A High-Protein Diet Can Help You Lose Weight – Science-Backed

Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Charushila Biswas MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Experience: 6 years

Not just protein, you need a high-protein diet to lose weight. Studies have confirmed that 0.8 g protein per kg body weight just maintains normal body functions (1). To shed pounds and tone up, you need an extra dose of protein. So, how does a high-protein diet aid weight loss? What foods to eat? Are there any side effects? Scroll down to find out.

In This Post, You Will Know…

How Does A High-Protein Diet Aid Weight Loss?

High-protein diets like Paleo, Dukan, South Beach, and Atkins aid weight loss by acting as a catalyst to switch the body to the fat burning mode. It happens in the following ways:

  • Boosts Metabolism

A slow, sluggish metabolism can prevent your body from burning fat and using it as energy. This ultimately leads to obesity and metabolic disorder. A diet rich in protein helps kick-start your metabolism.

Several studies have confirmed that people who load up on protein burn more calories and lose more weight as compared to those on a low-protein diet (2), (3), (4).

  • Increases Satiety

If you feel hungry all the time, it is because you do not include the right amount of protein in your diet. Protein is a macronutrient, just like carbs and fats. It is present in our muscles, hormones, enzymes, bone, hair, and cells. Increasing the amount of protein in your diet increases satiety, and you will feel full for a long duration.

Scientists have found that a high-protein diet increases the secretion of PPY and GLP-1, the appetite suppressing hormones, and reduces the secretion of ghrelin, the hunger hormone (5), (6).

A high-protein diet also decreases caloric intake (as you will be too full to consume more calories) and increases the thermic effect of food (7), (8).

  • Builds Lean Muscle

Muscles are made of protein. Hence, anyone interested in building muscle or becoming toned loads up on protein. Muscles are also where you find the most number of mitochondria. Mitochondria are cell organelles where metabolism (conversion of glucose or sugar to a usable form of energy) takes place. More the number of mitochondria, more the chances of burning fat.

As you age, muscle loss sets in. With muscle loss, you also lose mitochondria – resulting in slow metabolism. Research studies have confirmed that a high-protein diet prevents muscle loss, increases muscle tone, and prevents weight regain (9), (10).

So, a high-protein diet can clearly be a good way to start shedding the extra flab. But how much protein should you consume per day? Find out in the following section.

Back To TOC

How Much Protein Do You Need To Lose Weight?

Scientific research findings suggest that you need to consume more than the Required Daily Intake (RDI) of 0.8 g protein per kg body weight to lose weight (1). Your protein intake is also directly proportional to your physical activity. The more you workout, the more protein you need to prevent muscle loss and build lean muscle mass (1).

Talk to your dietitian to get your customized daily protein intake amount. Your height, current weight, weight loss goal, activity level, genetics, and medical conditions must be taken into account before deciding how much extra protein you should consume per day to lose weight.

Once you know how many grams of protein you may consume per day, make a list of high-protein foods that will help you achieve that goal. Here are the best high-protein foods you can include in your grocery list. Take a look.

10 Best High-Protein Foods”>Best High-Protein Foods

1. Beans And Legumes

Beans and legumes are excellent sources of protein. Foods such as kidney beans, black-eyed peas, green peas, lima beans, lentils, black beans, and edamame can provide your body with the required amount of protein, iron, dietary fiber, soybeans, and calcium. Here’s how much protein you can get from a cup of these beans and legumes:

  • Soybeans – 28.6 g
  • Lentils – 17.9 g
  • Winged beans – 18.3 g
  • Mung beans – 14.2 g
  • Split peas – 16.3 g
  • White beans – 17.4 g
  • Fava beans – 12.9 g
  • Kidney beans – 15.3 g
  • Black beans – 15.2 g
  • Lima beans – 14.7 g
  • Black-eyed peas – 13.2 g
  • Pinto beans – 15.4 g
  • Chickpeas – 14.5 g
  • Edamame – 17 g

How To Consume Beans And Legumes

You can boil them and add to a salad or make soup for dinner with lots of other veggies. You can also add lentils to your favorite vegetable broth and have it with multigrain flatbread. You can consume 2-3 servings of beans and legumes per day.

2. Nuts And Seeds

Nuts and seeds like almonds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, peanuts, etc. are rich sources of protein, magnesium, selenium, copper, zinc, healthy fats, and dietary fiber. They help reduce inflammation, suppress appetite, and provide energy. Here’s how much protein you can get from one ounce of these nuts and seeds:

  • Walnut – 4.3 g
  • Almonds – 6 g
  • Peanuts – 7 g
  • Flax seeds – 5 g
  • Pumpkin seeds – 5 g
  • Chia seeds – 4.7 g
  • Macadamia nuts – 2.2 g
  • Pine nuts – 3.9 g
  • Pistachios – 6 g

How To Consume Nuts And Seeds

Soak the nuts in water overnight. Have them in the morning with breakfast. You can also have pistachios as a snack in the afternoon or evening. Add chia seeds or ground flax seeds to your smoothie. Roast pumpkin seeds and add them to soups and casseroles.

3. Tofu And Tempeh

Tofu And Tempeh
Image: Shutterstock

Tofu is an ideal alternative to meat. You can obtain 11 g of protein from 150 g of tofu, in addition to magnesium and iron. Tempeh, a chewier version of tofu, contains 15 g of protein in half a cup of serving.

How To Consume Tofu And Tempeh

You can grill or sauté tofu or tempeh and add it to your salad or sandwich for lunch. You can also make tofu kebabs or grate it and mix it with spinach, tomato, and avocado to make tofu or tempeh tacos.

4. Mushrooms

A hundred grams of mushrooms contains 3 g of protein. They can be an easy substitute for chicken or turkey. Be careful not to consume mushrooms that are poisonous. You should also avoid consuming mushrooms if you are allergic to them.

How To Consume Mushrooms

You can have a mushroom omelet for breakfast, a mushroom sandwich for lunch, or mushroom soup for dinner. Grilled mushrooms with veggies is also a perfect option for dinner.

5. Hummus

Image: Shutterstock

Hummus is a dip made of mashed chickpeas mixed with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and beans. One tablespoon of hummus contains 1.2 g of protein. It is also a great source of manganese, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamins K and E, folate, and thiamin, 20 essential amino acids, and omega-3-fatty acids.

How To Consume Hummus

Have hummus with grilled veggies or with celery, baby carrots, or cucumbers as a snack.

6. Spirulina

Spirulina is a biomass of blue-green algae, which is highly nutritious and a very good source of protein. One tablespoon of spirulina contains 4 g of protein. It is available in tablet or powdered form and is one of the best natural supplements for weight loss.

How To Consume Spirulina

Add spirulina powder to your morning juice or smoothie, lunch salad, or grilled veggies and lentil soup for dinner. You can also have one tablet of spirulina per day. Consult your doctor before consuming spirulina. Avoid it if you are allergic to seafood.

7. Eggs

Image: Shutterstock

Plain egg whites or even whole eggs help you gain muscle mass and improve your strength. A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study concludes that consuming 3 eggs daily helps increase your muscle mass. (11).

How To Consume Eggs

You may have them boiled, scrambled, soft boiled, or as omelet or frittata.

8. Fish

Fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, carp, haddock, and basa are rich in protein. They are also great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help cure inflammation, boost immunity, and also may prevent the onset of certain types of cancer (12), (13). They are essential for many body functions and help you gain muscle due to the presence of essential amino acids (14). You can consume nuts like camu camu as these contain all the eight amino acids.

How To Consume Fish

Consume grilled, poached, and curried fish. If you like fried fish, shallow fry it in olive oil.

9. Soy Milk

Soy Milk
Image: Shutterstock

Soy milk is the perfect option for those opting for non-dairy milk. The ingredient is rich in protein – at about 7 g per serving. Since vegetarians are advised to have 2-3 servings of protein a day, soy milk and other soy products will easily fulfill your daily requirements. Soy milk also provides potassium.

How To Consume Soy Milk

You can have soy milk for breakfast, add breakfast cereal to it, or prepare oatmeal or smoothies with it. You may add it to your pancake, waffle, or cake batter. You can also have a cup of chilled soy milk as an evening snack.

10. Spinach

A hundred grams of spinach contains 2.9 g of protein. So, now you know why Popeye’s muscles became stronger as soon as he gulped down a can of spinach! It is also an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, omega-3-fatty acids, and dietary fiber.

How To Consume Spinach

You can consume blanched spinach or have spinach smoothie for breakfast. Toss baby spinach with cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, olive oil, salt, and pepper for a delicious lunch.

Now, the main question is, how to include these high-protein whole food sources in your diet. Scroll down to get an idea.

Back To TOC

High-Protein Diet Chart For Weight Loss

MealsWhat To Eat
(8:00 a.m.)
l  Smoothie – oatmeal, banana, almond milk, flaxseeds, and cocoa powder
l  2 egg whites + ½ grapefruit + 6 almonds
(10:30 a.m.)
1 cup fresh fruits or 370 ml freshly pressed juice
(12:30 – 1:00 p.m.)
l  Tuna/tofu salad with olive oil dressing
l  1 cup mixed lentils soup
(3:30 p.m.)
1 cup green tea + 15 in-shell pistachios
(6:30 – 7:00 p.m.)
l  Mushroom and vegetable soup
l  Grilled fish/chicken with sautéed veggies

You must have noticed that this diet chart does not include protein bars and powders. That’s because of the following reason.

Back To TOC

Should You Consume Protein Bars And Powders?

You may consume protein bars and powders if:

  • You do vigorous workout every day.
  • You do not get enough protein from whole foods.
  • You are always on the go and do not have the time to sit and eat a meal made of whole food sources of protein.
  • Your dietitian or doctor has recommended taking protein powder.

NOTE: Avoid eating protein bars available in the market as they contain other forms of low-calorie sugar that are harmful. Make your own protein bars or bombs using flaxseeds, melon seeds, jaggery, nuts, sesame seeds, honey, and granola.

To follow a diet that is high in protein, you must workout. If you don’t, the protein you consume will get converted to sugar (gluconeogenesis) and get stored in your body as fat. Here’s an exercise routine that you may follow.

Back To TOC

Workout Routine


  • Neck tilts – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Neck rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Wrist rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Wide stance side bends – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Waist rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Side lunges – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Spot jogging – 1 minute
  • Standing alternate foot touch – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Jumping jacks – 2 sets of 25 reps
  • Ankle rotation – 1 set of 10 reps


  • High knees – 2 sets of 30 reps
  • Standing lateral leg raises – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Lunges – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Jumping lunges – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Squats – 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Jumping squats – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Jump rope – 2 mins
  • Jackknife – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Russian twists – 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Crunches – 2 sets of 12 reps
  • Tricep extensions – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Bicep curls – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Push-ups – 2 sets of 8 reps
  • Mountain climbers – 2 sets of 25 reps
  • Plank – 1 min
  • Cool-down stretches – 5 minutes

Do these for at least four hours a week to look and feel good. But the high-protein diet and exercising regularly routine works best when you consume meals that are cooked at home. Why? Because most “healthy” restaurant foods contain hidden calories, preservatives, and taste enhancers. Check out these easy and yummy recipes that you can cook at home.

Back To TOC

5 Easy High-Protein Recipes

1. Egg White Frittata

White Frittata
Image: Istock

This downy frittata with Mediterranean inputs is low in calories and high in proteins. It offers 21.6 g of protein in each serving.


  • 8 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 green and red pepper, each chopped
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • ¼ yellow onion
  • 2 cups spinach, fresh and washed
  • Salt and black pepper, 1 teaspoon each

How To Prepare

  1. In a heated pan, sauté onion and pepper for a few minutes until they soften.
  2. Add salt and pepper.
  3. Add egg whites and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour feta cheese and spinach.
  5. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes in a preheated oven.

2. Apple Walnut Oatmeal

Apple Walnut Oatmeal
Image: Istock

This healthy and tasty recipe with loads of nutrients is simple and quick to prepare. It offers 24 g of protein in one serving.


  • ¾ cup dry oatmeal
  • ¼ cup skim milk/ low-fat milk
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped apple
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

How To Prepare

  1. Cook oatmeal with milk.
  2. Add chopped walnuts and apple.
  3. Add cinnamon and a little honey for sweetening.

3. Fish Steak With Onions

Fish Steak With Onions
Image: Istock

Grilled fish is a tasty way to add more proteins to the diet along with omega-3 fatty acids. Fish steak with onions and other veggies will help build muscles and improve heart and brain functions. Grill-friendly vegetables can be paired with fish, such as cod steaks, tilefish, or grouper.


  • Thinly sliced medium onions
  • Peppercorns
  • Olive oil
  • Bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or white wine
  • 2 tuna steaks

How To Prepare

  1. Cook onions in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. When they turn golden brown, add wine, bay leaf, and peppercorns.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce flame, let simmer for 15 minutes over low flame.
  4. Move the onions to the side. Cook tuna in the oil until they become brown on both sides.
  5. Cook for a few minutes until the fish flakes easily, then serve with the onions.

4. Wheat-Free Pancakes

Wheat-Free Pancakes
Image: Istock

These hot pancakes are low in carbs and high in fiber and proteins, providing 6 g of proteins per serving.


  • 3 cups almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds (ground)
  • ½ teaspoon salt and baking soda, each
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk/almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil/coconut oil/melted butter

How To Prepare

  1. Mix almond meal, salt, flax seeds, and baking soda in a bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs with milk and oil/butter.
  3. Add flour mixture to the egg and whisk thoroughly to have a proper consistency for pancakes.
  4. Heat an oiled skillet on medium flame. Pour batter into it.
  5. Cook for three minutes and flip to ensure even cooking.
  6. Serve these delicious pancakes with Greek yogurt or maple syrup to add sweetness.

5. Tofu Sticks

Tofu Sticks
Image: Istock

Tofu is a great source of proteins and an excellent alternative for vegetarians. It is low in fat and high in isoflavones and has many health benefits, particularly for women.

What makes tofu even more appealing is that it can be cooked in different ways. This soybean-based protein snack called Tofu isn’t just for making stir-fry. It can also be sliced into sticks and baked to make tofu sticks, a high–protein snack. If you want to spice tofu sticks up, all you have to do is serve them with spicy teriyaki sauce.

Try out these easy, mouthwatering recipes, and you’d never have to look back at your unhealthy eating habits. But, following a high-protein diet may not be beneficial for everyone. Here are a few reasons you must avoid a high-protein diet.

Back To TOC

High-Protein Diet Risks

  • You may develop kidney stones.
  • It may lead to gout.
  • It may cause your liver to overwork, leading to liver malfunctioning.

Solution: Talk to your doctor or dietitian before deciding to be on a high-protein diet. Depending on your body’s metabolism, age, medical history, and genetics, your doctor/dietitian will give you a diet plan that will work for you. Do not follow a diet just because everyone else is doing it.

Back To TOC


A high-protein diet is scientifically proven to aid weight loss. Balance your intake of plant and animal sources of protein. Exercise regularly and gradually change your lifestyle. You will see results in three weeks – that’s a guarantee. Have questions? Post them in the comments box, and we’d be happy to answer. Take care!


  1. Dietary protein intake and human health.” Food & function, US National Library of Medicine.
  2. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  3. The influence of thermic effect of food on satiety.” European journal of clinical nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Postprandial thermogenesis is increased 100% on a high-protein, low-fat diet versus a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in healthy, young women.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  5. Effects of meals high in carbohydrate, protein, and fat on ghrelin and peptide YY secretion in prepubertal children.” The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, US National Library of Medicine.
  6. Critical role for peptide YY in protein-mediated satiation and body-weight regulation.” Cell Metabolism, Science Direct.
  7. A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations.” The American journal of clinical nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  8. The influence of thermic effect of food on satiety.” European journal of clinical nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  9. Impact of protein supplementation after bariatric surgery: A randomized controlled double-blind pilot study.” Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  10. The role of higher protein diets in weight control and obesity-related comorbidities.”
  11. To Gain Muscle Eat Whole Eggs, Not Just The Whites” American Council On Science And Health.
  12. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Processes” Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine.
  13. Omega-3 fatty acids in cancer.” Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, US National Library of Medicine.
  14. The Effects of Dietary Omega-3s on Muscle Composition and Quality in Older Adults” Current nutrition reports, US National Library of Medicine.
Was this article helpful?
Charushila Biswas

Charushila BiswasHealth & Wellness Writer

Read full bio of Charushila Biswas

Latest Articles