The benefits of high-protein, low carb foods
High-protein, low-carb foods have become popular, thanks to trendy diets like ketogenic, paleo and Atkin’s. And the reason why this type of diet – eating foods higher in one macronutrient and lower in another – works for some people comes down to the fullness factor.
“Typically, protein-rich foods take longer to digest,” says Kristen Smith, a registered dietitian. “So increasing your consumption of protein-rich foods, increases satiety and can, therefore, aid in weight-loss because you can become more satisfied by eating less food.” Also, by eating fewer carbs, your body can learn to burn more fat as fuel, while excessive carb intake can cause your body to store more fat, Smith explains.
Research also shows that a low-carb diet can help increase your daily energy expenditure (or calories burned) when looking to maintain weight loss. And studies back up the fact that eating plans high in protein can increase satiety and help control the number on the scale.
But two important caveats come up when you turn mostly to high-protein, low-carb foods. For starters, you still need to pay attention to saturated fat – too much is bad for heart health – and those with kidney disease should probably avoid this plan, Smith says.
Also, without many carbs in your diet, you might start craving ingredients like pasta, bread and potatoes. “If you follow a diet and it provides results but leaves you feeling unsatisfied or craving more, then it might not be the diet for you,” says Angel Planells, a registered dietitian and nutritionist. In other words, make sure you stick to a diet plan that works for you, featuring foods that leave you satisfied, not deprived. For specific ingredient suggestions, we rounded up the high-protein, low-carb foods to add to your meal plan, according to Planells and Smith.
Serving size: 1 large hardboiled or scramble
6 g protein; <1 g carbs
Not just a breakfast food, hardboiled eggs taste great on salads or as a stand-alone snack. Both Smith and Planells recommend it as a top food to choose.
Serving size: 85 grams
20 g protein; 0 g carbs
An easy addition to salads, grain bowls or as a main meal, chicken breast will fill you up thanks to that high-protein content. Aim to keep portions the size of your fist to get your fill and use healthier cooking methods (baked, roasted, grilled, etc.) versus frying.