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.
- Fish and seafood
- Natural fats
And here’s the list of foods to avoid.
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.
- Nuts and seeds
- Mozzarella cheese
- Greek-style yogurt
- Black beans
- 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.
With 7 grams of protein and only 1 gram of carbohydrates per serving, this is a meat-lovers dream.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Green beans
- Brussels sprouts
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.
Best Nuts for a Low-Carb Diet
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
13 High-Protein Low-Carb Recipes
These recipes might be low-carb, but they’re definitely high in flavor (with added protein, to boot!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reach for Thai-inspired flavors like lime juice and fish sauce to shake up your next fish fry.
Cauliflower rice makes the base for roasted salmon that’s flavored with a medley of spices like allspice and cinnamon.