The 25 Best Foods for High-Protein, Low-Carb Diets

high protein low carb food men's health

The 25 Best High-Protein, Low-Carb FoodsMuhammad Wahizul Haswan Abdul Aziz / EyeEm

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.


“They’re quick to cook and inexpensive,” says Arevalo. Plus, they’re super versatile: have them hard boiled, deviled, or in an omelet.

Per one whole, large egg: 72 calories, 7g protein, 0g carbs, 5g fat

White eggs on a concrete table

KariHoglund – Getty Images


“Besides the nice amount of protein, milk is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D,” says Arevalo. (If you’re on the restrictive keto diet, just be sure you don’t overdo it.)

Per 1-cup serving (low-fat): 101 calories, 8g protein, 12g carbs (og fiber), 3g fat

High speed image of splashing milk

Franklin Kappa – Getty Images

String Cheese

“Cheese sticks are perfect for on-the-go breakfast and snacks. Plus they’re low fat,” says Arevalo.

Per cheese stick: 50 calories, 6g protein, 1g carbs (0g fiber), 3g fat

Healthy Organic String Cheese

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“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

Cilantro Lime Grilled Salmon Horizontal

Ethan Calabrese

Greek Yogurt

“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

Yogurt in bowl

tashka2000 – Getty Images


“Dry roasted peanuts offer a good amount of protein, plus a great amount of fiber,” says Arevalo.

Per 1.5 oz. serving: 250 calories, 10g protein, 9g carbs (4g fiber), 10g fat

Peanuts in shells on wood background

Gizelka – Getty Images


“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

Raw Organic Almonds

LindasPhotography – Getty Images

Whey Protein Powder

“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

Chocolate whey protein powder with a filled scoop

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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

Cajun Shrimp

Fudio – Getty Images

Chicken Thighs

“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

chicken thighs

YelenaYemchuk – Getty Images


“Boiled or roasted, they’re the perfect snack packed with plant protein,” says Arevalo.

Per 1-cup serving: 188 calories, 18g protein, 14g carbs (8g fiber), 8g fat

bowl of edamame beans on bamboo mat

Tanya_F – Getty Images

Deli Turkey

“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

Sliced Pastrami

fcafotodigital – Getty Images

Peanut Butter

“Be careful to stick with portions,” says Arevalo.

Per 2-Tbsp serving: 187 calories, 10g protein, 13g carbs (2g fiber), 12g fat

Jar of peanut butter with nuts.

sergoua – Getty Images

Beef Jerky

“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

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

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“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

organic raw soy tofu on a background


Canned Tuna

“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

Canned tuna fish in bowl

Amarita – Getty Images


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

directly above shot of oysters served in cup with ice

Alex Olson / EyeEm


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

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



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

wooden background with cooked red large lobster top view


Duck Breast

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

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


It’s maybe of fermented soy beans, which are high in protein by nature. Sear it and add to soups, stews, and chilis.

Per 3 oz cooked: 165 calories, 15g protein, 9g carbs, 9g fat

close up of tempeh on cutting board with kitchen knife with other ingredients on table preparing a vegan dish in kitchen



It’s squid (surprise!), but it’s inexpensive, easy to cook (grill it, don’t fry it), and supremely delicious.

Per 3 oz raw: 78 calories, 13g protein, 3g carbs (0g fiber), 1g fat

grilled squid with garlic, parsley and white wine


Pork Chops

Despite what that marketing campaign stated, pork is actually a red meat. That means lots of flavor for plenty of protein and not a carb.

Per chop: 190 calories, 33g protein, 0g carbs, 7g fat

juicy grilled pork chop with spices on a white plate



Diets like Keto and Paleo are popular for a reason. And that reason is that you can eat bacon. But you can also just eat bacon and not be on a diet.

Per slice: 54 calories, 4g protein, 0g carbs, 4g fat

high protein low fat foods bacon mens health

Diana Miller


Don’t scoff. These meaty little fish are loaded with protein and packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And they’re awesome on a sturdy cracker doused with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

Per one tin: 191 calories, 23g protein, 0g carbs, 11g fat

high protein low fat foods


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