63 Foods to Eat on a High-Protein, Low-Carb Diet

February 20th, 2019

Just because you’re eating a high-protein, low-carb diet doesn’t mean meal prep has to feel like a rollercoaster ride filled with highs and lows. One of the best tips for high-protein, low-carb eating is to plan your meals in advance. Keeping a go-to food list handy and a stocked pantry and fridge filled with approved ingredients makes it easy to pull together a snack or a quick dinner without messing up your food goals. Keep reading to learn what to enjoy and what to skip.

What’s a High-Protein, Low-Carb Diet?

On this diet, you restrict carbs (like pasta and bread) and opt for high amounts of protein, healthy fats, and vegetables. Eating this way is believed to help keep blood sugar levels more stable while lowering your levels of insulin, the fat-storing hormone. And when you’re feeling full, it’s more likely you’ll eat less overall, which can lead to weight loss.

On a low-carb, high-protein diet, you’ll want to opt for real food from the following categories.

  • Meats
  • Fish and seafood
  • Natural fats
  • Cheeses
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables

And here’s the list of foods to avoid.

  • Fruit
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Beer
  • Bread
  • Soda/Juice
  • Donuts
  • Candy

Benefits of High-Protein, Low-Carb Diet

Here are a few reasons people enjoy following a high-protein, low-carb diet.

  • Weight loss: Studies have shown weight loss is most significant in the first 3 to 6 months of following this diet, and isn’t always sustained by the 1-year mark.
  • Balanced blood sugar: One study noted that following a low-carbohydrate diet may help balance blood sugar levels, especially for those with type 2 diabetes.

High-Protein Food List

When you’re looking to eat high-protein foods, make sure some of these ingredients fill up your plate.

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Tuna
  • Turkey
  • Pork
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Eggs
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Greek-style yogurt
  • Spinach
  • Black beans
  • Seitan
  • Tofu
  • Peas
  • Pistachios
  • Almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds

Best High-Protein, Low-Carb Snacks

We don’t like to brag, but our staffers are basically snack experts. And snacktime love extends to our members, too. Here’s a roundup of some of our most popular high-protein snacks that you’ll love to include in your weekly rotation.

Wild Planet Sardines In Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

No carbs here! Just 13 grams of protein per serving. These meaty fish make a great lunch or a post-workout snack to keep you fueled with healthy fats.

Louisville Vegan Jerky

It might taste like maple bacon, but this jerky is completely plant-based, with 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of carbs per serving to boot.

Cello Whisps Parmesan Cheese Crisps

Made with just one ingredient (pasteurized parmesan!), these cheesy bites have only 1 gram of carbs per serving and provide 13 grams of protein. Enjoy a few on their own, or crumble them on top of soup or salad.

Thrive Market Organic Whey Protein, Vanilla

Sometimes nothing beats a quick smoothie to give you an afternoon pick-me-up. Blend one with a scoop of this whey protein, serving up only 3 grams of carbs and a whopping 20 grams of protein.

Low-Carb Food List

When you stick with a rainbow of veggies, plus a few fruits and crunchy nuts, you won’t feel deprived while eating low-carb.

Low-Carb Vegetables

The rule of thumb is any vegetable that grows above ground is low-carb and can be eaten in any amount. But veggies growing below ground (like potatoes) have more carbs, so you’ll need to monitor these ingredients more closely.

Kale Caesar Salad

  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Green beans
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Eggplant

Top 10 Low-Carb Fruits

On a strict low-carb diet, you can enjoy strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries in small amounts. Moderate dieters can enjoy them more frequently.


  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Plums
  • Clementines
  • Kiwis
  • Cherries
  • Cantelope
  • Peaches

Best Nuts for a Low-Carb Diet


  • Pecans
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts

13 High-Protein Low-Carb Recipes

These recipes might be low-carb, but they’re definitely high in flavor (with added protein, to boot!).

Turkey-Sage Meatballs With Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti and meatballs? This recipe has a twist. Spaghetti squash stands in for the noodles, and the bowl is topped with tender turkey meatballs flavored with onion, sage, dried cranberries, and pine nuts.

White Bean and Herb Zucchini Noodles

Here’s another way to get your pasta fix sans gluten. Load up a plate of “zoodles” with cannellini beans, parsley, mint, and onions. Tossed with olive oil, the combination makes a satisfying light supper.

White Bean and Herb Zucchini Noodles

Kale-Hemp Pesto

This pesto has some superfood ingredients like kale and hemp seeds to deliver a boost of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Spoon it over grilled chicken or steak, or toss it with spaghetti squash instead of plain noodles.

Lemon-Ginger Chicken Zucchini Noodle Soup

Can you tell we’re on a spaghetti squash kick? Here’s another inventive way to use it—in soup form! The broth is simmered with ginger, lemon, chicken, and loads of veggies for a comforting bowl.

Coconut Creamed Spinach With Eggs

Start your day with protein! Spinach creamed in silky coconut milk adds rich flavor and healthy fats to your morning, and a runny egg over the top is the perfect finishing touch.

Primavera Quiche

Instead of regular flour, sub in almond flour for a low-carb version of classic quiche. We fill ours with lots of green veggies like zucchini, asparagus, and peas.

Zucchini and Mozzarella Salad

This refreshing salad will hit the spot on a warm day. Raw zucchini is marinated with lime and EVOO for added flavor, while mozzarella adds a protein boost.

Zucchini and Mozzarella Salad With Herbs

Chickpea Flatbread With Zucchini Salad

Traditional French flatbread called socca is made with chickpea flour (which is lower in carbs than white flour). Top it with zucchini, watermelon radish, and feta for a springtime-inspired meal.

Harissa-Roasted Chicken

If roast chicken is your kind of comfort food, give it a kick with garlicky hot chile paste. The side of cool yogurt-mint sauce will balance the heat.

Harissa roast chicken

Olive Oil–Poached Sea Bass

Poached in olive oil, this tender and flaky fish is the perfect low-carb dinner. Serve it alongside your favorite veggies at your next dinner party.

Lemon-Yogurt Chicken Kebabs

Try our tangy take on chicken kebabs, in which the meat gets rubbed in a lemon-turmeric yogurt sauce before going on the grill. Add fresh coleslaw on the side and you’re set for dinner.

Sweet and Sour Sea Bass

Reach for Thai-inspired flavors like lime juice and fish sauce to shake up your next fish fry.

Roasted Salmon and Cauliflower Rice Bowl

Cauliflower rice makes the base for roasted salmon that’s flavored with a medley of spices like allspice and cinnamon.

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Nicole GulottaNicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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