If you’re looking to lose weight, you may have heard that eating a high-protein diet is one of the best ways to do it. Protein helps curb your appetite and keep you feeling full, which can make it easier to cut calories and lose weight. But it’s important to note that not all proteins are created equal when it comes to calorie content.
There are some foods that offer plenty of protein but very few calories—roughly 100 calories per serving or less—and there are others that are packed with calories but only offer a small amount of protein. If you’re trying to shed pounds, make sure you’re focusing on the ones with low calorie counts.
Here are some examples of high-protein foods with low calories (and some with high calorie counts).
High Protein Food With Low Calories
Low-calorie high-protein foods: Check out these 10 foods that may help you slim down faster by helping you load up on proteins!
Low calorie high protein foods: These foods may help you lose weight faster
- Protein is a crucial macronutrient required by the body
- Consuming seafood is the best low-calorie way of eating protein
- Mushrooms, spinach and peas can be added to meat salads
Low-calorie high-protein foods are much in demand nowadays, especially with the growth of the number of people who want to shed weight and build lean muscle. Protein is a crucial macronutrient that helps build muscle, aid muscle recovery and keep you full so that you do not binge unnecessarily. However, not all foods supply the same amount of protein to your body. Despite what all of us think, not everyone needs proteins in the same amounts. Protein is required in high amounts in the diets of people who are working to slim down, build lean muscle to support their athletic abilities or their stamina in sports. But before you go nuts looking for the nutrient and obsess over it, you must know what it is. Protein is present in our body in hair, skin, bones and, of course, muscles.
Protein: Importance And Daily Requirements
According to Harvard T.H. Chan School Of Public Health, protein makes up enzymes that fuel many chemical reactions, as well as the haemoglobin that carries oxygen in our blood. Protein is made from over 20 building blocks, which are known amino acids and these amino acids are either made inside our bodies from scratch, or after modifying some other amino acids. Our food must contain nine essential amino acids, which are as follows: leucine, lysine, histidine, methionine, phenylalanine, valine, tryptophan, threonine and isoleucine. A commonly cited daily recommended allowance for dietary protein says that one should consume 0.8 gm of protein per kilogram of their body weight.
American non-profit agency The National Academy of Medicine recommends that one should consume between 10 and 35 percent of their daily calories from proteins. Opinions seem to be divided on how many calories protein must contribute on a daily basis, but a Harvard study found that the percentage of calories from the total daily protein intake wasn’t linked to mortality or specific causes of death. The premiere University’s research, however, indicates that the source of protein is crucial. A deficiency of protein may lead to loss of muscle mass, stunted growth, poor immunity and may even affect the health of the heart and increase risk of mortality.
Low-Calorie High-Protein Foods: One should consume 0.8 gm of protein per kilogram of their body weight
What Low-Calorie High-Protein Foods Means
How many calories one needs to consume on a daily basis also differs from person to person. Depending on what your weight loss or weight gain goal is and depending on your current level of activity, you need to determine a healthy calorie budget and then follow it as closely as you can, in order to achieve your body goals. If you want to lose weight, then it may help you set a deadline and then take it one week at a time. Determine how much you can lose weight, without putting your health in danger. No matter what your calorie-budget is, it helps to know about certain healthy low-calorie high protein foods that you may add to your diet to expedite the weight loss process.
Here Are Some Of The Best Vegetables And Meats That Are Low In Calories And High In Proteins:
Seafood is a great source of dietary protein as it is one of the best low-calorie options out there. Tuna is widely available in mostly canned form. The fish provides around 20 gm of protein in under 100 calories (per 100 gm), depending on the type of tuna fish you are using. Tuna is a source of lean protein and is great for the heart as well.
A 100 gm portion of turkey breast contains just 157 calories with 22 gm of protein (as per data by the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA), making it one of the best sources of low-calorie protein foods. The popular North American poultry is a white meat that is preferred by those wanting to gain extra stamina for working out or performing strenuous physical activity.
3. Cottage Cheese (or Paneer)
If you’re a vegetarian and looking for great low calorie protein rich foods, then it doesn’t get better than this – a 100 gm portion of cottage cheese contains just 98 calories and 11 gm protein (as per the USDA data).
Low-Calorie High-Protein Foods: Cottage cheese is one of the best vegetarian protein-rich foods
One of the most well-known and cheapest (and probably controversial) proteins is chicken eggs. A 100 gm portion of chicken egg contains just 155 calories and 13 gm of protein (as per the USDA data).
If you need some good vegetables to accompany your meats, then spinach should be your top choice. The powerful vegetable (raw) contains just around20 calories per 100 gm, along with almost 3 gm of protein.
Another fish that can add to your protein load, without disturbing your calorie budget is salmon. Depending on the salmon variety, a 100 gm of the fish provides between 18 to 25 gm of protein and all within 200 calories (as per the USDA data).
Lentils are edible legumes that are very popular sources of protein, among vegetarians. Lentils are extremely low in calories and rich in protein. A 100 gm of boiled lentils contains 9 gm of protein, with just 116 calories (as per the USDA data).
Pisum sativum, or green peas, are also great protein-rich foods that you should add to your daily diet. A 100 gm portion of raw green peas contain just 81 calories and 5 gm of protein (as per the USDA data).
Low-Calorie High-Protein Foods: Add protein-rich green peas to your meat salads
The popular dairy product dahi, or curd, is also a great low-calorie and high-protein option for those watching their weight. A 100 gm portion of curd contains just 98 calories and 11 gm of protein (as per the USDA data).
Another great veggie to add to your chicken or turkey sandwich or salad is mushroom. Technically a fungus, the mushroom (white, raw) contains 3.1 gm of protein per 100 gm, with just 22 calories (as per the USDA data)!
low calorie foods
13 Low Calorie Foods That Are Surprisingly Filling
One of the most challenging dietary changes to make can be reducing calorie intake.
Many low calorie foods can leave you feeling hungry and unfulfilled between meals.
However, plenty of nutritious foods exist that are both filling and low in calories.
Here are 13 low calorie foods that are surprisingly filling.
Oats can be an excellent addition to your daily diet.
They’re not only low in calories, but they’re also high in protein and fiber, which can keep you feeling full.
A 1/2-cup (40-gram) serving of dry oats has just 154 calories but packs 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber — both of which can have a significant impact on your hunger and appetite (1Trusted Source).
One study involving 48 adults demonstrated that eating oatmeal increased feelings of fullness and reduced hunger and calorie intake at the next meal (2Trusted Source).
Another small study linked instant and old-fashioned oatmeal to significantly improved appetite control over a 4-hour period compared to a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal (3Trusted Source).
Oats, which are high in fiber and protein, work to reduce hunger, increase feelings of fullness, and improve appetite control.
- Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is a great source of protein that can be incorporated into a nutritious diet.
Greek yogurt nutrition
Though the exact numbers vary between brands and flavors, a 1-cup (245-gram) serving of nonfat Greek yogurt provides about 150 calories and 25 grams of protein (4Trusted Source).
One study involving 20 women examined how a nonfat Greek yogurt snack affected appetite compared to higher fat snacks like chocolate or crackers.
Not only did women who ate yogurt experience less hunger, but they also consumed 100 fewer calories at dinner than those who ate crackers or chocolate (5Trusted Source).
Meanwhile, in another study involving 15 women, high protein Greek yogurt helped reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness compared to lower protein snacks (6Trusted Source).
Greek yogurt is high in protein and linked to less hunger, subdued calorie intake, and increased feelings of fullness.
Though soup is often dismissed as little more than a light and simple side dish, it can be very satisfying.
The brand and type of soup may vary in nutritional content, but a 1/2-cup serving of condensed chicken noodle soup from a can contains about 60 calories and 3 grams of protein (7Trusted Source).
In fact, some research suggests that soups may be more filling than solid foods — even if they have the same ingredients.
For example, one study involving 12 people indicated that blended soup slowed the emptying of the stomach and was more effective at promoting fullness than a solid meal or chunky soup (8Trusted Source).
In another study involving 60 people, eating soup prior to a meal decreased total calorie intake at lunch by an impressive 20% (9Trusted Source).
Keep in mind that creamy soups and chowders — while filling — may also be high in calories.
Opt for a lighter broth- or stock-based soup to minimize calories and maximize fullness.
Certain types of soup can be low in calories and slow the emptying of your stomach while reducing total calorie intake.
Berries — including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries — are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can optimize your health.
For example, 1 cup (150 grams) of blueberries supplies just 86 calories but packs 3.6 grams of fiber (10Trusted Source).
Berries are also a great source of pectin, a type of dietary fiber that has been shown to slow stomach emptying and increase feelings of fullness in human and animal studies (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
This could also help cut calorie consumption.
One study noted that a 65-calorie afternoon snack of berries decreased calorie intake later in the day compared to a 65-calorie snack of gummy candies (14Trusted Source).
Berries are high in fiber and pectin, which slow the emptying of your stomach and promote feelings of fullness.
Eggs are extremely nutrient-dense, as they’re low in calories but rich in many vital nutrients.
A single large egg has approximately 72 calories, 6 grams of protein, and a wide array of important vitamins and minerals (15Trusted Source).
Studies suggest that starting your day with a serving of eggs can boost fullness.
In a study involving 30 people, those who ate eggs for breakfast instead of a bagel experienced greater feelings of fullness and consumed 105 fewer calories later in the day (16Trusted Source).
Other studies observed that a high protein breakfast could decrease snacking, slow the emptying of your stomach, and reduce levels of ghrelin, the hormone responsible for hunger (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).
Eggs are packed with protein and make a superb low calorie breakfast choice.
Thanks to its high fiber content, popcorn tops the charts as one of the most filling low calorie snacks.
Though there are only 31 calories in 1 cup (8 grams) of air-popped popcorn, it boasts 1.2 grams of dietary fiber — up to 5% of your daily fiber needs (19Trusted Source).
Not only does fiber slow your digestive process to promote fullness, but it can also stabilize blood sugar (20Trusted Source).
Additionally, popcorn can help reduce appetite and enhance feelings of fullness more than many other popular snack foods.
In fact, in one study involving 35 people researchers observed that those who ate 100 calories of popcorn were fuller and more satisfied than those who ate 150 calories of potato chips (21Trusted Source).
However, keep in mind that these benefits apply to air-popped popcorn. Many ready-made varieties are prepared with a lot of extra fat and sometimes sugar, which greatly increases the calorie content.
Popcorn is high in fiber, which can slow your digestion and stabilize blood sugar. It also reduces hunger and promotes satisfaction better than other snacks.
- Chia seeds
Often hailed as a serious superfood, chia seeds pack a high amount of protein and fiber into a low number of calories.
Chia seed nutrition
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of chia seeds provides 138 calories, 4.7 grams of protein, and a whopping 9.8 grams of fiber (22Trusted Source).
Chia seeds are especially high in soluble fiber, a type of fiber that absorbs liquid and swells in your stomach to promote feelings of fullness (23Trusted Source).
In fact, some researchers observed that chia seeds can absorb 15 times their weight in water, moving slowly through your digestive tract to keep you feeling full (24Trusted Source).
Adding two servings of chia seeds to your daily diet can curb high calorie cravings and reduce appetite.
In one study involving 24 adults, those who consumed yogurt with added chia seeds reported decreased hunger, less desire for sugary foods, and enhanced feelings of fullness compared to the control group (25Trusted Source).
Chia seeds are loaded with soluble fiber, which can keep you feeling full throughout the day.
Fish is rich in protein and heart-healthy fats.
For instance, a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of cod provides 13 grams of protein and under 60 calories (26Trusted Source).
Some research points out that increasing protein intake can decrease appetite and reduce levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger (17Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
What’s more, fish protein may be especially beneficial for reducing hunger levels and appetite.
One study evaluating the effects of beef, chicken, and fish protein showed that fish protein had the greatest impact on feelings of fullness (28Trusted Source).
While lean fish like cod and halibut have the least calories, higher calorie fish like salmon and mackerel provide omega-3 fatty acids that are necessary for overall health.
Fish is high in protein, which can increase feelings of fullness and reduce appetite and hunger.
- Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is a great source of protein and an excellent snack.
Cottage cheese nutrition
One cup (226 grams) of low fat cottage cheese packs about 28 grams of protein and just 163 calories (29Trusted Source).
Multiple studies demonstrate that increasing your protein intake from foods like cottage cheese can decrease appetite and hunger levels (17Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
Some research also suggests that eating protein can prolong feelings of fullness (30Trusted Source).
What’s more, one study involving 30 healthy adults showed that cottage cheese and eggs had similar effects on fullness (31Trusted Source).
Cottage cheese is high in protein, which can decrease appetite and keep you feeling full.
Potatoes are often dismissed as unhealthy and harmful due to their association with high fat french fries and potato chips.
However, the truth is, potatoes can be filling and an important part of a nutrient-rich diet.
One medium baked potato with the skin contains 161 calories, but it also provides 4 grams each of protein and fiber (32Trusted Source).
In fact, a study evaluating the effects of certain foods on satiety — or fullness — ranked boiled potatoes as the most filling, with a score of 323 on the satiety index — nearly seven times higher than croissants (33Trusted Source).
Animal and human studies indicate that the filling effects of potatoes may involve potato protease inhibitors, which are compounds that can reduce appetite and decrease food intake to boost fullness (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).
Potatoes rank as one of the world’s most filling foods. They supply a specific compound that may decrease appetite and food intake.
- Lean meat
Lean meat can efficiently reduce hunger and appetite between meals.
Lean meats like chicken, turkey, and low fat cuts of red meat are low in calories but loaded with protein.
Lean meat nutrition
For example, 4 ounces (113 grams) of cooked chicken breast contains about 163 calories and 32 grams of protein (36Trusted Source).
Research suggests that insufficient protein intake could increase hunger and appetite, while eating more protein can reduce calorie intake and hunger levels (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
In one study, people who ate a high protein meal including meat consumed 12% less food by weight at dinner than those who ate a high carb, meatless meal (39Trusted Source).
Lean meats are high in protein, which can reduce calorie intake and hunger.
Because of their high protein and fiber content, legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils can be incredibly filling.
One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils provides about 230 calories, as well as 15.6 grams of fiber and nearly 18 grams of protein (40Trusted Source).
Multiple studies have shown that legumes have a powerful effect on hunger and appetite.
One study involving 43 young adults noted that a high protein meal with beans and peas increased feelings of fullness and reduced appetite and hunger more than a high protein meal with veal and pork (41Trusted Source).
Another review of nine studies reported that people felt 31% more full after eating pulses, a type of legume, compared to high carb meals of pasta and bread (42Trusted Source).
Legumes, which are high in protein and fiber, are associated with reduced appetite and hunger, as well as increased feelings of fullness.
Watermelon has a high water content to keep you hydrated and full while supplying a minimal number of calories.
One cup (152 grams) of diced watermelon contains 46 calories alongside an assortment of essential micronutrients like vitamins A and C (43Trusted Source).
Eating foods with a low calorie density, such as watermelon, has been shown to have similar effects on feelings of fullness and hunger compared to high-calorie-density foods (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source).
Plus, foods with a lower calorie density have been linked to decreased calorie intake (44Trusted Source).
In fact, in one study involving 49 people, replacing oat cookies with an equal number of calories from fruit significantly reduced calorie intake and body weight (46Trusted Source).
Watermelon’s high water content and low calorie density could promote fullness and reduce calorie intake.
The bottom line
Cutting back on calories doesn’t mean you have to constantly feel hungry or unsatisfied between meals.
Eating a wide variety of filling foods with plenty of protein and fiber can help prevent cravings and decrease hunger.
Paired with an active lifestyle and well-rounded diet, these low calorie foods can keep you fulfilled throughout the day.