When hunger strikes, foods that are high in protein might be just what you need to keep you full and satisfied. In fact, a diet high in protein may help promote weight loss, as protein tends to curb hunger better than carbohydrates and fats. Thus, a high-protein diet can help you eat fewer calories and create a calorie deficit for weight loss. To ensure that you are getting the hunger-fighting benefits of a high-protein diet, eat a quality source of lean protein at all meals and snacks.
Milk, cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese provide an excellent source of protein. Choose low-fat or fat-free varieties in order to limit your unhealthy saturated fat intake. Yogurt, with 12 grams of protein per cup, and cottage cheese, with 15 grams of protein per 1/2 cup make for great breakfast options when paired with fruit. Snack on a 1-ounce serving of cheese with a few whole-grain crackers for 7 grams of protein. As an added bonus, dairy products are high in bone-building calcium.
With about 7 grams of protein per ounce, fish provides an excellent lean source of satisfying protein. Choose to grill or broil fish with a little olive oil and herbs or spices for a healthy preparation. Salmon, tuna, tilapia and cod are a few nutritious options to try. A serving of fish is 3 ounces of cooked fish. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that you enjoy fish at least two times per week because of the heart-healthy fats it contains.
Eggs get a bad reputation due to their cholesterol content, yet they are an excellent lean source of muscle-building protein. One large egg contains 6 grams of protein. The cholesterol in an egg is found only in the yolk, so you need to be cautious of how many egg yolks you consume. According to MayoClinic.com, you can eat up to four egg yolks a week without it impacting your cholesterol level. Egg whites and egg substitutes are still high in protein and you can enjoy these more frequently. Scrambled eggs can provide a filling breakfast and hard-boiled eggs make for a convenient healthy snack.
Nuts are not only high in protein, but they are also a good source of healthy fats. One ounce of nuts has about 7 grams of protein, while 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contain about 8 grams of protein. Keep servings of nuts and nut butters in check, as eating too much can add a lot of extra calories. Nuts, like almonds, cashews or pistachios make for a filling snack, or add peanut butter to apples, celery or crackers to keep you satisfied.
Beans, such as black beans, pinto beans or chickpeas contain 7 to 10 grams of protein per 1/2 cup. Not only will the protein in beans keep you full, but beans are also an excellent source of filling fiber. Beans are also a very inexpensive source of protein, so add beans to salads, pasta, soup and tacos instead of meat for a healthy, cost-saving meal.
Soy and Soy Products
Soy beans, or edamame, are another protein packed option with 14 grams per 1/2 cup. Tofu, made from soy beans, offers 9 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving. Edamame or dry roasted soy beans make for unique, tasty snack options. You can add tofu to stir-fries and smoothies to increase the protein content. You can also use tofu in place of eggs to make scrambled tofu.
Ann Jensen is a registered dietitian with experience in nutrition education and counseling. She has written numerous nutrition education, weight loss and fitness articles for various publications.