11 of the best high-protein foods for weight loss

Courtney Leiva
·5 min read
quinoa kale salad
Consider using quinoa in place of pasta. joshuaraineyphotography/iStock

Losing weight can be a challenge, but eating the right food can make it more attainable.

Registered dietitian Jenn Fillenworth explained that getting high-protein foods in your diet can play a key role in any weight-loss journey.

"High-protein foods are great for recovery from exercise and also help to keep you full for longer since protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates," she said. "This is why a bowl of cereal in the morning sends you on a snack hunt way before lunch, while eggs for breakfast stay with you longer."

Read on for some of the high-protein foods dietitians recommend for weight loss.

Peanut butter is full of protein and "healthy" fats.

Peanut Butter
Try topping your whole-grain toast with peanut butter. Photo-Dave/ iStock

Peanut butter is low in carbs, and it can be a great source of protein and "healthy" fats.

"My favorite high-protein food for weight loss is peanut butter," registered dietitian nutritionist Rebecca Stib told Insider. "Per a serving (which is typically 2 tablespoons), you'll get about 8 grams of protein."

Start your day with some nutrient-dense eggs.

Scrambled Eggs
Eggs are incredibly versatile and can be eaten at any meal. robynmac / iStock

"Eggs are a great food for weight loss," Fillenworth told Insider.

They're full of vitamins and minerals, and one egg contains about 6 grams of high-quality protein with all of the essential amino acids.

Incorporate salmon into your diet.

salmon salad eating fish mediterranean diet
Salmon also has omega-3 fatty acids. iStock

"One of my absolute favorite foods for weight loss is salmon," Fillenworth told Insider.

Although salmon is a fatty fish, she explained that eating the right kind of fat doesn't necessarily mean you're going to gain weight.

The fish contains essential omega-3 fatty acids, which you have to get from your diet since the human body can't produce them.

Black beans are a great plant-based protein for weight loss.

Black beans
Black beans can also help with constipation. iStock

"My favorite plant-based protein for weight loss is the black bean," Fillenworth said.

She told Insider that in addition to being high in protein, black beans are also high in fiber, so they can help relieve constipation and bloating — which could be attributed to some weight gain.

Opt for low-calorie lean meats, like chicken breasts.

cooking chicken
Lean cuts of meat can help with weight loss. Bartosz Luczak/ iStock

"When looking for the best high-protein foods for weight loss, think low-calorie and high-quality ingredients," registered dietitian Sabrina Russo told Insider.

She said the first things that come to mind are lean meat, poultry, and fish. These are all a great source of complete protein with little carbs and fat.

Try switching from white to whole-grain carbs.

sliced bread
Choose whole grains over processed white bread. iStock

"High-protein seeds and whole-grain products are another great option," Russo told Insider.

Try incorporating whole-grain pasta or high-protein crackers into your diet, as these grains help keep you full without as many calories as processed white carbs.

Eat low-fat dairy products.

Greek Yogurt
Make sure not to get yogurt with lots of added sugar. Shutterstock

"Low-fat dairy products are also examples of high-protein foods that may be beneficial for weight loss," Russo said.

She suggested opting for plain, low-fat, or fat-free milk, yogurt, or cheese.

You can also enjoy plain yogurt with fresh berries for some natural sweetness.

Add some cottage cheese to your diet.

Cottage Cheese and Fruit
You can top your cottage cheese with fruits and nuts. Stephanie Frey / iStock

"At 23 grams of protein per cup and less than 200 calories, this protein-rich dairy product is a great addition to any meal," registered dietitian Staci Gulbin told Insider.

A cup of a lower-fat cottage cheese with 1% milk fat can even have around 28 grams of protein.

Although a serving of cottage cheese is fairly high in sodium, you can look for low-sodium or no-added-sodium brands.

Use quinoa as an alternative to rice or pasta.

quinoa
Top quinoa with vegetables for extra nutrients. Bartosz Luczak/iStock

"This gluten-free seed is a delicious and healthy alternative to rice or pasta," Gulbin told Insider.

A serving contains approximately 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of gut-friendly fiber.

Nuts are another great plant-based protein option.

Mixed nuts
Almonds are an easy on-the-go snack. Shutterstock

"Nuts are a great portable and nutritious addition to any healthy lifestyle plan," Gulbin told Insider.

Almonds, pistachios, and peanuts average around 6 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving with about 3 grams of gut-friendly fiber.

Add shrimp to your shopping list.

shrimp alfredo
Adding shrimp to any meal will bulk it up with protein. AP

"Shrimp is an extremely low-calorie filling protein," said registered dietitian Summer Yule.

It's also an excellent source of iodine, she added, which we need to support our thyroid health and manage our metabolism.

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