Best High Protein Low Calorie Foods: The Ultimate Guide

Best High Protein Low-Calorie Foods: The Ultimate Guide

In today’s health-conscious world, high-protein, low-calorie foods have become increasingly popular for their numerous benefits. These foods are an essential part of any well-balanced diet, particularly for those looking to lose weight or build muscle.

Protein plays a vital role in weight loss and muscle building, as it helps to maintain and repair tissues, regulate metabolism, and keep you feeling fuller for longer. By consuming high-protein, low-calorie foods, you can effectively curb your hunger, reduce your overall calorie intake, and support your body’s muscle-building processes.

Additionally, low-calorie diets have been associated with various health benefits, such as improved heart health, better blood sugar control, and increased energy levels. By incorporating high-protein, low-calorie foods into your daily meal plan, you can optimize your health and achieve your fitness goals more efficiently.

In this guide, we will explore the best high-protein, low-calorie foods for weight loss, muscle building, and overall health. We will also discuss how to incorporate these foods into your diet and the common mistakes to avoid while choosing high-protein, low-calorie foods. Let’s dive in and discover the ultimate list of high-protein, low-calorie foods to help you reach your health and fitness goals.

Table of Contents

Top 10 High Protein Low-Calorie Foods for Weight Loss

  1. Chicken Breast: One of the leanest sources of animal protein, chicken breast is low in fat and high in protein, making it an excellent choice for weight loss. A 100g serving contains about 31g of protein and only 165 calories.
  2. Turkey: Another lean protein source, turkey is packed with essential nutrients and is low in fat. A 100g serving of turkey breast provides approximately 29g of protein and 157 calories.
  3. Greek Yogurt: Greek yoghurt is a great source of protein and probiotics. It is thicker and creamier than regular yoghurt, providing more protein and fewer calories. A 170g serving of nonfat Greek yoghurt contains around 17g of protein and only 100 calories.
  4. Tofu: Tofu is a versatile plant-based protein option that is low in calories and rich in nutrients. A 100g serving of firm tofu contains around 8g of protein and just 70 calories.
  5. Cottage Cheese: This dairy product is low in calories and high in protein, making it an ideal snack or addition to your meals. A 100g serving of low-fat cottage cheese provides approximately 12g of protein and 90 calories.
  6. Lentils: Lentils are a great plant-based protein source and are also high in fibre, which can help with weight loss. A 100g serving of cooked lentils contains around 9g of protein and 116 calories.
  7. Beans: Beans, such as black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas, are high in protein and fibre, making them an excellent addition to a weight loss diet. A 100g serving of cooked black beans provides approximately 9g of protein and 132 calories.
  8. Quinoa: Quinoa is a gluten-free, whole grain that is high in protein and low in calories. A 100g serving of cooked quinoa contains around 4g of protein and 120 calories.
  9. Egg Whites: Egg whites are a low-calorie, high-protein food that can be easily incorporated into your meals. One large egg white contains around 3.6g of protein and only 17 calories.
  10. Fish: Fish, such as tuna, salmon, and cod, are excellent sources of lean protein and healthy fats. A 100g serving of cooked tuna contains about 30g of protein and 144 calories, while a similar serving of cooked salmon provides around 20g of protein and 208 calories.
FoodServing SizeProtein ContentCalorie Count
Chicken Breast100g31g165
Greek Yogurt170g17g100
Cottage Cheese100g12g90
Egg Whites1 large egg3.6g17

Incorporating these top 10 high-protein, low-calorie foods into your diet can help you achieve your weight loss goals while ensuring that you’re getting the essential nutrients your body needs.


High Protein Low-Calorie Snacks to Keep You Full and Energized

  1. Protein Bars: Protein bars are a convenient on-the-go snack that can keep you full and energized between meals. Look for bars with minimal added sugars and at least 10g of protein per serving.
  2. Greek Yogurt with Berries: Combine nonfat Greek yoghurt with a handful of berries for a delicious, protein-packed snack that’s also rich in antioxidants and fibre.
  3. Beef Jerky: Beef jerky is a portable, high-protein snack that can help curb your hunger. Opt for low-sodium, minimally processed options to keep your snack healthy.
  4. Hummus and Veggies: Pairing hummus with sliced veggies like carrots, bell peppers, and cucumbers is a satisfying, protein-rich snack that provides essential nutrients and fibre.
  5. Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter: Spread a tablespoon of natural peanut butter on a rice cake for a quick, protein-packed snack that also provides healthy fats and fibre.
  6. Cottage Cheese and Fruit: Enjoy a serving of low-fat cottage cheese with your favourite fruit for a snack that’s high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals.
  7. Edamame: Steamed edamame is a great plant-based snack that is high in protein, low in calories, and rich in essential nutrients like fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
  8. Roasted Chickpeas: Roasted chickpeas are a crunchy, high-protein snack that can help keep you full and energized. Season them with your favourite spices for added flavour.
SnackProtein ContentCalorie Count
Protein Bars10g or moreVaries
Greek Yogurt with Berries17g (170g)100
Beef Jerky9g (28g)70
Hummus and Veggies4g (2 tbsp hummus, 1 cup veggies)150
Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter4g (1 rice cake, 1 tbsp peanut butter)85
Cottage Cheese and Fruit12g (100g cottage cheese)90-150
Edamame8g (1/2 cup)95
Roasted Chickpeas6g (1/2 cup)120

These high-protein, low-calorie snacks are perfect for keeping you full and energized throughout the day. By incorporating these snacks into your daily routine, you can effectively manage your hunger, support your weight loss goals, and maintain your energy levels.

Plant-Based Protein Sources That Are Low in Calories

  1. Lentils: A versatile legume, lentils are packed with protein and fibre, while being low in calories. They can be used in soups, salads, or as a side dish to boost the protein content of your meal.
  2. Chickpeas: Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are another protein-rich, low-calorie legume. They can be used in various dishes such as hummus, salads, or stir-fries.
  3. Tofu: Made from soybeans, tofu is a great plant-based protein source that is low in calories. It can be used in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to smoothies, and easily takes on the flavours of whatever it’s cooked with.
  4. Tempeh: Another soy-based protein source, tempeh is slightly higher in protein content than tofu and has a firmer texture. It’s a low-calorie option that can be used in stir-fries, sandwiches, or salads.
FoodProtein ContentCalorie CountWays to Use
Lentils9g (100g)116Soups, salads, side dishes, curries
Chickpeas9g (100g)364Hummus, salads, stews, stir-fries
Tofu8g (100g)70-150Stir-fries, smoothies, soups, salads, dips
Tempeh18g (100g)192Stir-fries, sandwiches, salads, stews

Incorporating these plant-based protein sources into your diet can help you meet your protein needs while keeping your calorie intake low. Additionally, these foods offer a variety of health benefits, such as improved digestion, better heart health, and increased energy levels.

Best High Protein Low-Calorie Breakfast Options to Start Your Day

  1. Protein Smoothie: Blend together a scoop of protein powder, a cup of unsweetened almond milk, a handful of spinach, and half a cup of frozen berries for a quick, protein-packed breakfast. This smoothie provides essential nutrients, antioxidants, and fibre to kickstart your day.
  2. Egg White Omelette with Veggies: Whip up an egg white omelette filled with your favourite veggies, like spinach, tomatoes, and bell peppers. This low-calorie breakfast is high in protein and packed with vitamins and minerals to support your overall health.
  3. Greek Yogurt Parfait: Layer nonfat Greek yoghurt, high-protein granola, and fresh fruit for a delicious and nutritious breakfast parfait. This option is high in protein, low in calories, and provides a good amount of fibre and essential nutrients.
  4. Overnight Chia Pudding: Mix chia seeds with unsweetened almond milk, a splash of vanilla extract, and a pinch of cinnamon. Refrigerate overnight and top with fresh fruit and nuts in the morning for a protein-rich, low-calorie breakfast that’s also high in fibre and healthy fats.
  5. Quinoa Breakfast Bowl: Prepare a quinoa breakfast bowl with cooked quinoa, almond milk, a drizzle of honey, and your choice of fruit and nuts. This breakfast is high in protein, low in calories, and offers a satisfying, nutrient-dense start to your day.

These high-protein, low-calorie breakfast options can help you start your day feeling energized and satisfied, setting you up for success in your weight loss and fitness journey. By incorporating these options into your morning routine, you’ll be well on your way to meeting your health and wellness goals.

High Protein Low-Calorie Recipes for Muscle Building and Recovery

  1. Grilled Chicken and Veggie Skewers: Marinate chicken breast chunks in your favourite low-calorie sauce and skewer them with a variety of colourful veggies. Grill until cooked through. This high-protein, the low-calorie meal is perfect for post-workout recovery and muscle building.
  2. Broccoli and Chickpea Stir-Fry: Sauté broccoli, chickpeas, and your choice of vegetables in a bit of olive oil with garlic and ginger. Add a splash of low-sodium soy sauce for extra flavour. This plant-based dish is high in protein and low in calories, ideal for fueling your body after a workout.
  3. Tuna and Avocado Lettuce Wraps: Combine canned tuna, diced avocado, and a bit of Greek yoghurt for a creamy, protein-packed filling. Serve in lettuce leaves for a low-calorie, high-protein meal that’s perfect for muscle recovery.
  4. Egg White and Vegetable Frittata: Whisk together egg whites and your favourite chopped veggies. Pour into a greased oven-safe dish and bake until set. This low-calorie, high-protein frittata is a delicious and nutritious meal to support muscle growth and recovery.
  5. Protein-Packed Lentil Soup: Combine cooked lentils, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, and a variety of vegetables in a pot. Simmer until the flavours meld and the vegetables are tender. This high-protein, low-calorie soup is perfect for replenishing your body after a workout.
  6. Quinoa and Black Bean Salad: Toss cooked quinoa, black beans, diced bell peppers, and your favourite herbs in a light vinaigrette dressing. This protein-rich, low-calorie salad is excellent for promoting muscle building and recovery.

These high-protein, low-calorie recipes are not only perfect for muscle building and recovery, but they also provide essential nutrients to support your overall health and wellness. If you’re interested in learning more about nutrition and exercise, consider pursuing a Personal Trainer Diploma to expand your knowledge and help others achieve their fitness goals.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing High Protein Low-Calorie Foods

  1. Overlooking portion sizes: Even high-protein, low-calorie foods can contribute to weight gain if consumed in large quantities. Be mindful of portion sizes and stick to recommended serving sizes to avoid overeating.
  2. Ignoring overall nutritional value: Focusing solely on protein content can lead to an unbalanced diet. Ensure that you’re consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, in addition to high-protein, low-calorie options.
  3. Choosing processed options: Processed high-protein foods can contain added sugars, unhealthy fats, and excessive sodium. Opt for whole, unprocessed protein sources whenever possible.
  4. Forgetting about fibre: A diet high in protein but low in fibre can lead to digestive issues. Incorporate fibre-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to maintain a healthy digestive system.
  5. Neglecting hydration: High-protein diets can increase your body’s need for water. Ensure that you’re staying adequately hydrated throughout the day, especially when consuming a high-protein diet.
  6. Overemphasis on animal protein: Consuming too much animal protein can lead to excessive saturated fat intake. Include plant-based protein sources in your diet for a balanced approach.
  7. Not considering food allergies or intolerances: Be aware of any food allergies or intolerances you may have when choosing high-protein, low-calorie foods. Select protein sources that are safe for you to consume.

High Protein Low-Calorie Meal Prep Ideas for Busy Weekdays

  1. Grilled chicken and vegetable bowls: Prepare grilled chicken breasts and a variety of roasted vegetables at the beginning of the week. Divide the chicken and vegetables into individual containers for a quick, high-protein, low-calorie meal option throughout the week. Benefits: Packed with lean protein and nutrient-dense vegetables, this meal prep idea helps support weight loss, muscle building, and overall health.
  2. Protein-packed salads: Prepare a large batch of salad greens and your choice of protein, such as grilled chicken, tofu, or beans. Add your favourite low-calorie dressing and store it in separate containers for easy weekday lunches. Benefits: These salads are high in protein, fibre, and essential nutrients, supporting a healthy and balanced diet.
  3. Overnight oats with Greek yoghurt: Combine rolled oats, Greek yoghurt, and your choice of fruit, nuts, or seeds in individual containers. Store in the refrigerator overnight for a convenient high-protein, low-calorie breakfast option. Benefits: This meal prep idea is rich in protein, fibre, and healthy fats, providing sustained energy and promoting fullness throughout the morning.
  4. Egg muffins: Prepare a batch of egg muffins by combining whisked eggs, vegetables, and a lean protein source like turkey or chicken. Bake in a muffin tin and store in the refrigerator for a grab-and-go breakfast or snack. Benefits: Egg muffins are a portable, high-protein, low-calorie option that supports weight management and muscle growth.
  5. Quinoa and bean salad: Cook quinoa and mix it with beans, chopped vegetables, and a light vinaigrette. Divide into individual containers for an easy, high-protein, low-calorie lunch option. Benefits: This meal prep idea is rich in plant-based protein, fibre, and essential nutrients, supporting overall health and wellness.

By incorporating these high-protein, low-calorie meal prep ideas into your busy weekdays, you can save time and maintain a balanced and nutritious diet. These meals are not only convenient but also provide essential nutrients to support weight loss, muscle building, and overall health.



In summary, high-protein, low-calorie foods play a vital role in a healthy diet. By incorporating these foods into your daily meals, you can support weight loss, muscle building, and overall health and wellness. Some of the benefits of consuming high-protein, low-calorie foods include increased satiety, better weight management, improved muscle recovery and growth, and enhanced metabolic function.

By selecting a variety of lean meats, fish, dairy products, and plant-based protein sources, you can create a diverse and balanced diet that meets your nutritional needs. Additionally, meal planning and preparation can help you stay on track with your high-protein, low-calorie goals, ensuring that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle even during busy weekdays.

Remember to always consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before making significant changes to your diet to ensure that you are meeting your individual nutritional requirements. With proper planning and mindful eating, high-protein, low-calorie foods can be a powerful tool in achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


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