbsp. serving: 187 cal, 12 g fat (2 g sat), 13 g carbs (11 g net), 3 g sugar, 194 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 10 g protein.
“It’s low in fat and packed with protein,” says Arevalo. Seriously, what guy doesn’t love beef jerky? (Here are 10 brands we love.)
Per 1-oz serving (beef): 116 cal, 7 g fat (3 g sat), 3 g carbs (2.5 g net), 3 g sugar, 506 mg sodium, 0.5 g fiber, 9 g protein.
“I love vegetarian meat substitutes—they’re great sources of protein,” says Arevalo.
Per 1/2 cup serving: 142 cal, 8 g fat, 4 g carb, 2 mg sodium, .6 g fiber, 12 g protein.
“Black beans are awesome sources of plant protein and have tons of fiber,” says Arevalo. She’s a huge fan of black bean burgers.
Per 1/2 cup serving canned beans low sodium: 109 cal, 0.4 g fat (0 g sat), 20 g carbs, 0.3 g sugar, 166 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 7 g protein.
“Apart from the protein, tuna is low in saturated fat and is a great source of B vitamins,” says Arevalo. (Canned is the perfect pick for lunch—try this healthy tuna salad recipe.)
Per 3 oz serving: 73 cal, 0.8 g fat (0 g sat), 0 g carbs, 210 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 17 g protein.
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