6 High Protein Foods That Are Also Low In Calories
Low-calorie, high protein foods are a staple in many diet plans. After all, lean protein fills you up while helping to prevent overeating from high-calorie food sources. It’s handy to have a range of low-cal, high protein foods in your diet that deliver maximum flavour with a minimum amount of calories. Check out some of our favourites below:
1. Chicken or Turkey Breast
White meat (especially chicken and turkey breast) has the lowest calories and saturated fat, while being rich in B vitamins, iron, and magnesium. The average chicken breast contains at least 30g of protein, and around 165 calories. Turkey breast provides about 26g of protein, and contains roughly 155 calories.
There are multiple ways of incorporating chicken or turkey breast into your diet. Serving poultry breasts poached and whole is a simple, flavourful way to bolster high protein diets. Alternatively, you can dice it up to use in salads or stir-fries.
2. Greek Yogurt
What sets Greek-style yogurt apart from other yogurts isn’t the ingredients. Instead, this yogurt gets its thickness from the extra step of draining the yogurt before packaging. The result is a much thicker, denser dairy product that’s extra-high in nutrients like protein and calcium, but without the increase in calories. Each small container of plain Greek yogurt only contains about 100 calories, while providing 17g of protein.
Since Greek yogurt is thicker and richer than its watery counterparts, and makes a great substitute for foods like sour cream and even ice cream. Put a generous portion on your baked potatoes or fish tacos. For sweeter dishes, add a bit of honey and some raisins and nuts.
Some nuts tend to get a bad rep for being high in calories. You have to watch your portions to keep this option low-calorie. Walnuts, pistachios, almonds or cashews are some of the best low-calorie nuts to have as a snack or to add to your meals.
Nuts are about 160 calories per ounce, and contain 6g of protein. You’ll also get healthy fats, vitamin E, fibre, and minerals from consuming them. If you follow a plant-based diet, nuts can form the backbone of your protein sources.
Tossing a handful of nuts over your side dishes and salads is the most obvious way to incorporate more of this protein-rich food into your diet. If that gets boring, consider grinding nuts finely, and using them instead of breadcrumbs in healthy quiches and casseroles. Chopped nuts can help keep your blood sugar from spiking if you add them to higher-carb baked goods like wholegrain muffins and cookies.
Most seafood selections are naturally low in calories and high in protein, making them a great food to add to your diet. You can eat seafood several times a week without getting bored. Here are some of the best high protein low-calorie fish to consume:
- Canned tuna delivers almost 40g of protein per serving, at under 180 calories.
- Prawns provide 18g of protein per 3-ounce serving, at under 85 calories.
- Whole fish options are all high in lean protein. Salmon is seen as one of the healthiest fish to eat, with a 3-ounce portion containing about 20g of protein and under 200 calories. Other high protein fish choices include halibut, whole tuna, sardines, trout, cod, mackerel, perch, flounder, and haddock.
Grilling, baking or poaching seafood is often the healthiest way to prepare these high protein foods. Selections like shrimp and sardines are also available pre-cooked and make convenient additions to cold salads. Serve whole fish fillets as a main meal or slice them for use in stir-fries and tacos.
5. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese packs a whopping 27g of protein in each serving, yet it contains under 200 calories. As with other dairy foods, cottage cheese also delivers calcium, B vitamins and minerals.
If you don’t like plain cottage cheese, check out the labels of flavoured types, to make sure the calorie count fits into your meal plan. Most are still low-cal, enabling you to mix things up a bit.
Try adding it to chopped apples, grapes, and nuts for a “Waldorf” salad. You can also process cottage cheese with spinach or artichoke hearts in the blender, to make a tangy spread that’s low in calories and packed with protein.
At 78 calories per egg, eggs make a great source of lean protein, provided you don’t add cheese and ham! If you’re really worried about cholesterol, consider sticking to egg whites for omelettes or scrambled eggs. Provided the rest of your diet is low in red meat and butter, whole eggs a few times a week are a great option. You’ll get 6g of protein in each egg.
There are several ways to add eggs to your meals. Chop up hard-boiled eggs and sprinkle them into salads or over steamed vegetables. Or beat one egg for every person you’re serving, and add it to cooked rice or pasta as soon the hot starch comes off the heat. Tossing an egg with these types of complex carbs is a great way to balance fibre with protein.