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Written by: Dr. Marc Morris Ph.D CSCS

If there were a magical weight loss superfood, it would undoubtedly be protein. Today we’re going to talk about the top high-protein foods to incorporate into your diet for effective weight loss in a calorie deficit.

Before diving into the specifics, it's crucial to understand why protein plays a pivotal role in weight loss. Protein helps induce a feeling of fullness curbing cravings, which is a common challenge for those on a fat loss journey. Additionally, protein is essential for building and maintaining lean muscle during weight loss.

However, to achieve all of this you need to have an adequate daily protein intake, which for most individuals is 1.5 - 2.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight or 0.7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Now that you know why protein is important for fat loss, and how much you should be eating on a daily basis, let's get into the best high protein foods you can eat to lose weight.

#1 Chicken Breast

You can’t discuss protein-rich foods without mentioning chicken breast, especially when it consistently tops the charts in "Best High-Protein Foods" articles. With approximately 18-20 grams of protein per 100 grams and only 100 calories, chicken breast stands out as a weight-loss-friendly option.

Beyond its nutritional benefits, chicken breast's versatility makes it a go-to for those looking to diversify their diet. Whether grilled, baked, or sautéed, it effortlessly blends into many dishes, no matter how you flavor it or what method you choose to cook it.

#2 Ground Turkey

Ground turkey, similar to chicken, offers nearly 20 grams of protein per 100 grams with a range of 120-150 calories.

Make sure to pay attention to labels, since there are different fat contents depending on what cut you buy.

Also like chicken, ground turkey is versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes. Anything you use beef or pork for you can substitute with ground turkey. This is something to consider if you want to lose weight, especially because beef and pork are fattier meats with more calories.

Some meals you could use ground turkey in include tacos, meatballs, burgers, and many others that are only a google search away. Besides ground turkey, other lean cuts that will help with you weight loss are sliced turkey, turkey breast, and turkey jerky.

#3 Eggs and Egg Whites

Eggs, specifically their whites, take the spotlight for their impressive protein content.

A large whole egg delivers approximately 7 grams of protein and 72 calories. For an even more protein-packed option, consider egg whites, which have 10-11 grams of protein and only 54 calories per 100 grams.

Integrating egg whites into your diet can be a game-changer. From omelets to protein pancakes, there are countless ways to incorporate this low-calorie, high-protein ingredient into your recipes, adding both nutrition and flavor to your meals.

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#4 Lentils

If you're after plant-based protein, don't overlook lentils. They have around 10 grams of protein per 100 grams when cooked, with roughly 120 calories. While they’re a bit higher in carbs, it can be manageable as long as you plan accordingly.

Lentils are a go-to in vegetarian and vegan diets, making them a convenient addition to many recipes. Keep in mind, though, their high fiber content might not sit well with sensitive stomachs if eating a large portion.

Compared to other protein-rich legumes like chickpeas, lentils are a leaner choice, making them a preferred option during dieting.

#5 Greek Yogurt 

Low-fat Greek yogurt carries lots of protein, offering around 16g of protein in a Âľ cup serving, with 120 calories.

Beyond being a satisfying snack on its own, Greek yogurt is versatile in various recipes and sauces, and is able to replace sour cream in many recipes. Its popularity extends to low-calorie salad dressings and dips, with brands like Bolthouse Farms that have Greek yogurt-based salad dressings.

Even classics like spinach artichoke dip and guacamole have seen reduced-calorie versions using Greek yogurt.

For those looking to add a flavor twist, consider mixing in a flavored protein powder to enhance both taste and protein content.

#6 Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese has proven to be yet another versatile protein source, delivering approximately 13 grams of protein and 90 calories in just a half-cup serving.

Cottage cheese is a popular choice for snacks and beyond. It’s recently gone viral on Tiktok, and many people have begun to come up with higher protein recipes using cottage cheese. One of these being a cottage cheese ice cream.

While you might not be ready to jump straight into cottage cheese ice cream, on its own it makes a great high protein snack.

#7 Canned Tuna

Alright, it's confession time – tuna just happens to be one of my favorite high-protein foods. Just crack open a 3oz can or packet, and you're looking at a solid 16g of protein with a guilt-free 70 calories.

Whether you opt for canned or pre-packaged versions, tuna proves itself to be the ideal on-the-go snack and finds its way into countless recipes – from tuna salads to tuna sandwiches.

Many brands sell many different flavors of tuna to choose from. So next time you’re walking through the grocery store, take note of all the flavors they have to offer.

#8 Protein Supplements 

It might sound like stating the obvious, but protein supplements are a game-changer when it comes to incorporating protein into your diet while still losing weight.

These supplements come in many forms, including shakes, powder, and bars. This offers you flexibility to fit your preferences and lifestyle. There’s no specific brand of supplement that beats the rest. 

However, when selecting a protein supplement, there are a few guidelines to keep you on track with your fat loss goals. Look for options with at least 20-30g of protein per serving and under 250 calories, ensuring that you don’t consume any additional carbs and fats. The goal is to enhance protein intake without adding unnecessary calories, so steer clear of weight gainers or meal replacements.

While these supplements make great snacks; they're versatile ingredients that can elevate a variety of recipes. I recommend incorporating them into your meals, whether in smoothies, oatmeal, or pancakes.

One of my favorite protein hacks for busy people is adding a protein shake to your coffee, making it delicious and high in protein. One brand to check out for this is Premier Protein. 

If you’re in a calorie deficit and struggling to find high protein food sources, look no further. This list has you covered, ensuring your weight loss journey is effective, while leaving you satisfied.

You don’t need to eat boring meals to lose weight. The array of options and recipes we discussed here means you'll never be bored again. Meeting your protein goals in a calorie deficit can be easy, as long as you have the guidelines to help you on your fat-loss journey.

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