These high-protein, low-carb foods will help you stay fuller for longer—and could ultimately help you lose weight.
The benefits of high-protein, low carb foods
High-protein, low-carb foods have become popular, thanks to trendy diets like ketogenic, paleo, and Atkin’s. And the reason why this type of diet—eating foods higher in one macronutrient and lower in another—works for some people comes down to the fullness factor.
“Typically, protein-rich foods take longer to digest,” says Kristen Smith, RD, an Atlanta-based dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “So increasing your consumption of protein-rich foods, increases satiety, and can, therefore, aid in weight-loss because you can become more satisfied by eating less food.” Also, by eating fewer carbs, your body can learn to burn more fat as fuel, while excessive carb intake can cause your body to store more fat, Smith explains. Start your day with these high-protein breakfasts to help you lose weight.
Research also shows that a low-carb diet can help increase your daily energy expenditure (or calories burned) when looking to maintain weight loss. And studies back up the fact that eating plans high in protein can increase satiety and help control the number on the scale.
But two important caveats come up when you turn mostly to high-protein, low-carb foods. For starters, you still need to pay attention to saturated fat—too much is bad for heart health—and those with kidney disease should probably avoid this plan, Smith says.
Also, without many carbs in your diet, you might start craving ingredients like pasta, bread, and potatoes. “If you follow a diet and it provides results but leaves you feeling unsatisfied or craving more, then it might not be the diet for you,” says Angel Planells RDN, a Seattle-based spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. In other words, make sure you stick to a diet plan that works for you, featuring foods that leave you satisfied, not deprived. For specific ingredient suggestions, we rounded up the high-protein, low-carb foods to add to your meal plan, according to Planells and Smith.
Serving size: 1 large hardboiled or scrambled
6 g protein; <1 g carbs
Not just a breakfast food, hardboiled eggs taste great on salads or as a stand-alone snack. Both Smith and Planells recommend it as a top food to choose. These 10 “facts” about eggs simply aren’t true.
Serving size: 3 oz.
20 g protein; 0 g carbs
An easy addition to salads, grain bowls, or as a main meal, chicken breast will fill you up thanks to that high-protein content. Aim to keep portions the size of your fist to get your fill and use healthier cooking methods (baked, roasted, grilled, etc.) versus frying. We definitively answer the debate as to if you should wash chicken before you cook it or not.