Ditch the protein powder and fill up on protein-rich foods for weight loss – including a number of plant-based protein options!
If you’re looking for the best foods for weight loss, you’re probably also seeking out high-protein foods. Amping up your body’s intake of protein is one of the easiest (and simplest) ways to lose weight. After all, shedding that excess weight is really all about burning more calories than you consume. So, why not consume protein-rich calories that fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied after a meal?
Protein is one of the most important nutrients for your body, and not just for building lean muscle mass. It also helps with healthy body functions (nourishing your essential organs) while also stabilizing your blood sugar and speeding up your metabolism. Protein-rich foods (like our ten favorites, which we’ll get to in a minute) also make excellent foods for weight loss. While they’re increasing satiety – so you’ll be less likely to overeat, and you’ll snack less – they’re also actively burning calories during digestion.
You see, high-protein foods are actually harder for your body to digest than carbohydrates or fats. Your body goes into a mode called thermogenesis, where it expends more energy than normal to digest foods. As a bonus, these protein-rich foods for weight loss also tend to have low levels of unhealthy fats and are lower in calories than their carbohydrate- or fat-rich counterparts.
In the end, seeking out high-protein foods for weight loss is a great strategy – you’ll give a boost to your organs and muscles while simultaneously shedding those unwanted pounds. And, before you think you have to be a meat-eater to enjoy protein, read on. There are a lot of plant-based foods for weight loss on this list, so there’s something for everyone – carnivores, omnivores, vegetarians, vegans!
Top 10 Protein Rich Foods for Weight Loss
Eggs are the poster child for protein for good reason — they contain a whopping 6 grams of protein per egg! You might be tempted to eat the egg white alone and ditch the fat-filled yolk, but consider the benefits of eating the entire egg. The yolk provides omega-3 rich fatty acids, vitamins, and immune-boosting selenium. Combined with the protein-rich egg whites, you’ll give your body a complete nutrition package. Check out these Top 10 Surprising Ways to Eat Eggs.
Many people overlook beans, but they have so many fantastic qualities. They’re not only the highest source of plant-based protein, but they’re also inexpensive and extremely versatile. Soybeans have the most protein, but white beans and other varieties also pack a protein punch. In addition to their protein content, beans also have plenty of nutrients and fiber, which means you’ll feel full and eat less. This easy Lime Rice and Beans recipe will help add some nutrients to your day.
Nuts are not only an excellent source of protein, they’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Some nuts might boast a higher calorie count, so look for the low-calorie options like cashews, pistachios, and almonds. If you’re really looking to keep the calories down, look for dry-roasted or raw nuts, avoiding salted or oiled versions. Try topping them over a salad like in this Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad.
4. Greek Yogurt
Real Greek yogurt is amazing – it contains double the protein of normal yogurts and has less sugar, too. Look for plain Greek yogurt (and be sure to check that it doesn’t have any added sugars). We would recommend avoiding fruity yogurt varieties and add your own fruit at home instead. You’ll benefit from less processed sugar and also get the nutritional benefits of fresh fruit.
If you’re worried about not being able to finish that tub of Greek yogurt, never fear. We often use Greek yogurt as a healthy substitution on this site, so you’ll get to try out a slew of new recipes! Here are 5 Protein-Packed Greek Yogurt Recipes sure to get you hooked!
If you’re looking for a meat-filled protein option, consider the humble chicken. It has the highest protein count of all poultry, and it’s leaner than beef or pork. It also happens to be extremely versatile and works with almost any cuisine, so you can fit it into any diet. That makes it an easy choice when considering foods for weight loss! This tasty 6-Ingredient Sesame Chicken recipe works great over brown rice or quinoa.
Quinoa has a superfood reputation for a reason! This little seed is a complete protein (like meat) so it contains all nine amino acids the body needs. It’s also packed full with other nutrients, making it one of the best foods for weight loss. Here are some ways to integrate quinoa into any meal.
Oats are a fantastic plant-based protein. This protein-rich grain contains little gluten, making it relatively safe for those on low-gluten diets (but, of course, not as safe as avoiding gluten entirely). It also makes a hearty and filling breakfast – just avoid smothering it with sugars and fats. This recipe for Peach, Cherry, and Almond Overnight Oats makes a fruity, healthy breakfast.
Broccoli contains eight of the nine amino acids a body needs, making it close to a complete protein. It is packed full of vitamins and potassium, as well as fiber to keep you feeling full. Consider steaming or stir-frying broccoli instead of boiling it, as many of those vitamins happen to be water-soluble. Try out this Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry for a delicious serving of protein and vitamins.
There isn’t a whole lot of bad things we can say about fish. It packs a ton of protein without all the fat and calories that red meat contains. It’s also an important source of omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid farm-raised fish if you want the most nutritional benefits. We love tuna and wild salmon because of their distinct flavors that taste great in practically any dish. Choose from our Top 10 Fresh Fish Recipes to try out some new, zesty options.
Chickpeas not only contain a ton of plant-based protein, but they’re also full of fiber, potassium, vitamins, and minerals. They makes an excellent addition to any diet, but especially a vegetarian and vegan diets. Some of the healthiest diets on the planet contain chickpeas, and you can easily add them to your favorite foods. Toss these Honey Roasted Chickpeas over a salad or have them alone as a snack!
What’s your favorite high-protein food? What are your go-to foods for weight loss? Tell us about it in the comments below.