Lean protein foods are a category of protein that's healthier and ideal for people looking to manage their weight. While protein sometimes contains high calories and fat, lean protein is a healthier and ideal alternative to add to any diet.
Lean protein foods not only provide essential minerals and vitamins but boost metabolism too. That, in turn, helps keeps bodyweight in check and also improves sleep. These foods allow you to load up on protein without adding excess calories to your diet.
Below, we’ve listed some of the best lean protein food options everyone should add to their diet.
Top lean protein foods to add to your diet
Below are a few of the best lean protein food options:
Fish, particularly white fish types, are the best lean protein foods to include in your meals. Examples of lean white fish include haddock, cod, tilapia, flounder, halibut, bass, and more.
White fish contains fewer calories and less fat and helps manage hunger, making it perfect for weight management. Compared to dark-fleshed skin fish like sockeye and salmon, white fish have 10-25% of omega-3 fatty acids, but both fish types are healthy.
#2 Plain Greek yogurt
If you're looking for the least fat and calories, consider adding plain Greek yogurt to your diet. Plain non-fat Greek yogurt is one of the best lean protein foods, as it has less than two grams of fat per 150-gram serving.
A six-ounce Greek yogurt contains approximately 15-20 grams of lean protein, while regular yogurt has only 9 grams. When looking for Greek yogurt, though, always opt for plain ones, as they don’t have unnecessary sweeteners or flavors.
If you're a vegetarian looking for lean protein foods, opt for tofu. It's a viable protein that’s healthy and loaded with lean protein.
It's gluten-free and also has good amounts of essential amino acids. Tofu is available in different forms, ranging from firm to extra firm textures, making it easy for you to choose how you plan to cook it.
Eighty-five grams of tofu cotains 71 calories, 9 grams of protein, and 3.5 grams of fat. If you don’t like tofu, tempeh and edamame are other soy products you can choose from. Both are high in protein and low in calories and fat.
#4 Peas, beans, and lentils
These are great vegetarian lean proteins, full of fiber to keep you full for a long time and manage hunger.
These foods are good for your heart as well. Peas, lentils, and beans are all low in fat, and fiber helps lower blood cholesterol, making them heart-friendly foods.
#5 Skinless turkey or chicken
White meats are great lean protein foods. Turkey, chicken, and other meat products provide high-quality protein and are a good addition to any diet. For a wholesome meal, you can add chicken breasts, wings, and tenders to your diet.
To cut down on calories and fat, though, avoid eating the skin or simply remove it before or after cooking. Other than chicken and turkey, there are various other meat options that are high in lean protein. The leanest meats list includes beef, veal, lamb, duck, bush birds, goose, and more.
If you're specifically looking to avoid calorie and fat intake for weight management reasons, switching to lean protein foods such as the aforementioned ones can be beneficial. Lean plants and animal proteins are comparatively plentiful and a more nutritious and healthier choice.
However, as everyone’s nutritional needs and health conditions are different, it's best to consult a healthcare provider or dietician before making any dietary changes.