Protein-packed foods come with a variety of benefits, one of them being satiety. After enjoying a high-protein meal, you’ll feel fuller for longer, which helps decrease the urge to reach for unhealthy snacks. That’s why protein is one of the best tools to be equipped with during your weight loss journey. But with the wide range of high-protein foods out there to choose from, which is the absolute best protein for weight loss?
Eat This, Not That! spoke with Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and certified specialist in sports dietetics who sits on our Medical Expert Board to get the scoop. Goodson shares the #1 protein that’s an excellent addition to any healthy diet and weight loss regimen. But first, let’s chat a little bit more about the importance of protein.
“Protein is more filling than carbohydrates and fats, so it can help reduce overall calorie intake by making you feel full and satisfied. This can lead to reduced snacking and overeating,” Goodson explains. “[In addition,] the thermic effect of food (TEF) is higher for protein compared to carbohydrates and fats. This means your body expends more energy digesting and metabolizing protein, which can increase your overall daily calorie expenditure.”
It’s also worth noting that a high-protein diet can support your fat loss goals while helping you maintain lean muscle. “Protein helps the body preferentially use fat for energy, which can contribute to a greater loss of body fat,” Goodson adds.
Now, without delay, let’s get into the best protein for weight loss. Keep reading to learn more, and when you’re finished, be sure to check out Can Eating Oatmeal Help You Lose Weight?
What is the best protein for weight loss?
Goodson explains that all high-quality proteins like fish, beef, pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy can support your weight loss goals because they help keep you full. However, “eggs are a top protein source for weight loss for several reasons,” Goodson says.
1. Eggs are a high-quality protein.
Eggs are considered a “complete protein source,” Goodson explains. This means they offer every essential amino acid your body requires. “This high-quality protein is important for maintaining and repairing muscle tissue, which can be especially valuable during weight loss when you’re trying to preserve lean muscle mass,” Goodson adds.
2. They’re low in calories.
There are about 72 calories in one large egg. This relatively low calorie count makes eggs a weight loss staple and “a calorie-efficient choice for those looking to control their calorie intake while still getting essential nutrients,” Goodson says.
3. They’re filled with nutrients.
Not only are eggs a stellar protein source, but they also offer a ton of crucial nutrients, such as antioxidants (including zeaxanthin and lutein), vitamins (including vitamin D and B vitamins), and minerals (including selenium and phosphorus). “These nutrients are essential for overall health and can complement a weight loss diet,” explains Goodson.
4. They help control blood sugar.
“Eggs have a low glycemic index, which means they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels,” says Goodson. This can aid in preventing spikes and crashes in your blood sugar levels, along with reducing unhealthy cravings.
5. They’re versatile.
Eggs are an incredibly versatile food that can be prepared in a multitude of tasty ways. This means eggs are a seamless addition to your weekly meal rotation. You can enjoy them scrambled with fresh veggies for breakfast or poached on top of avocado toast for lunch. You can also prepare some hard-boiled eggs to have for a healthy snack. Or, consider adding a sunny-side-up egg to your veggie burger! The possibilities are endless.
6. They’re affordable.
We love a high-quality, affordable protein! “Eggs are an extremely affordable source of protein,” Goodson says. “This makes it more accessible for most families and an excellent way to get protein in the family meal pattern.”
How much protein should you eat each week for weight loss?
When it comes down to how much protein you should consume each week to promote weight loss, it comes down to the individual. “Protein needs are individualized to the person, based on weight and type/amount of exercise,” Goodson points out. “There is no recommendation for all individuals. A good rule of thumb is to include 25 to 30 grams of high-quality protein at all three meals and then include 10 to 20 grams at snacks. The Accepted Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) recognizes that you can healthily consume 10% to 35% of total calories coming from protein depending on your lifestyle and activity.”