If you're trying to lose weight, it turns out that including protein-rich foods into your diet can be quite valuable. That's partially because protein is more filling than carbs (although, gram for gram, they deliver the same number of calories), but also because protein slows the digestion of carbohydrates, which in turn prolongs the energy release that you get from eating carbs.
There's another benefit to eating protein when you're trying to drop pounds, too: It may help you eat less food later in the day. A study published in Nutritional Journal found that women who ate a high-protein breakfast were more satisfied after their meal and ate fewer calories at lunch, compared to women who ate less protein at breakfast.
Make no mistake, though. Protein is not a miraculous fat- and calorie-burning nutrient. It's a lot simpler than that. Protein helps with weight loss because it fills you up and staves off hunger, and that combination makes it easier for you to stick to a reduced-calorie diet. Which, ultimately, is how you slim down.
So with that said, here are 5 healthy, protein-packed foods to keep around so you can easily up the amount of protein in your diet.
One whole egg delivers 6 grams of protein, so buying pre-boiled varieties eggs means you'll always have an easy go-to protein option. "While there are a variety of protein-rich options for the morning, I'm partial to Pete and Gerry's Hard-Boiled Eggs because they're insanely convenient—simply open a bag to enjoy a quality food—and rich in protein along with a variety of important vitamins and minerals, like lutein, vitamin E, and many others," says Chris Mohr, PhD, RD, of MohrResults.com. "Pete and Gerry's eggs are also free range and certified humane, and for consumers who want an organic option, they offer that as well."
Incorporate this protein into your diet with: Foolproof Hard-Boiled Eggs
A 1-ounce serving of salmon jerky has about 12 grams of protein and clocks in at less than 100 calories. But beyond the protein content, there's another great reason salmon is a great option when you're dieting. Research suggests that adding fish protein to a reduced-calorie diet may help dieters lose more body fat than if they weren't including fish protein in their diet. If jerky's not your thing, you can also just go with plain ol' salmon. A 4-ounce portion packs about 30 grams of protein.
Incorporate this protein into your diet with: 100 Ways to Cook with Salmon
Whisps Parmesan Cheese Crisps
This high protein, low carb snack is a great option for that on-the-go person. One serving has 13 grams of protein and only 1 gram of carbohydrates. "I like snacks that are simple, flavorful, and without tons of additives. These are just that—100% real cheese with just 1 ingredient: Cheese!" says Mohr. And if you think cheese (or other full-fat dairy) is taboo on a diet, think again. An Irish study found that folks who ate more dairy actually had lower BMIs.
Incorporate this protein into your diet with: Parmesan Crisps
There are so many nut options! But here's the best news: It doesn't matter which type of nuts you eat so long as you add some to your diet. That's because a new study published September 2019 in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention, & Health found that when people make nuts a regular part of their diet, they're less likely to gain weight in the long term. In the study, regular nut eaters gained only 1/2 a pound of weight each year, while more occasional nut eaters gained a pound a year. The study also found that nut eaters lowered their risk of becoming obese. How does this information benefit you? Well, you only need to add a small handful of nuts to your daily routine to experience results. In the study, researchers found that nut eaters were reaping great benefits with as little as a half serving added into their daily diet.
Incorporate this protein into your diet with: Creative Ways to Cook With Nuts
Soybeans are incredibly high in protein compared to other legumes. And, in case you didn't know, edamame are soybeans. Just half a cup of edamame (in their pods) contain 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Swapping your animal protein for plant protein such as edamame has other benefits, too: Research shows that people who opt for a vegetarian diet to lose weight are not only more successful at losing weight, but it's also easier for them to keep the weight off.