11 Must Have High Protein Foods for Weight Loss

Obesity or being overweight is the most common problem with today’s generation.

Changes in lifestyles, food preferences, lack of physical activity and dietary habits are the contributing factors.

Losing extra calories by working out and doing different types of exercises require much time and hard work and make weight loss a difficult process.

Obesity or being overweight is the most common problem with today’s generation.

Changes in lifestyles, food preferences, lack of physical activity and dietary habits are the contributing factors.

Losing extra calories by working out and doing different types of exercises require much time and hard work and make weight loss a difficult process.

On the other hand, weight can be easily controlled by simple changes in the eating habits.

Choosing specific foods that do not contribute to weight gain and which help in reducing the fats can have miraculous results.

For a person aiming at weight loss, the most important nutrient is protein. A high – protein diet can work wonders for a weight loss regime.

How high protein diet helps in weight loss?

Adding protein to the diet can have the following benefits:

  • More calories burnt: Protein-rich diet boosts the metabolism levels. Digestion, absorption, and metabolism of proteins require more energy, which is obtained by burning more calories.
  • Reduced appetite: Including more protein in the food makes you fell fuller and less hungry. Increased satiety levels make you consume less food and energy and help in weight loss.
  • Optimize the amount of weight-regulating hormones: More protein intake results in an increase in satiety hormones and a decrease of hunger-causing hormones in the body.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, the effect of a high-protein diet on weight loss was examined in 932 obese families. T

he results indicated improved health parameters with a decrease in weight and body fat along with the prevention of weight gain.

In another study conducted on 83 obese women, a protein-rich diet led to a decrease in total body fat, waist circumference, lipids, glucose levels, and blood pressure.

In addition to helping in losing weight, protein also helps in improving muscle mass, strength, and endurance.

Thus, it is also recommended for bodybuilding.

The daily requirement for protein is 0.8 grams per kilograms of body weight, to carry out the normal bodily functions.

However, if one is aiming for weight loss or bodybuilding, extra intake of protein is beneficial.

Below we provide a list of 11 foods which are proven to help in weight loss. You can either read about all of them or jump to the ones you love using the table of contents below:

Nutritious High Protein Foods For Weight Loss

Here are 11 Foods which are abundant in proteins and can help with your weight loss schedule.

High Protein Foods for Weight Loss

1. Seafood

Seafood is amongst the richest and healthiest protein sources. It includes various fishes, shrimps, prawns, crabs, and lobsters to name a few.

It is considered a complete and high-quality protein source as it contains all the essential amino acids, which are required by the body through diet.

Additionally, it also contains many other nutrients and omega-3-fatty acids which are good for mental and cardiovascular health.

As compared to other meats and poultry, the calories and fats in seafood are lesser, and the proteins in it are much more digestible.

A 100g serving of seafood provides about 29g protein, which depends on the type of seafood. However, most seafood is considered rich in protein.

Fishes like tuna and salmon will provide 26-28g protein, shrimps and prawns provide 25g protein, crab offers 23g proteins while lobsters give about 20g protein.

In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, it was found that inclusion of seafood as part of an energy-restricted diet plan facilitated much more weight loss than a diet without seafood.

What does this mean? Seafood comprising fish, shrimps, prawns, crabs, and lobsters is a rich, complete and high-quality protein source, offering 20-30g per 100g serving.

2. Lean meat-Chicken and Beef

Animal protein is one of the best, and complete sources of all the 8 essential amino acids required by the body to perform different functions. It is very fulfilling in nature and promotes satiety.

The complex proteins from animals require more energy to digest which results in more calories burnt. Lean meat is a very healthy source of animal protein which includes chicken breast and beef.

A 100g serving of beef will load the body with about 22g of protein, while chicken provides around 23g high-quality protein.

Research conducted on 61 women consuming either chicken (white meat) or beef (red meat) reported significant decreases in body fat and lipid levels in both groups.

This proves that both types of animal proteins are suitable for weight loss.

What does this mean? Lean meats (meats with low-fat content) are excellent protein foods providing all the essential amino acids to the body. They can give you 20-25g protein in a 100g serving.

3. Eggs

Eggs are very nutritious and contain protein at high levels. 12% of eggs constitute protein. They are commonly available and very versatile.

They can be eaten in different forms and easily incorporated into dishes.

1 hardboiled egg provides you with about 6g of protein along with several other vitamins and minerals.

The egg yolk contains cholesterol which could be a concern for some people. However, egg increases the cholesterol in only some individuals, while in others, it does not.

The cholesterol in egg increases the HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) in the body.

Therefore, it is also beneficial to consume only egg whites which provide about 3.5g protein.

Journal of American College and Nutrition reports a study in which the effect of egg-based breakfast on 30 overweight subjects was examined.

As a result, the food intake was decreased, and satiety levels were increased in the people after breakfast.

In another study, egg-based diet promoted weight loss by a decline in body fat and waist circumference.

What does this mean? Eggs are highly nutritious and a must-have food to increase protein intake and promote weight loss.

4. Milk

Dairy products are an excellent source of protein obtained from animals, which can also be consumed by vegetarians.

Milk is considered a complete diet as it contains almost all nutrients required by the body. It contains high levels of protein.

Two main types of proteins are present in milk- soluble (whey 20%) and insoluble (casein 80%).

One cup cow’s milk contains about 8g of protein. Milk helps you feel full and decrease the urge to eat.
Several studies prove the effectiveness of dairy products in losing weight.

In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, obese women were given milk supplementation as part of an energy-restricted diet. As a result, milk helped in lowering appetite and promote weight loss.

What does this mean? Milk contains proteins of excellent quality that are easily digestible and make you eat less, thus supporting weight loss.

5. Yogurt

Another dairy product that can accelerate weight loss is yogurt. 100g yogurt gives about 6g protein.

Moreover, probiotic yogurt is full of gut-friendly bacteria that help in digestion. It also facilitates more decreases in body fat, weight, and BMI than regular yogurt.

One can consume both low-fat and full-fat yogurt to aid in weight loss. Contrary to the belief that one should consume low-fat dairy products, consuming high-fat dairy is known to lower the risk of obesity.

What does this mean? Protein-rich yogurt should be added to the diet to facilitate weight loss and improve digestion.

6. Whey protein

Whey is another commonly used dairy protein that promotes weight loss.

After curdling of milk to form cheese, the remaining liquid is whey.

Proteins are extracted from this liquid and are called whey proteins. They may be of different concentrations depending on the technique of extraction used.

It is used to obtain whey powder (11-15% protein), whey concentrate (25-89% protein) and whey isolate (>90%).

Whey is a complete protein which has high levels of essential and branched chain amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

Therefore, it is widely used in protein shakes, baked products, nutritional supplements and infant food.

The effectiveness of whey protein in weight loss and management, decreased body fat and obesity risk has been proved by many studies.

What does this mean? Whey protein is a proven, complete and healthy protein-rich food for weight loss and management.

7. Cheese

Cheese is very high in protein. It contains casein protein which has essential amino acids and is also readily digestible. The varieties of cheese have different protein contents.

Cheddar cheese provided around 30g protein while cottage cheese gives 24g protein with 1 cup serving.    Cottage cheese is also much lower in fats and carbohydrates.

One can improve protein intake by consuming more cheese which will also promote satiety and help in weight loss.

What does this mean? Cheese is a delicious and protein-rich food that makes one burn more calories and reduces weight.

8. Peanuts

Peanuts or groundnuts belong to the legume family.

They are usually eaten raw; oil roasted, dry roasted, salted or in the form of peanut butter.

For someone who is looking for a plant-based protein source, peanuts have very high protein content.

They are composed of about 16% protein. They may not be as rich in protein as animal sources, but they have an added advantage of low fats and cholesterol.

A 100g serving of peanuts can provide about 24-28g protein, while a 2 tablespoon serving of peanut butter gives approximately 10g protein.

The high protein content of peanuts was examined to study its effectiveness in weight loss, where it showed positive results.

Research conducted on 262 students revealed that obesity was less likely in pupils who ate peanuts. In addition to lowering the weight, it also helped in improving health status.

Another study carried out in women suggests a lower risk of weight gain with peanut consumption.

This was because peanuts were found to reduce hunger and energy intake.

What does this mean? Several studies show the efficacy of peanut in weight reduction and management. It is an excellent plant-based source of protein.

9. Soy products

Soybeans or Glycine max are legumes which are abundant in proteins and a good source of plant-based protein.

They can be consumed it different forms. The protein composition varies according to the area where it is grown.

On average, it is constituted of about 45% protein.  It can be consumed in different forms:

  • Edamame -It is the immature green bean pods. One cup prepared edamame gives 18g protein.
  • Soybeans -the mature yellow beans. One cup cooked beans provide about 28 g of protein.
  • Soy milk -It is obtained from grinding dried soy beans soaked in water. 1 cup soymilk gives 7g protein.
  •  Tofu - It is derived from coagulating soy milk. 100g tofu has 11g protein.
  • Soy flour -It is made from ground soybeans. It has 50% protein content.  A serving of 1 cup offers 32g protein.

The protein from soybeans is of a high quality and suited for weight reduction diets. It is recommended to take 15g soy protein per 1000kcal for 4 months to aid in weight loss.

Studies have shown the effectiveness of a soy-based diet in reducing weight, body fat, and cholesterol levels while improving body composition and muscle mass.

Soy milk can be substituted for animal milk in people with dairy incontinence.

What does this mean? Soy products including tofu are abundant in protein and serve as an excellent protein source for vegetarians and vegans.

10. Kidney beans

Kidney beans are protein-rich legumes that are used in many dishes and recipes.

Its protein quality may be lower than animal sources, but proteins from legumes have a higher bioavailability and can be utilized effectively by the body.

They can be considered a good fat-free and cholesterol-free protein source and suitable for vegetarian and vegan weight loss diet.

Raw and sprouted beans have about 8g protein, while cooked beans provide 15g protein in a one cup serving. Canned kidney beans of the same serving give 13g protein.

Studies show that increasing consumption of kidney beans reduced the risk of obesity by providing more nutrients while decreasing body weight and waist circumference.

What does this mean? Kidney beans help in reducing weight and obesity risk. They are a nutritious and healthy protein-rich food.

11. Quinoa

Quinoa or Chenopodium quinoa is a whole grain food which contains many nutrients in high quantities.

Quinoa seeds are edible and a complete protein source, as they contain all the essential amino acids.

The content of protein in quinoa is more than other cereals like barley, oats, maize, rice, and wheat.

They help in boosting metabolism and increase energy expenditure, which makes them an ideal food for weight loss.

High fiber in quinoa increases satiety and reduces food intake.

A one cup serving of quinoa provides 8g protein.

What does this mean? Among many types of cereals, quinoa has the highest concentrations of protein and good fiber content. Protein and fiber are a very effective combination to lose weight.

Precautions to be taken while consuming these foods

Here are a couple of precautions that you should be aware of when consuming the above mentioned high protein foods:

  • These foods can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. People may be allergic to seafood, milk, peanuts, soy and kidney beans.
  • Seafood may cause poisoning or infection if obtained from contaminated waters.
  • Meat is high in cholesterol levels and saturated fats, so it should be consumed in moderate amounts by people having risks of cardiovascular disorders. Lean cuts are preferred.
  • Milk consists of the carbohydrate lactose, which can be difficult for some people to digest. Lactose intolerance is quite common around the world.
  • One should not consume protein in exceptionally high amounts, more than the maximum prescribed or recommended limits. The body can absorb and digest only a specific amount of protein per day. Very high protein intake can lead to protein toxicity which can reduce the intake of vitamins and minerals by the body and cause disorders of kidney, liver, bone and digestive tract.

In the end..

High-protein foods help in weight loss by helping the body burn more calories and increasing energy expenditure.

They also decrease hunger and limit food intake by helping in the release of satiety hormones and making one feel fuller.

Protein can be obtained from both animal and plant sources.

Animal sources include seafood, lean meat, and dairy products, while peanuts, soy products, kidney beans, oats, and quinoa are excellent plant-based protein sources.

Animal sources offer protein of higher quality and in larger quantities, but they also contain fats and cholesterol.

Plant sources, although low in protein quality and content, provide healthy alternatives. For promoting a reduction in weight, one should include these foods in the diet in recommended amounts.

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