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protein packed foods for weight loss

The Best Protein-Packed Foods for Weight Loss

If you’re looking to bump up your protein intake in an effort to lose weight, you don’t need to go out and buy a bunch of protein bars or powders. Including a real food source of protein in every meal is a surefire way to help with weight loss – the key is choosing the right types of protein that will keep you feeling full and satisfied.

Weight loss is all about making small changes that you can sustain as a lifestyle, not as a short-term diet. And to avoid spending all day in the kitchen, you’ll need go-to protein options that are quick and easy.

Here are my favorite quick and healthy protein-packed foods for long-term weight loss success!

The Best Protein-Packed Foods for Weight Loss, almonds


Walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans… choose one, choose them all! Nuts have protein, fat, and fiber, the perfect trifecta to keep you full and satisfied. Plus, research has shown that people who replaced red meat in their diet with nuts gained less weight over a several year period.

Add nuts to any meal for a satisfying crunch. Stir chopped nuts into oatmeal, top a salad with slivered almonds, or finish a stir-fry with a small handful of cashews.


A lean protein with an Omega-3 boost, shrimp is a top protein choice. It’s just as versatile as the standard go-to chicken breast, but cooks much quicker. Shrimp is great with a squeeze of lemon or tossed with tomato sauce and feta. The best part? Shrimp can go from freezer to plate in about 15 minutes.

Defrost quickly under running water, sauté for 1-2 minutes, and dinner is ready!

The Best Protein-Packed Foods for Weight Loss, red lentiils

Red Lentils

Look no further than these small, sweet legumes if you prefer your protein to be the supporting role rather than the lead in your meal.

Red lentils are mild tasting, high in protein and fiber, and blend well into dishes like soups, curries, and grain bowls.

Wild salmon

Doesn’t just thinking about a fish dinner make you feel healthy? There’s a reason for that. Salmon tastes amazing when cooked without being drenched in oil or breading, and pairs fantastically with simple veggie sides.

Canned salmon is a great alternative to fresh or frozen, and makes a great last minute salad topper.

Summer Snow Peas Smoothie Recipe by Green Blender

Green peas

I know you have at least one bag of peas in your freezer right now! People often think of peas as a veggie due to their green hue, but they are actually legumes like beans and lentils. So it shouldn’t surprise you that a handful of peas has about five grams of protein.

Add them to salads, stir fries, or as a side topped with slivered almonds for a double dose of plant-based power.

Kacie Barnes is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who provides virtual and in-person nutrition coaching and expert advice at Barnes Nutrition and Wellness. She also blogs at Kacie has a Master of Clinical Nutrition degree from UT Southwestern. She lives in Dallas, TX with her husband and two children. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.