If any of your goals for this year involve losing weight or managing your weight loss, there are two key places you may want to put your focus: protein and your metabolism. Your metabolism determines the rate at which your body burns calories, so having a faster metabolic rate means you may have a better chance of burning calories and shedding pounds. Research has shown that protein-heavy foods can actually help boost your metabolism, which is why we’ve collected a list of high-protein foods for you to try.
But first, let’s look at how all of this works. The thermic effect of food (TEF) is how much energy an item requires for your body to digest it, and according to Nutrition & Metabolism, it is considered a metabolic response to food. Protein-heavy foods require the most energy and therefore cause a higher TEF. This study by Nutrition & Metabolism states that foods high in protein can increase your metabolic rate by 15–30%, which is much higher than the 5–10% rate for carbohydrates and 0–3% for fats.
So, if you’re in need of some ideas for different high-protein foods you can incorporate into your diet for a faster metabolism, keep scrolling! We’ve gathered a dietitian-recommended list of healthy foods that naturally contain protein, which can hopefully help you feel energized and more confident about achieving your wellness and weight loss goals.
If you’re looking for a fairly easy way to start your day off right, you may want to try some eggs. Whether you scramble, fry, or throw them in an omelet, this high-protein food can help boost your metabolism.
“Eggs are chock-full of high quality protein and a slew of nutrients, and this protein source is super-versatile and delicious,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility. “And, data shows that an egg breakfast can enhance weight loss when combined with an energy-deficit diet.”
Protein per cup: 18 grams
When you find yourself in need of a midday snack, a topping for your yogurt, or just an added crunch for your next batch of brownies, you may want to consider some walnuts.
“This type of nut is a natural source of plant-based protein, fiber, and ALA omega-3 fatty acids,” says Manaker, “and increasing daily consumption of nuts is associated with less long-term weight gain and a lower risk of obesity in adults.” At about 18 grams of protein per cup, walnuts have more protein than chicken and many types of fish.
Protein per 7 ounce serving of Greek yogurt: 20 grams
Yogurt is an excellent way to get a boost of protein that can help you keep your metabolic rate up. At around 20 grams of protein per serving, it’s hard to many foods with more of this nutrient than yogurt.
“This food (especially the variations without added sugar) has unique properties that may have a potential role in appetite and glycemic control. For instance, yogurt consumption is linked to an increase in body fat loss, decrease in food intake and increase in satiety, decrease in glycemic and insulin response, altered gut hormone response, and replacement of less healthy foods, according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition,” says Manaker.
Protein per 3-ounce serving: 21 grams
If you are comfortable eating animal proteins and are on the search for a high-quality, protein-heavy food, beef may be a great choice for you.