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Published on August 6, 2021

13 High-Protein And Low-Fat Foods For A Healthy Diet

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13 High-Protein And Low-Fat Foods For A Healthy Diet

We must take in high-protein foods to stay healthy. Protein is an essential part of any balanced diet and functions to repair worn-out tissues and build the body while also maintaining the normal functionality of the body’s systems. But what happens when the high-protein foods around us also contain too much fat and calories than we need? This would mean that we have to choose.

Here are a number of high-protein and low-fat foods for a healthy diet.

1. Plain Yogurt (Greek Yogurt)

In contrast to normal yogurt, plain or Greek yogurt is made by removing liquid whey during processing. What this does is that it produces a much more protein-rich kind of yogurt with less fat and a more creamy texture. If you are looking for high-protein and low-fat food, then this is a good pick.

It’s safe to say that 170 grams of Greek yogurt contain approximately 20 grams of protein.[1] You can have a Greek yogurt drink alongside a low-calorie snack like cheese or eggs. The good news is that you can even consider it a late-night snack because of the tryptophan it contains as tryptophan helps improve sleep quality.

2. White-Meat Poultry

White meat does not only taste good, but it contains a remarkable amount of essential proteins, too. On average, 100-grams of boiled or roasted turkey contains approximately around 30 grams of protein—that much![2]

Most of the protein content in white meat is concentrated around the breasts and wings. This means that chicken or turkey breasts contain less fat than the other parts, such as the legs, thighs, etc would contain.

Even the skin of poultry contains more fat than the breasts! For a high-protein, low-fat food, you can have poultry meat stripped of skin.

3. Egg Whites

More than half of the protein content of regular eggs is present in these eggs as the egg white. Agreed, the yolk contains a list of other great nutrients like cholesterol, but it also contains a large amount of fat and calories.

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If you are seeking to pick a meal with little fat but high protein content, then we advise you to stick to eating just egg whites. Egg whites contain more protein and less fat than the yolk.[3]

Like yogurt, they can also be a great choice for late-night snacks as their protein content can improve the quality of your sleep.

4. Milk

Milk contains a variety of nutrients in the right proportion, and it is a great pick if you are seeking high-protein low-fat foods. Some of the nutrients in milk are calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12.

Low-fat milk can be obtained as skimmed or dry milk. It tastes good and is good for you. Calcium is great for your bones and so are the other nutrients milk contains.

Please note, however, that milk might not be so great a pick for you if you suffer lactose intolerance as it can trigger diarrhea and gas.

5. Tuna Fish

Tuna is a healthy protein meal, anytime, any day. It is a fish found in saltwater. Its flesh yields high protein and little fat and calories. It also yields vitamins and some other great nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids that act as antioxidants.

Tuna can be boiled and eaten hot or taken in combination with a variety of vegetables and—to some people—even cheese. It tastes good and is great for you even as a late-night snack. However, eating fried tuna fish isn’t so great because oil contains a lot of calories.

6. Shrimp

Shrimps are great seafood. They look like crawfish but are a bit larger. A great pick for a low-fat, high-protein diet, shrimps contain high contents of other nutrients such as Selenium and Riboflavin. Like most fatty acids, it contains Omega-3 fatty acids.

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The calories in shrimp are so low that about 3-ounces of shrimp contains about 20 grams of protein but barely 84 calories.[4]

Some people show allergic reactions after taking in seafood. This is due to underlying allergies, a situation where the body considers some compounds in seafood as antigens and attempts to fight against them. If you show allergic reactions after eating seafood, then you might want to refrain from taking them.

7. Bison

Bison, known by some as Buffalo, is considered more healthy and relatively fat-free compared to beef. It is believed that beef has almost double the amount of fat as does bison per ounce.[5]

Bison contains a lot of other nutrients and in larger quantities than beef. It also contains Omega-3 fatty acids and ALA.

Yes, Bison is not red meat, and red meat is mostly not advisable. But compared to beef, it is considered leaner meat and passes as a high-protein, low-fat food.

8. Low-Fat Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a protein-rich food. And even better, it contains low fat and calories. It tastes good and kids love it.

Cheese contains calcium, which is great for the development of bones and strong teeth. Most manufacturers even add Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb and make use of its calcium and is great for the parathyroid glands.

Cottage cheese can be flavored to suit demands. It goes along with other low-fat drinks and is a great late-night snack. Taking some cheese with Greek yogurt just before bed is great!

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9. White-Fleshed Fish

White-fleshed fish are high protein-yielding meals and contain very little fat. 100 grams of plainly cooked white-fleshed fish should contain around 25 grams of protein and roughly 120 calories.[6]

White-fleshed fish contains anti-inflammatory fatty acids, such as ALA and Omega-3 fatty acids. They include tilapia fish, Pollock, flounder, haddock, etc.

If you live in a riverain area, it might be easy to get white-fleshed fish as they are most probably sold in beach markets. But if you don’t, you can get white-fleshed fish in marts and stores. You’d get them as frozen food.

10. Legumes

Legumes are a group of plants in the family Fabaceae. A subgroup of legumes called pulses is a great source of protein and fiber yet contains low fat and calories. Pulses include beans, peas, and lentils. 100 grams of pulses are believed to average 8 grams of protein and a low percentage of calories compared to other foods.

Fibers contained in pulses and a variety of other foods are known to have an effect in lowering blood pressure and may help one pass out stool better. Fibers also aid digestive functions and defecation. Legumes can also be considered a healthy late-night meal.

11. Tofu

Tofu is made from soybean and is a constituent of most vegetarian meals. It yields a high content of protein, and plant-based protein is rich in essential amino acids.

Tofu also contains isoflavones. These antioxidants, isoflavones, are great at helping against heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and immune system disorders.

Vegetarians can substitute meat with Tofu. It even has that stringy texture meat gives. So yes, it’s a great substitute! Tofu is also a great source of vitamins, as are other plant products.

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12. Liver

Liver is one of the most nutritious foods there is. The variety of nutrients it contains is vast. It contains folate, which is a B-vitamin and is needed to produce red and white blood cells in the body.

Liver contains Vitamin B, also known as riboflavin, which is essential to promote normal bodily functions, as well as iron, which is a major constituent of hemoglobin in red blood cells. It also contains copper, which is essential for thyroid function.

Although liver contains some amount of cholesterol and high calories, its high-protein and nutrient content makes up for this.

13. Guava

Guava yields a lot of protein and fibers. Still, it has few calories and so, would pass as a great pick for a low-fat, high-protein diet. It also contains almost thrice the number of vitamins contained in five medium oranges.

Guava tastes good and can serve a variety of functions. It can be blended into a smoothie and taken alongside cheese, or you can just eat it the way it is.

Summary

Low-fat, high-protein meals are great therapy for weight loss. Fat is known to cause health concerns when taken in excess. It could cause belly fat, weight gain, and even heart problems. This is why we are advised to stick to low-fat meals.

Proteinous foods, most of the time, are great low-fat meals, delivering a high content of protein and at the same time a low content of fatty acids and cholesterol.

When choosing low-calorie, high-protein foods, fish, white poultry, etc, are a great pick. Remember to always eat healthily.

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Featured photo credit: Danijela Prijovic via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sara Leandro

Sara Leandro is a certified health coach who helps people make lifestyle changes that meet their unique needs and health goals.

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Published on August 24, 2021

What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein
  • Nuts
  • Water

This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

What Is a Whole Food Diet?

By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

  • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
  • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Berries five times a week
  • Five or more servings of nuts a week
  • Olive oil five times a week
  • Whole grains five times a week
  • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
  • Legumes and pulses five times a week
  • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
  • Vitamin D supplement
  • Minimally processed foods
  • No more than one glass of wine a day
  • One or two coffee or tea a day max
  • Two liters of water a day

That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

Whole Foods and the Gut

Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

Whole Foods and the Brain

The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

  • Oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Whole grains

Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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1. Practice Batch Cooking

Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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Reference

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