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41 High Protein Low Calorie Foods for Weight Loss

Let’s dive into forty-one high-protein low-calorie foods you can rely on with your cooking. These are essential whether you’re shooting for weight loss or trying to build muscle.

Living a high-protein lifestyle is the latest trend these days and a good one at that.

Your body needs protein to build and repair muscle, generate long-lasting energy, and form essential enzymes.

Aside from all these helpful benefits, protein is also a great macronutrient to rely on for weight loss. High protein food sources last longer in your system, helping you feel full for longer.

Aiming for a calorie deficit? Eating protein-heavy meals can be a great way to satisfy you even when you’re eating fewer calories.

I know the struggle of attempting to eat high-protein meals and having nowhere to begin. Sometimes, the best place to start is with the ingredients themselves.

Low calorie High Protein Foods

Before We Get Started:

Calorie deficits are an effective way to lose weight. That said, it’s always safest to do a little research and consult your doctor before choosing a number to cut back on!

A good rule of thumb for a calorie deficit is around 500 calories daily. Everyone has different energy needs, which are defined by their body types, activity levels, and genetics.

This means the amount of calories you need will differ from that of anyone else. General advice can be helpful, but your best bet is to see a dietitian or doctor if you can.

So, ensure you’re thorough with your research and listen to your body as you go through this. Hitting a healthy weight for you is a fantastic goal, and I wish you luck on your journey!

1. Salmon


Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a tasty fish that supports the health of your heart. We don’t naturally produce omega-3, which is also good for your brain.

So, eating salmon is a great way to get it. On top of that, it’s also full of protein and low in calories, making it helpful for weight loss.

2. Tuna


Tuna is another lean fish that’s high in protein. The great thing about tuna is that you can enjoy it fresh or you can enjoy it canned. This makes it a really convenient option for mid-week meals.

On top of all that, it’s packed with vitamin D and selenium to boost your immune system. Enjoy it on salads, sandwiches, in wraps, or its own!

3. Chicken Breast

chicken breast

Chicken breast is one of the most celebrated high-protein options in most diets. It’s a lean protein you can cook in many different ways. That’s why it’s so popular!

Enjoy a chicken breast baked in spices, coated and fried, or even as part of a soup. You can eat this every day and not get tired of it.

4. Turkey


Next up on the poultry side of things is turkey! Lean and rich in protein, this is a low-fat bird. It’s a great weight-loss option, providing essential nutrients like iron and zinc.

Enjoy turkey on a salad, a sandwich, or as your main protein at dinner.

5. Halibut


Halibut is a mild-flavored fish that’s high in protein and low in calories. It also contains valuable nutrients such as vitamin B12 and magnesium.

I love halibut because it’s a cheap and easy-to-access option if you’re tired of salmon and tuna. Not to mention, skin-on halibut is delicious at dinner parties.

6. Shrimp


Who doesn’t love a bit of shrimp at dinner? If you’re a seafood lover, this option is for you. Shrimp is naturally low in calories and packed with protein, making it an ideal main course.

It’s also very versatile. Make salads, enjoy shrimp cocktails, or even whip up a high-protein appetizer for your next potluck.

7. Pork Tenderloin

pork tenderloin

Fancy alert! Pork tenderloin is a lean cut of meat found on the most tender part of the pig (hence its name). This also makes it a more expensive option than the other ingredients here.

It’s a wonderful choice for fancy occasions like date nights!

8. Scallops


This is another excellent choice for special occasions. Scallops are a delicious and low-calorie seafood option.

They are protein-rich and contain important minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Well-rounded, versatile, and tasty. What’s not to love?

9. Cod


Cod is a white fish, meaning it’s best enjoyed freshly pan-fried. It’s also packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids, promoting heart and brain health.

Most importantly, this high-protein option is very easy to prepare at home.

10. Venison


Venison is deer meat. It tastes gamier than other red meats, but it’s also leaner, meaning it carries fewer calories per serving. Rich in iron and zinc, it’s a great part of a well-rounded diet.

Hearty flavors are your best bet if you’re new to cooking with venison! Balance with a side of roasted vegetables, and you’re good to go.

11. Crab


Crab is a low-calorie seafood choice with a huge dose of protein hidden inside. Providing essential nutrients, this is a super versatile option common in many Asian dishes.

Experiment with including this underrated protein in your weekly meals, from sushi to stir fry.

12. Eggs


Eggs are one of the best ways to incorporate protein into your diet, in my opinion! Enjoy them at breakfast, lunch, or dinner in various cuisines.

From Japanese to Turkish meals to the classic American fry-up, these are a great source of low-calorie protein.

13. Greek Yogurt

greek yogurt

Next up is Greek yogurt. Creamy and protein-packed, this classic dairy product has much less sugar and more protein than regular yogurt. This makes it a great substitute.

Whether you enjoy granola in the mornings or need some dairy for your smoothie, this is the way to go.

14. Cottage Cheese

cottage cheese

Let’s face it: we all need some cheese in our lives. But if you’re aiming for a lower-calorie substitution, cottage cheese has got your back.

Packed with protein and low in fats, this is a nutrient-dense cheese substitute you can keep in your fridge. Simply whip the lid off, add to your meal, and you’re done! It’s also great as a dip.

15. Protein Powder

protein powder

Sometimes, it’s hard to get as much protein into your diet as you’d like. That’s when you can call on protein powder. Great before or after a workout, protein powder is ultra-convenient.

Enjoy it in a balanced smoothie to ensure you get other essential vitamins and nutrients.

16. Swiss Cheese

swiss cheese

The Swiss variety is lower on the fat scale than the others in the realm of cheeses. It adds a rich taste, helping satisfy those cheese cravings and adding extra protein.

17. Cheese Curds

cheese curds

Speaking of including cheese in your diet, here’s another high-protein option to fight those cheesy cravings!

Cheese curds are fresh chunks of cheese before they are pressed into a solid form.

They are a tasty, high-protein snack that can be enjoyed independently or as part of various dishes. Curds and gravy, anyone?

18. Wild Rice

wild rice

Wild rice, with its chewy texture and nutty flavor, is a high-protein, low-calorie whole grain. If you just can’t live without some rice in your life (I don’t blame you), opt for this instead!

Packed with fiber and essential minerals, it is a nutritious base in salads or as a side dish.

19. Quinoa


Speaking of delicious base grains, next up is quinoa! This versatile, ancient grain is a complete protein source.

It’s gluten-free, slightly nutty, and can be used in various dishes. Dream big! This will add texture and nutritional value, from salads to grain bowls.

20. Oats


When time is running low in the morning, opt for everyone’s favorite overnight solution: oats.

Oats are a breakfast staple known for their high fiber.

What I love most about them is their healthy balance of protein and complex carbohydrates. In other words, they taste great, keep you full, and are good for your system.

21. Almonds


Moving on to the nut world, let’s begin with a fan favorite: almonds. Almonds are nutrient-dense nuts that provide a healthy dose of protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats.

You can’t go wrong with almonds as a snack or topping. They’re crunchy, filling, and don’t carry a ton of calories with them.

22. Cashews


Next in the nut line-up, we have cashews! I’m a huge fan of these thanks to their versatility. They’re a staple in vegan recipes because of their natural protein and fat content.

Enjoy them as a crunchy salad topping, in stir-fries, or just as a light midday snack.

23. Pistachios


With their distinct flavor and vibrant green color, pistachios are tasty and rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. A handful of these nuts makes for a satisfying, low-calorie snack.

I love adding crumbled pistachios to granola or other sweet dishes as a low-calorie dessert option.

24. Apricots


Apricots are deliciously sweet and tangy. They’re rich in vitamins and antioxidants, helping keep your immune system ticking. Plus, they have more protein than other stonefruits.

Enjoy them fresh in apricot season or dried as a light snack. These are the perfect drops of energy to keep you going.

Check out these other great fruits for weight loss!

25. Guavas


Guavas are the tropical dessert of your dreams, packed with vitamin C and dietary fiber. Try guava if you’re craving something sweet but don’t want a full dessert!

You can also enjoy these dried or canned with some Greek yogurt. Remember that the canned variety is usually higher in sugar, which helps preserve the fruit.

26. Kiwi


Vibrant, refreshing, and deliciously juicy. All this and more describes the versatile Kiwifruit. This is a sweet fruit that’s surprisingly low in calories.

Along with the high amounts of vitamin C, this low calorie fruit is a great breakfast or dessert option.

27. Avocado


If you’re living without avocadoes, are you really living? Avocadoes are packed with healthy fats and super creamy, making them naturally good for your heart, brain, and digestion.

They tend to be calorie-dense. However, in moderation – and with the right supplementary choices – an avocado is a great option to keep you full and satisfied.

28. Artichokes


Artichokes are low in calories and high in dietary fiber, making them a great choice for anyone conscious of their incoming calories.

Their unique texture and flavor interest salads, dips, and side dishes. Even as a snack, artichoke chips are a great choice. 

29. Mushrooms


Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or just love your protein, you probably know all about mushrooms. These protein-dense fungi are out of this-world good.

Mushrooms are like flavor sponges. They suck up all the flavor around them, making them deliciously versatile.

30. Spinach


Leafy greens are an essential part of any balanced diet. If you’re aiming for a high-protein diet, spinach is the leafy green for you.

When boiled or blitzed, this green basically disappears. Hide it in smoothies, soups, stews, and more for a nutrient powerhouse that tastes like nothing.

31. Tofu


As we covered earlier, soy is an excellent meat-free protein source. That makes tofu a must-try for a high-protein diet. Versatile, affordable, and easy to prepare, tofu is legendary.

Many delicious Asian dishes put tofu front and center, so make sure to explore the possibilities!

32. Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds

Next up, we’re onto the seeds. I love including seeds because they’re so easy to sprinkle throughout your diet without even thinking about it.

Pumpkin seeds, in particular, are a crunchy and nutritious snack. High in protein and fiber, these will keep you satisfied for ages.

33. Hemp Seeds

hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are a complete source of protein and offer a mild, nutty flavor. These tiny seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Add a handful to your smoothies, yogurt, or salads for an extra protein boost. With that mild flavor, they blend in beautifully.

34. Spirulina


The health world discovered spirulina a few years ago, dubbing it a ‘superfood.’ This is a wonderful ingredient to add to smoothies or even taken as a supplement.

It’s essentially blue-green algae, known for its high protein content. Not only is it a great supplement, but it also turns your food into fun colors!

35. Broccoli


Broccoli may have a bad reputation with the kids, but it’s a nutrient powerhouse. Fried with a bit of salt and garlic, broccoli is a super easy side dish. This will supercharge your diet.

Keep your digestion happy with this cruciferous vegetable. It’s also one of the best vegetables for roasting!

36. Green Peas

Green Peas

These might just be the jewels of the legume world. Green peas are naturally sweet, so they’re enjoyable with almost any lunch or dinner. Plus, they’re packed with protein and fiber.

37. Tempeh


Next up is another soy product: tempeh. Tempeh is generally quite firm, unlike tofu, making it easier to work with. It’s rich in protein and has a nutty flavor that takes on sauces well.

38. Lima Beans

Lima Beans

Lima beans are a little underappreciated, but here’s our chance to fix that. These delicious beans are super versatile, high in protein, and packed with fiber.

Add a handful to soups or salads or as a side to your main dishes. They help you feel full without packing on the calories and taste great.

39. Edamame


Speaking of lesser-known beans, here comes a dark horse. Edamame, or soybeans, is commonly used as a side dish in Japanese cuisine.

Seriously, these make an amazing midday snack. Packed with protein and low in calories, they’re the best with some garlic.

40. Lentils


I can’t express how much I love lentils! Protein- and fiber-rich lentils are diverse legumes you can use in many ways. A lentil always fits curries, soups, bolognese, and even on salad.

Lentils are also known for cooking quickly, which makes them an ideal mid-week meal option. Lentils make a great addition to healthy soup recipes!

41. Black Beans

Black Beans

Last on our list is a classic: the delicious black bean. Black beans are a heavyweight in the legume world, providing a hefty amount of protein to any meal.

Use them as a base when making vegetarian dishes to meet your protein requirements. They’re also an excellent side dish or supplement for soups and salads. Satisfying, versatile, and tasty.

And that’s forty-one! With these high-protein ingredients forming the building blocks of your diet, you’ll be on your way to a healthy calorie deficit in no time.

Check out these great low calorie high protein recipes!

Some of those were a little surprising to me. It just goes to show how deliciously varied a high-protein lifestyle can be!

As always, always pay attention to what your body is telling you. Protein is a vital resource, and getting enough of it in your daily diet (wherever it comes from) is essential.

All the best on your weight loss journey, and enjoy all these delicious high-protein ingredients!