If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s no secret that you need to restrict your calories…
Weight loss is simple.
Your body burns a certain number of calories every single day in order to function.
If you consume less calories than what you’re body burns you’ll be running a caloric deficit.
The leftover calories your body needs will be taken from fat and/or muscle storages in your body!
You lose weight!
But hang on a second! You said our body will burn “fat and/or muscle” in a caloric deficit.
You’re probably saying “I wanna burn fat, not muscle!”
And you’re right! Everybody wants to lose fat and retain muscle. That’s what gives you that nice sculpted figure!
That’s why this article is called “high protein low-calorie foods.” If you keep your protein high in a caloric deficit, you’ll maintain much more muscle mass than if you consumed lower amounts of protein.
So keep your protein high and your calories low! That’s the secret to maintaining muscle in a weight loss phase.
With that being said, there are a lot of foods that can help us achieve the goal of high protein and low caloric diet.
Let’s take a look at these foods you need to be eating!
While most nuts and seeds are high in calories, I added hemp seeds because their protein to calorie ratio is insane!
Just 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds has 10g of protein and just 170 calories!
That’s right, you don’t need a lot of hemp seeds to get a protein packed snack.
Add hemp seeds to your pre or post-workout shake to give you an extra boost. And at 170 calories, you won’t have to worry about going over your caloric maintenance levels.
Hemp seeds also have a ton of nutritional benefits like:
- Antioxidants for brain health
- Fiber for digestive health
- Omega 3 fatty acids for
- Heart health
- Skin health
- Reducing inflammation
- Protection against arthritis
One of the premier sources of plant-based protein, this stuff is packed with muscle building properties from head to toe.
Seitan is a ‘meat substitute’ that is made from vital wheat gluten – a type of flour.
If you’re looking to make seitan at home (which I highly recommend), try purchasing ‘Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten.’ It’s super cheap and you’ll get a whole lot of seitan out of it.
Now as for seitan itself. You’ll get about 46g of protein and 240 calories per ¼ cup (if you use Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten).
That’s a whole lot of protein!
Cook up a whole batch of it and you’ll be able to meal prep it for the week!
If you’re looking for a fantastic seitan recipe, I highly recommend this one! The page is in French but your browser should easily be able to translate everything.
A form of soy protein, tempeh is the cousin to tofu.
Most tofu is firm but soft. Tempeh is much harder and grainier but it still tastes fantastic!
Throw it in a bowl with some oil, add seasoning of your choice and voila! Add it to salads, pasta, bowls, and anything else you please!
100g of tempeh (3.5 oz) has over 18 grams of protein and only 197 calories!
Find it at your local vegan friendly supermarkets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to get the best and healthiest versions.
Other soy products like tofu, soy milk, and edamame are also great substitutes for tempeh. They’re high in protein but not too high in calories (depending on the brand.)
Good ole’ protein powder!
For a lot of people, protein powder is a God’s Send to massive and quick muscle gains. But the truth is, protein powder is a supplement and should only be used as such.
It’s only to be used when you are not getting enough protein throughout your day and it shouldn’t replace any of the real whole foods you should be eating.
That being said, protein powder is still a fantastic tool, especially when going through with a weight loss program.
Protein powders can help keep you feeling full throughout the day.
They are also quick and super easy to make!
My personal favorite protein powder is Orgain, which can be purchased in a 2 pound tub here on Amazon for only $26.
Not only is it delicious tasting, but it also contains real whole ingredients like:
- Sacha Inchi Seed
- Brown Rice Protein
- Pea Protein
- Chia Seed
Mixing these different protein sources together provides a fantastic amino acid profile and great muscle building properties.
Orgain also has 21g of protein and only 150 calories per serving (2 small scoops.)
Other protein powders will have similar numbers so don’t be afraid to do your own research and find a delicious tasting protein powder that works for you!
High Protein Foods You Should Limit
With every push comes a pull.
With every force comes an opposite force.
The same goes for food.
So while there’s plenty of great food for you to eat while cutting weight, there’s equally, if not more bad choices.
Heres a few foods you should limit when trying to cut weight.
I love nut butters like almond butter, peanut butter, and sunflower seed butter.
And yes, they do contain a bit of protein.
Usually around 7-8g for every two tablespoons. Unfortunately, they also carry quite a bit of calories (around 200 cals per two tablespoons.)
So while it might be tempting to add a nut butter to your protein shake or munch on as a quick snack, you’ll be getting a lot of calories in.
It’s best to try to limit them as much as possible and only consume them once in a while.
You might be wondering why oatmeal is on the list?
And it’s true! Oatmeal is a fantastic and super healthy superfood! It even helps support weight loss!
So why do I try to limit the amount of oatmeal I eat when cutting weight?
Because it’s high in calories.
And yes, while it does have protein, it would take a significant amount of servings of protein to give you a significant boost in protein alone.
The issue is that you would pass over your caloric maintenance level before reaching your daily protein goals if you ate a lot of oatmeal. That’s not what we want.
In fact, this can be said about many forms of carbs.
For example, rice and pasta have some protein as well. But they’re high in calories, making them not the ideal choice when cutting weight.
That’s why many bodybuilders will cut a lot of carbohydrates out of their diet and replace them with low calorie vegetables when attempting to burn fat.
Beyond Burger, Impossible Burger, Gardein Wings, or whatever other fake meat you eat.
Yes, they are delicious and yes they are also very high in protein.
But they’re also packed with sodium, oil, calories, and lots of fat.
Not the best combination when trying to lose weight.
The real reason I’m telling you to limit your consumption of these products is because they’re not all that healthy.
Once in awhile is okay but every day and every meal is far too much.
Stick to real whole foods and you’ll not only feel better but look better too.