To help you reach your fitness and weight-loss goals, WE RANK these 10 best high-protein foods for metabolism. To get your stomach super tight, don’t miss these foods that melt love handles!
10. Wheatgrass powder
2 gms per 1½ tbsp
What doesn’t wheatgrass offer for a mere 30 calories? Even a tiny dose of this packs fibre, protein, tons of vitamins A and K, folic acid, manganese, iodine, and chlorophyll, to name a few. You don’t need to know what each nutrient does for you; just know that a single tablespoon will have you operating at peak performance levels. So even if the protein count is low, you’ll last longer at the gym.
2 gms per fruit
Grapefruit stands alone as a particularly powerful weight-loss food. One study found that people who ate half a fresh grapefruit a day lost 3½ pounds in 12 weeks, despite making no changes in diet or exercise. Try pairing it with green tea, as part of the 17-Day Green Tea Diet. Its metabolism-boosting compounds, called catechins, increase metabolism and speed the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy.
8. Flax meal
2 gms per 2 tbsp
You may think of flax for its fibre content and rich omega-3 fatty acid profile, but flax is actually a potent protein source, as well. Two tablespoons of the high-protein food gives you 2 gms of muscle-building protein, as well as 4 gms of metabolism-enhancing fibre. Blend some into these essential protein shake recipes.
7. Unsweetened cocoa powder
2 gms per 2 tbsp
Mix some cocoa powder into your smoothie for a boost of more than just flavour. In addition to delivering a gram of protein for every 12 calories, it will also give you 4 gms of fat-burning fibre and 20% of your daily value for the essential muscle-making mineral manganese.
6. Butternut Squash
2.5 gms per ½ cup
The seeds alone deliver 8 g of protein per ¼ cup once you’ve roasted and salted them, but the squash meat itself will supply another few grams. Spice it up with cinnamon and serve it as an alternative to sweet potatoes.
2.5 g gms per falafel
Falafel is one of the best high-protein foods; these little balls of chickpeas and herbs deliver a gram of protein for every 25 calories.
4. Passion fruit
2.5 gms per ½ cup
Like pomegranate, passion fruit delivers a surprising dose of protein thanks to its edible seeds; ½ a cup also gives you 12 g of fibre and more than half a day’s vitamin C. They’ll boost your metabolism.
3. Sweet peas
3 gms per ½ cup
Like all legumes, peas are a great source of protein. But you can get an additional boost from sweet peas, the kind that comes in its own edible pods (also known as mange tout). Eat them raw or steam them and top with a dab of butter and some sea salt, or use them in these soup recipes. You’ll get a gram of protein for every 15 calories you consume.
2. Broccoli rabe
3.3 gms per 85 g serving
This bitter cousin to your bland, boring broccoli has one of the highest protein-per-calorie ratios in the plant world: 1 gram of protein for every 8.7 calories. A serving will give you 3.3 gms for just 28 calories – that’s more protein than a spoonful of peanut butter.
4 gms per fruit
High in healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados – one of the essential superfoods – also deliver a surprising dose of protein.
4 g per 1 cup, cooked (portobello)
You may know about the protein-packing power of portobello mushrooms because they show up in place of burgers at some restaurants. But most mushrooms deliver about 4 g of protein per serving, for fewer than 40 calories. They’re also a great source of selenium, a mineral that’s essential for proper muscle function.
5 g per ½ cup, cooked
This ancient grain saddles you with fewer than 5 g of carbs for every gram of protein, about what you’ll get from its more highly publicised cousin, quinoa. Spelt and amaranth deliver similar benefits.
5 g per fruit
You may not think of fruit when you think of protein, but pomegranates stand out as protein powerhouses. The reason: The protein is stored in the seeds of the fruit. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that POM Wonderful will give you the same benefits – it’s full of sugars.
17 Japanese soba noodles
5.8 g per cup, cooked
For a mere 113 calories per cup, soba noodles slip you a nice bit of protein for a relatively low 24 g of carbs.
6 g per 1 cup serving
In addition to its 4 g of belly-filling fibre, a cup of oatmeal delivers as much protein as an egg.
6 g per 1 large egg
Two thirds of the egg’s protein is in the white, but don’t skip the yolk; egg yolks are the single best dietary source of the B vitamin choline, an essential nutrient used in the construction of all the body’s cell membranes. Choline deficiency is linked directly to the genes that cause visceral fat accumulation, particularly in the liver. Eggs are a key part of Zero Belly Diet and the Zero Belly Cookbook where test panellists lost up to 16 pounds in 14 days!
6 g per ½ cup serving
Perhaps the very best thing you can dip a chip into, humous delivers a gram of protein for 36 calories. Made from chickpeas and olive oil, it’s as healthy as a food can get.
13 Green beans
6 g per ½ cup, cooked
Green beans will keep you lean with a solid gram of vegetable protein for every 18 calories you consume.
6.5 g per ¼ cup
All nuts are high in protein, but pistachios may have additional metabolic powers, making them one of the best ever high-protein snacks. A study in journal Nutrients looked at 60 middle-aged men who were at risk for diabetes and heart disease. They gave the two groups similar diets, except that one of these groups got 20% of their daily calories from pistachios. The group that ate the pistachios had smaller waists at the end of the study period; their cholesterol score dropped by an average of 15 points, and their blood sugar numbers improved.
8 g per tbsp
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that’s typically dried and sold in powdered form, although you can also buy spirulina flakes and tablets. Dried spirulina is about 60% protein and, like quinoa, it’s a complete protein, meaning it can be converted directly into muscle in the body. A tablespoon delivers 8 g of metabolism-boosting protein for just 43 calories, plus half a day’s allotment of vitamin B12. It’s a great option if a blended vegan protein isn’t available.
9 g per ¼ cup
The king nut for protein is the humble peanut, when you want to lose belly fat. In fact, it tops pecans (2.5 g), cashews (5 g) and even almonds (8 g) in the protein power rankings. Peanuts are also terrific sources of the mood-boosting vitamin folate.
10 g per ¾ cup
Think of beans as little weight-loss pills and enjoy them whenever you like. A study presented at the Experimental Biology conference found that people who ate ¾ cup of beans daily weighed 6.6 pounds fewer than those who didn’t, even though the bean-eater consumed, on average, 199 more calories per day. Part of the reason is that fibre – from beans and whole grains – helps our bodies (OK, actually the bacteria in our bodies) produce a substance called butyrate, which deactivates the genes that cause insulin insensitivity.
8 Black rice
10 g per ¼ cup, uncooked
Once known as ‘forbidden rice’ because only emperors were allowed to eat it, black rice is one of the hottest new food trends, and for good reason; it’s higher in protein and fibre than its cousin, brown rice.
7 Rye berries
12.5 g per ½ cup
Rye is the grain they make pumpernickel from, but it’s also an oft-neglected superfood. Try substituting it for rice (though you’ll need to cook it longer) for a super-potent vegetarian protein side dish, and sprinkle with chia seeds for an extra boost.
6 Chickpea pasta
14 g per serving
Traditional wheat pasta is a pretty solid protein player, with 7 g per serving. But upgrade to Banza pasta, made with chickpeas, and you’ll double that number, whilst also enjoying 8 g of fibre and only about half the carbs of your average pasta dinner.
16 g per ½ cup
More macho than its softer cousin, tofu (which apparently can lead to man boobs), tempeh is made from soy beans, rather than soy milk. As a result, it’s closer to a whole food and keeps more of its protein – about 50% more than tofu.
4 Vegan protein powder
15–20 g per scoop
More and more research is showing that when we add plant proteins to our diets, our bodies respond by shedding fat. In a Journal of Geriatric Cardiology study, researchers discovered that patients who ingested higher amounts of vegetable protein were far less susceptible to being overweight and having a high risk of diabetes and high cholesterol. That means eating whole foods from vegetables – and supplementing with vegan protein powder – is one of the best ways to keep extra weight at bay. A second study in Nutrition Journal found that plant protein intakes may help prevent obesity. Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake, Vega Sport Performance Protein, and Sunwarrior Warrior Blend are three we love – find 150+ delicious recipes in Zero Belly Cookbook.
22 g per 3 oz fillet
Often overlooked in favour of its two closest nutritional competitors, tuna and salmon, halibut is a delicious, firm-meat white fish with a very low level of contaminates. It delivers a gram of protein for every 4.5 calories. Snapper, perch and cod are also high-protein fish.
2 Turkey breast
26 g per 3 oz serving
Mightier than its cousin the chicken breast (which delivers a mere 16 g for the same serving size), turkey is the protein potentate of poultry.
1 Slow-roasted pork loin
28 g per 3 oz serving
Pork and beef run about neck-and-neck when it comes to protein. But what we love about pork loin is that it cooks so nicely in a slow cooker, barbecued on a low heat, or roasted in the oven – methods you should use more often. When you cook meat at high temperatures, and that includes beef, pork, fish or poultry, chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are produced. According to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, increased intake of HCAs causes changes to our gut microbiota that increase our risk of colorectal cancer. Consider slow cookers or long, languid barbecues the healthier alternative to pan-frying or grilling.