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The Best High-Protein Foods For Weight Loss

The Best High-Protein Foods For Weight Loss

No matter what kinds of health and fitness goals you’re working towards, you’ve probably heard the same macronutrient being recommended again and again. Protein! 

Protein is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle of our dietary puzzle. Not only does it help our muscles rebuild after a big workout to make gains, but it also keeps our blood sugar balanced and can even influence our appetite. Altogether, the benefits of getting enough protein can help you get the most out of every workout. 

Here’s why you should definitely be getting enough protein while trying to lose weight, plus some of the best high-protein foods to add to your diet so you can get to your goals. 

Why you need protein for weight loss 

The basic principle of weight loss is energy balance. If you want to lose weight, you should be at a moderate calorie deficit. In other words, you should be eating fewer calories than your body uses in a day for energy. 

When you’re in a calorie deficit, your body still needs to get its energy from somewhere, even if you aren’t eating enough to compensate. So in the absence of food, your body instead turns towards the energy that you have stored in the past, and much of this is converted into fat tissue. In other words, when you’re in a calorie deficit, your body needs to “burn” through your fat stores for power! 

Unfortunately, fat isn’t the only place that your body stores excess energy. If you aren’t also paying attention to the quality of your diet, you can end up losing muscle mass as well. 

This is where protein really comes into play. While both carbohydrate and fat are useful in their own ways for energizing your body, protein is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to fitness. 

  • Protein helps you build and maintain muscle. Protein is sometimes referred to as the body’s “building blocks” because it helps build tissues throughout your body including muscle. Studies have shown that eating a diet with more protein helped people preserve their lean body mass better than other people who ate a similar calorie deficit but less protein. 
  • It keeps you full. Protein is more satiating than other nutrients like carbohydrates and fat. In other words, eating plenty of protein will keep you full for longer and can help keep you satisfied from meal to meal. This effect can ultimately help reduce any between-meal snacking or cravings that can get in the way of your calorie deficit. 

  • According to the National Association of Sports Medicine, you should aim to eat between 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight, or more if you’re an athlete. In other words, if you weigh 170 pounds (or about 77 kgs) you should eat roughly 123–169 grams of protein per day. 

    The best high-protein foods for weight loss


    Poultry is an excellent source of a complete protein. What this means: proteins are made up of several smaller components called amino acids. Complete protein sources have all of the essential amino acids that are needed to make a protein molecule, including some of the amino acids that are necessary for triggering muscle growth. 

    Another perk of eating poultry is that it is relatively lean, especially when compared to other meats like beef or pork. Because it has less fat than these other protein sources, you can cut down on your calorie and fat intake at the same time that you’re working on building up those muscles to help with both sides of your body composition goals. 


    Fish is another solid choice for complete lean protein. Fish is also packed with essential nutrients that you might not be getting from other foods in your diet. For example, even if you choose a fattier fish like salmon or mackerel, you’ll be filling up on a kind of healthy fat called omega-3s that have anti-inflammatory properties to help your immune system heal up. 

    Protein supplements 

    People looking to maximize their muscle while minimizing body fat often opt for protein supplements that has a high concentration of protein with low fat and carbohydrates. You shouldn’t rely on protein supplements on their own for your daily intake since they tend to have fewer other important nutrients found in whole foods. However, they’re a convenient option to meet your needs if you aren’t getting enough from your diet alone. 

    Nuts and seeds 

    Animal-based foods aren’t the only way to get protein! Nuts, seeds, and legumes are also full of healthy protein. The key with plant-based proteins is to make sure you’re getting it from plenty of different sources. Most plant-based foods are incomplete, which means that they are lacking in one or more essential amino acids your body needs to maintain its muscle. As a result, you should incorporate a wide variety of plant-based protein sources into your diet for the best results. On the plus side, nuts, seeds, and legumes are also packed with healthy nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

    Other important considerations for weight loss

    Calories and protein are crucial pieces of the weight-loss puzzle. However, there are also some other key considerations to keep in mind to give your body the best environment to reach your goals. 

  • Muscle recovery: All of that hard work you put in the gym can really stress your muscles out. Make sure that you’re factoring in a couple of days of active resting a week to let your muscles fully recover from all of the work that they’re putting in. 
  • Hydration: Adequate hydration is essential for everyone, but especially for those who are working out hard. If you’re doing cardio like running or cycling in an effort to lose weight, you may have fallen victim to muscle cramping that stems from electrolyte imbalances and dehydration. While temporary, these cramps can be painful and annoying, and can even inhibit your ability to give your workout your all. 

  • Hydrating, electrolyte-infused drinks like Nirvana Super Seltzers, Shots, and Waters can help you unlock peak performance with science-backed nutrients including electrolytes and HMB. These additional tools can help keep your body primed throughout your toughest workouts.


    Weight loss is a commitment. Not only do you need to put in work at the gym, but you also need plenty of protein to support your muscles during the process for a better body composition. Add these high-protein foods to your diet to give your body all of the tools it needs to thrive during every part of your fitness journey. 

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