The 25 Best High-Protein, Low-Carb Foods

The 25 Best High-Protein, Low-Carb Foods

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HIGH-PROTEIN, LOW-CARB EATING plans, from the keto diet to the paleo diet to Whole30, were kind of a thing for a while.

And for good reason: High-protein, low-carb diets have been shown to help with weight loss. Except that all of these diets (and many others like them) are incredibly difficult to follow over a long period of time, despite their short-term benefits.

But beyond trendy diets, high-protein low-carb diets have another benefit: lean muscle gain. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating high-protein meals—containing about 30 grams of protein—throughout the day stimulated greater muscle protein synthesis.

“The general recommendation for protein intake is between .8 g- 1.2 g per kilogram of body weight,” says Sandra J. Arevalo, M.P.H., R.D.N., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Of course, you’ll need more protein to maintain muscular and lean mass.”

We at Men’s Health typically recommend, as a baseline, a daily consumption of 1 gram of protein for every pound of your target body weight. So, if you want to weight 195, eat 195 grams of protein every day. (Yes, that’s a lot, but also why some people supplement.)

Of course, if you’re looking to follow a high-protein, low-carb diet, it’s important not to totally cut out carbs. “Going high-protein, low-carb often means people are cutting out variety of foods from their diet and therefore not meeting all their other dietary needs,” says Arevalo. “It’s always important to fill half your plate with veggies.”

Yes, vegetables contain carbohydrates. It’s about finding balance.

Ready to stock your kitchen? Here are 25 high-protein, low-carb foods to help you stick to your diet—trendy or not.

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Cilantro Lime Grilled Salmon Horizontal

Ethan Calabrese

“Although more ‘fatty’ than other meats, salmon is full of the good fats,” says Arevalo.

Per 3-oz serving: 177 calories 17g protein, 0g carbs, 11g fat

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Greek Yogurt

Yogurt in bowl

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“Greek yogurt is packed with protein and is perfect for breakfast, snack time or dessert,” says Arevalo. But watch out for added sugars—stick with plain instead.

Per one 7-oz container (plain, low-fat): 146 calories, 20g protein, 8g carbs (0g fiber), 4g fat

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Raw Organic Almonds

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“Nuts are an excellent source of protein. Compared to peanuts, almonds have more fat, so pay attention to portion size,” says Arevalo.

Per 1.5 oz serving: 254 calories, 9g protein, 8g carbs (5g fiber), 18g fat


Whey Protein Powder

Chocolate whey protein powder with a filled scoop

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“I love whey protein powder. It’s high in protein and low in carbs (depending on sugar content), and great in smoothies where you can add in other veggies and fruit,” says Arevalo. (With so many options on the market, you can pick the one that fits for you.)

Per 1 Tbsp serving: 45 calories, 5g protein, 2g carbs (1g fiber), 2g fat

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Cajun Shrimp

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“Seafood is usually a great pick for high-protein, low-carb diets. I like shrimp because they cook quickly and are low in calories for the amount of protein they pack,” says Arevalo.

Per 100 grams: 99 calories, 24g protein, 0g carb, 0g fat


Chicken Thighs

chicken thighs

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“Although chicken breasts may be lower in fat, chicken thighs have the same amount of protein and lots of flavor,” says Arevalo.

Per 3 oz serving: 393 calories, 14g protein, 0g carbs, 37g fat

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Deli Turkey

Sliced Pastrami

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“Deli turkey is the perfect lunchtime protein option,” says Arevelo. Consume in moderation, though, as it’s often a highly processed.

Per 2-oz serving: 62 calories, 12g protein, 2g carbs (0g fiber), 1g fat

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Beef Jerky

Food, Beef, Snack, Meat, Dish, Cuisine, Flesh, Jerky, Red meat, Machine,

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“It’s low in fat and packed with protein,” says Arevalo. Seriously, who doesn’t love beef jerky?

Per 1-oz serving: 116 calories, 9g protein, 3g carbs (0g fiber), 7g fat

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organic raw soy tofu on a background


“I love vegetarian meat substitutes—they’re great sources of protein,” says Arevalo.

Per 1/2 cup serving: 142 calories, 12g protein, 4g carbs (1g fiber), 8g fat


Canned Tuna

Canned tuna fish in bowl

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“Apart from the protein, tuna is low in fat and is a great source of B vitamins,” says Arevalo.

Per 3 oz serving: 73 calories, 17g protein, 0g carbs, 1g fat

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directly above shot of oysters served in cup with ice

Alex Olson / EyeEm

Yeah, oysters. They’re higher in protein, have negligible calories, and contain a veritable ocean’s worth of vitamins and minerals.

Per 12 medium Eastern wild: 86 calories, 10g protein, 4g carbs (0g fiber, 3g fat



hot grilled whole denver steak on wooden board with herbs fresh juicy medium rare beef grillsteak barbecue meat close up bison


Superlean and powerfully flavorful, bison is the other red meat.

Per 3 oz ground, grass-fed, cooked: 152 calories, 22g protein, 0g carbs, 7g fat

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wooden background with cooked red large lobster top view


Slightly more expensive than chicken breast? Yes. Infinitely more awesome-tasting than chicken breast? Without a doubt.

Per 3 oz, cooked: 83 calories, 17g protein, 1g carbs (0g fiber), 1g fiber


Duck Breast

roasted sliced chinese style duck breast on a dark wooden chopping board with sweet soy dip and chopped chilli sauce, with asian greens and steamed rice buns on the side

David Burden Photography

Oh, faaaaancy. Actually, it’s not that much harder to cook than skin-on chicken breast. Crisp the skin in a hot pan, flip, pop the pan to a 350°F, and cook till done. Simple, really.

Per 3 oz cooked: 172 calories, 21g protein, 0g carbs, 9g fat

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