Protein for Weight Loss

High Protein Food Lists, Diet Tips, and Recipes

Smart dieters use lean protein for weight loss. Why? Because lean protein foods help you to feel full longer and help you to feel more satisfied. The result is that many dieters eat less during the day and slim down faster.

In addition, if you participate in a strength training program, lean protein helps you build and maintain muscle. Not only will a leaner, tighter body look better, but a strong body functions better throughout the day. Daily physical activities become easier to do. And when activity is easier, you're likely to do more of it—and burn more calories in the process.

These diet tips, protein food lists, and recipes will help you to eat the right amount and right type of protein for weight loss. You'll learn how to choose the best foods, plan protein-rich meals, and to balance your diet with ​good carbohydrates and healthy fats so that you build and maintain the body you deserve.

Why Protein for Weight Loss?

protein for weight loss
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Do you know why protein is good for losing weight? You should. If you understand the benefits—and the drawbacks—of consuming protein-rich foods, you are more likely to stay motivated, stick to your plan, and reach your weight loss goal.

First, it's important to understand that eating protein is not a magic bullet. You won't magically lose weight simply by adding protein-rich foods to your plate. But this macronutrient can provide specific benefits to make the dieting and exercise process easier.

Specifically:

  • Protein-rich foods require more calories to digest
  • Protein foods help you to feel full and satisfied at meal-time
  • Protein helps you to maintain muscle mass on your body
  • Protein helps you to build stronger muscles if you participate in a strength training program

Keep in mind, however, that high-protein diets don't work for everyone. Check to make sure it's right for you before you begin your weight loss journey.

How Much Protein for Weight Loss?

You've probably noticed more protein-rich foods at the grocery store. It seems that food manufacturers are adding it to everything: breakfast cereal, snack bars, beverages, even frozen desserts! But more protein is not always better, even if you are using a high-protein diet for weight loss.

Make sure you eat the right amount of protein each day to maximize your weight loss potential. Different organizations use different guidelines to determine your protein needs.

The USDA recommends that 10 to 30 percent of your daily calories come from protein.

There are ways to personalize the recommendation. An average dieter needs 0.4 to 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Athletes and those who exercise more than 10 to 12 hours per week need up to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight.

Personalizing the recommendation will also help you to figure out if you should use powdered protein for weight loss or if you should boost your intake at meal time and with healthy protein-rich snacks.

High Protein Foods List

Once you've decided to go on a high protein diet for weight loss, you need to clean out your refrigerator and fill it with protein-rich snacks and healthy meal ingredients. 

Most of us know which protein foods to eat at dinner time. Chicken breast, salmon, tuna, and beef are usually front of mind for most people. But there are other protein-packed foods that provide nutritional benefits. For example, legumes (red beans, nuts), peas and spinach are delicious additions at any meal.

Take a protein foods list with you to the grocery store and stock up. You'll find nutritious choices in almost every section of the market.

Protein Shakes for Weight Loss

One of the easiest ways to lose weight with protein is to use meal replacement smoothies. But not every smoothie will help you to slim down. Many are very high in calories and high in sugar.

So how do you keep your diet on track when you don't have time to prepare a meal. It's best to skip the store-bought smoothies and make your own. The best protein shakes should be high in nutrition and low in calories. And follow a few basic rules to be sure your drink is delicious and nutritious.

  • If you follow a recipe, make sure you note the number of servings and consume just one serving at meal time.
  • Measure your ingredients! It's very easy to add too much to the blender and mindlessly increase calories.
  • Add fat sparingly. Healthy fats from chia seeds, nuts, and nut butters are delicious but can be fattening if you're not careful.

Learn how to follow a protein shake diet for weight loss. It can help you to jump-start your program or help you maintain your body once you've reached your goal.

Protein Bars for Weight Loss

Not sure which protein bar is best for your weight loss plan? These snack foods and meal replacements always seem like a good idea because the labels often boast nutritional benefits. But not all bars will help you to slim down.

For example, some bars are designed for endurance athletes. So they are packed with energy to fuel a long exercise session. That means they are full of calories. Other bars have a lot of protein, along with a lot of fat and added sugar. Some bars have more calories than a candy bar.

Before you choose a protein bar, turn over the package (skip all of the advertising claims on the front) and look at the Nutrition Facts label. Find a bar with fewer grams of sugar, less fat, and more protein.

You can also scan the ingredients list. If sugar (and remember that sugar might be listed under many different names) is listed as a primary ingredient, skip it and find another one.

Understanding the different type of bars can help you make your choice. It doesn't matter if you like crunchy bars, chocolatey bars or peanutty bars, you'll find a high protein bar to fit into your plan on this list.

Protein-Rich Snacks

Research has shown that if you have portion-controlled protein snacks ready to go, you may eat less and lose weight faster. Sounds easy, right? But which protein snacks are best? Many protein foods need refrigeration. And some are hard to carry in your purse or your gym bag.

Use either of these guides to find snack-friendly protein for weight loss.

And remember, it doesn't matter what kind of snacks you choose, it's best to prepare them in advance and have them ready to grab when you're hungry. Take one day each week to individually pack single serving containers of each snack so you know exactly how much to consume.

High Protein Meals for Weight Loss

Most of us consume protein at dinner time. A traditional supper usually includes a meat or seafood, some starchy carbs (hello baked potato!) and a few veggies. But it's smart to eat protein for weight loss at every meal. Choose protein-rich grains at breakfast, fuel up with a three bean salad at lunch, and then add a single-serving of healthy fish at dinner time. And you should also experiment with different types of protein—from vegetables, dairy, legumes and more.

Use each of these guides to build healthy, balanced meals that are protein-rich but balanced with healthy fats and smart carbohydrates for energy.

A Word From Verywell

Remember, any smart program to lose weight should encourage healthy eating. That means that you eat a balanced diet full of a wide range of nutritious food. Eating more protein for weight loss can help you to stick to your program, but it won't magically make you slim down.

If you need more help getting enough protein each day, consider speaking with a registered dietitian to develop a comprehensive eating plan. A professional can help you to create a satisfying plan not only for weight loss but also for long-term health and wellness.

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