These Protein-Packed Foods Make It Easier To Stick With A Low-Carb Diet

With all the low-carb diets that have risen to prominence over the decades, many people find themselves cutting back on sugar and starches. One of the key ways to stay satisfied with fewer carbs is protein. Some may be surprised to learn that seeds, avocados, and beans all fall into the low-carb, high-protein category when fiber count is considered. From low-carb vegan to keto, diets can be easier to follow with these high-nutrient, protein-packed foods.

Pumpkin Seeds Are High In Magnesium

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Pumpkin seeds are delicious as a snack or as a crunchy part of a salad. A quarter-cup serving of the shelled seeds has only 4 carbs, which drops down to 1 net carb when you subtract the 3 grams of fiber it also contains.

A serving also contains a whopping 9 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat, making pumpkin seeds a satisfying addition to any daily food regime. They’re also low in sodium and high in magnesium.

Beans Are Low In Net Carbs Due To Their High Fiber

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It may be surprising to see beans on this list since they’re relatively high in carbohydrates. However, the immense amount of fiber in beans gives them a moderate net carb count, which is the carb total minus the grams of fiber.

One half-cup serving of pinto beans, for example, has 22.5 carbs, and 7.5 grams of fiber. That means its net carb count is only 15 grams! Plus, a serving has about 8 grams of protein, which is more than an egg has.

Venison Is A Low-Fat Meat

Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post/Getty Images
Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post/Getty Images

While eating healthy fats is especially paramount in a low-carb diet, it can be easy to overdo it. That’s why venison can be a popular choice for low-carb meat eaters. Derived from deer, the meat has less than 3 grams of fat per serving!

It also features zero carbs, low sodium, and a whopping 26 grams of protein. Venison is a great alternative when trying to balance out fats without upping your overall carb intake.

Tempeh Is Gut-Healthy

tempeh
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Alessandro Arnaboldi/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Similar to tofu, tempeh is a vegan food derived from soybeans. It is a gut-healthy food since it’s high in both probiotics and fiber, bringing it’s bet carb count down to a mere 4 grams per serving.

Each half-cup serving also contains a whopping 22 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, and just 10 mg of sodium. Those who are looking to cut down on or avoid animal products while staying low-carb may enjoy tempeh as an alternative.

Avocados Only Have 3 Net Carbs

Avocado
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Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images

Avocados are considered a superfood on account of how nutrient-dense they are, which also makes them highly satisfying. One avocado has 29 grams of predominantly healthy fats, 4 grams of protein, and 14 grams of fiber.

Their high fiber count brings the net carbs of one avocado down to just 3 grams. Eat half an avocado to tide you over until the next meal or throw one on top of your favorite dishes to stay fuller longer.

Edamame Is High In Iron

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Vegans and vegetarians who are looking to go low-carb will be especially wise to try edamame. Not only do these beans contain 18 grams of protein per serving, but they also are a good source of iron, which can be a challenge to get when cutting out red meat.

Edamame also features 8 grams of fiber per serving, bringing its net carb count down to just 6 grams. They only have 9 mg of sodium, so feel free to sprinkle a little salt on top.

Cottage Cheese Is Low-Cal And High-Protein

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Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

One high-protein food that vegetarians can enjoy is cottage cheese. While all dairy products have protein to some extent, cottage cheese is among the highest in this department. One half-cup serving provides 12 grams of protein at just 5 carbs.

A serving also has only 92 calories and 3 grams of fat, making it an ideal snack if you’re holding out for dinner. Cottage cheese does have 348 mg of sodium, but it’s unlikely you’ll overdo it given its generous serving size.

Shrimp Has Practically No Carbs

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If there were a king of low-carb, high-protein foods, it would probably be shrimp. A half-cup serving of the tasty food boasts a whopping 27 grams of protein and less than one gram of carbs.

The one downside is that shrimp is high in cholesterol, with one serving containing about half the American Heart Association’s recommended daily value. However, it has almost no fat, which can help offset some of the higher fat foods on this list.

Almonds Are One Of The Highest-Protein Nuts

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Anshu A/Unsplash

With 8 grams of protein per quarter cup, almonds are one of the highest protein nuts. They also feature 18 grams of heart-healthy fats and 5 grams of fiber to keep you full and satisfied.

The high fiber count means there’s only 2 net carbs in a serving of almonds. They’re also naturally sodium-free, so those cutting down can opt for unsalted variations. Add them to a salad to make it heartier or grab a handful as a snack.

Almond Flour

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jennyleenaguirre/Pixabay

Given the nutritional makeup of almonds, it should come as little surprise that almond flour is also a low-carb, high-protein food. This makes it a popular substitute for wheat flour, as it only contains 2 net carbs per serving.

Almond flour also has 9 grams of fat and 4 grams of serving to substantiate any baked goods you might make with it. Plus, there’s no sodium in it, so you can freely add salt to your preference.

Lentils Have Almost The Same Amout Of Protein And Fiber

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Pierre Navigo/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It’s rare that you find a food that has more than 15 grams of both protein and fiber per serving. Such is the case with lentils, which feature a whopping 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein per half-cup.

Their sky-high fiber count is the only reason lentils made it on this list. A serving has 40 carbs, but that number drops down to just 24 once you subtract the fiber.

One Egg Has 7 Grams Of Protein

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Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis/Unsplash

A single egg contains 7 grams of protein and less than half a gram of carbs, making it a perfect snack on the go or addition to any meal. Hard boil some eggs for a quick bite in between meals, throw a fried one on a burger, or scramble them for a meal on its own.

A single egg also contains 71 mg of sodium and is high in cholesterol, so it’s important to not rely too much on the high-protein food.

Salmon Is High In Omega-3s

B.C. Grilled Salmon Provencal: Crispy quinoa cakes,...
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Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Salmon is highly regarded for not only its high-protein, low-carb ratio, but also its prevalence of heart-healthy fats. That’s because the 11 grams of fat per serving contains high levels of omega-3s, which can help maintain healthy arteries and reduce inflammation.

The fatty fish is also full of flavor, especially when smoked or grilled. A serving also contains 17 grams of protein, zero carbs, and just 50 mg of sodium, making it a diet-friendly food.

Seitan Has 17 Grams Of Protein And 90 Calories

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Alessandro Arnaboldi/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Those who are on a vegan diet and don’t have an issue with gluten may benefit from incorporating seitan into their diet. The food consists of 17 grams of gluten protein that’s derived from wheat.

A serving has only 90 calories and 1 gram of fat, making it helpful when balancing out higher fat foods and watching calorie count. Seitan only has 3 net carbs, but its 340 mg of sodium make it something not to overindulge in.

Peanuts Are Fiber And Protein-Packed

Peanuts
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Rafa Samano/Cover/Getty Images

Despite their misleading name, peanuts are actually in the legume family. As with other legumes, peanuts are high in both protein and fiber. One serving has 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, bringing the net carb count down to 5 grams.

Peanuts are also highly flavorful and taste great on salads or yogurt. Toss them into a smoothie or eat them on their own for a nutrient-dense addition to your daily diet.

Nut And Seed Butters Are Tasty And Varied

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Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

All-natural peanut butters are tasty and boast only 2 net carbs, plus 8 grams of protein. Since peanuts are a common allergen, manufacturers have come out with a variety of nut and seeds butters that are also low-carb, high-protein.

Almond butter and sunflower seed butter are two common examples, and both have about 5 grams of both carbs and protein per serving. From hemp seed butter to cashew butter, there are plenty of alternatives to choose from.

Carbs In Yogurt Typically Come From Sugar

Strawberry yogurt with clean pistachio seeds.
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The key to finding a low-carb yogurt is the sugar count. While plain yogurt does contain some naturally-occurring milk sugar, many varieties have less than 9 grams per 7 ounce container.

What sends some brands into the dozens in terms of carb count is the added sugars. Look for a flavor sweetened with stevia or a plain alternative to add to savory meals. Greek yogurt is especially ideal since it is packed with as much as 20 grams of protein per serving.

Flaxseeds Can Be Added To Just About Anything

Flaxseeds in bowl.
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Anjelika Gretskaia/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Something you could easily add to yogurt, shakes, salads, or just about anything for a protein boost is flaxseed. They have very little taste but boast 5 grams of protein per serving.

The seeds are also packed with fiber, with 8 grams per serving. This brings the net carb count to just one gram! They also have a measly 10 mg of sodium and 13 grams of fat to keep you feeling more full longer.

Deli Meat Is Quick And Convenient

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Gábor Adonyi/Pixabay

Though deli meat is sometimes referred to as sandwich meat, you can do a lot more with it than just throw it on bread. Deli meat on its own is high in protein and low in carbs, making it a convenient snack.

The fat content varies depending on the meat, so those looking for a low-fat option might want turkey while those in need of more fats would benefit from something like salami. Roll a slice with avocado or hummus or substitute sandwich bread for lettuce.

Chickpeas Are Low-Fat And High-Fiber

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Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Chickpeas are another legume on this list and as such, they have a high amount of both protein and fiber. One half-cup serving features 9 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber, making the net carb count a moderate 21 grams.

A serving also has only 3.5 grams of fat, which can help prevent low-carb eaters from going overboard on fat intake. Throw some chickpeas into a salad or make your own hummus.

Halibut Is Heart-Healthy

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Joseph Victor Stefanchik for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Halibut is one of the types of fish that’s lower in fat but high in protein. One serving has just 2 grams of fat and no carbs, but 18 grams of protein.

The lean fish also has a mere 94 calories, making it a substantial option on days when there aren’t many calories to spare by dinnertime. Halibut also contains high levels of heart-healthy selenium and magnesium, and it has only 46 mg of sodium.

Chia Seeds Are Packed With Fiber

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ValeriaLu/Pixabay

Chia seeds are a convenient high-protein, low-carb food in that they can be added to just about anything to make a meal that much more filling. A single ounce serving features a whopping 10 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.

It also only has a net carb count of 2 grams and is naturally low in sugar and sodium. Sprinkle some over a salad or add it to a smoothie for a more substantial meal.

Beef Jerky Has More Protein Than Fat

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Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

An ounce of beef jerky features 9 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat, and less than 3 net carbs. It’s no wonder that beef jerky has been a favorite for its convenience and ability to satisfy hunger.

Those looking to avoid beef may prefer a turkey or vegetarian alternative, both of which are becoming more prevalent. One drawback about jerky is its high sodium content, so be sure to moderate as needed.

Tofu Has Only 1 Net Carb

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When it comes to meat alternatives, tofu is among the most well-known since its highly versatile and easy to prepare. A half a cup of tofu features 22 grams of protein and just a single net carb.

The low carb count is partially due to its 3 grams of fiber, which can help you feel more satisfied. Tofu is also sugar-free and has only 18 mg of sodium, plus 11 grams of predominantly healthy fats.

Canned Tuna Is Ready-Made And Protein-Packed

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Farhad Ibrahimzade/Unsplash

Part of sticking to a low-carb diet is having easy yet satisfying options available. That’s what makes canned tuna such a great pick. The ready-to-eat food is packed with 14 grams of protein per every 2 ounces!

It also has virtually no fat and zero carbs. Add some spices and mustard and dig right in, or throw it on top of a salad for a quick lunch. Just be sure to find a low-mercury and dolphin-safe brand.

Scallops Are Low In Fat And Calories

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Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

While fish tends to be low carb in general, something unique about scallops is that they’re also low in fat, with just half a gram per 3-ounce serving. This is especially convenient since scallops are often pan-fried, so you don’t have to feel you’re overdoing it with the oil.

The fish has only 5 carbs and 90 calories per serving, but boast a whopping 17 grams of protein. They do have 570 mg of sodium per serving, so it’s important to portion control.

Pistachios Are Naturally Sodium-Free

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As with many other types of nuts, pistachios are bursting with flavor and nutrients while having very little carbs. One serving has only 5 net carbs but still boasts 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of heart-healthy fats.

Pistachios are also naturally sodium-free, so saltless variations can help offset some of the higher-sodium foods on this list. We would also suggest getting them shelled since the process of breaking them apart can help with portion control.

Canned Sardines Have 16 Grams Of Protein

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BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Canned sardines are another protein-packed food that is ready-to-eat. They have a less fishy taste than anchovies and boast 16 grams of protein per can. They also have zero carbs and are full of omega-3s.

One thing that turns some off from canned sardines is the bones that are still present, but there are boneless varieties for extra convenience. Toss them into a salad or put them on top of scrambled eggs for a more substantial meal.

Chicken Is Flavorful And Protein-Packed

Peenk Peek Kai / Grilled Chicken Wings...
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A low-carb, high-protein list wouldn’t be complete without one of the most popular meats out there: chicken. One of the perks about chicken is that you can modify the fat content by being aware of the cut.

Chicken breasts are naturally lean, while thighs are more fatty. Either way, though, chicken has 30 or so grams of protein per serving, zero carbs, and loads of flavor with or without sauce.

Milk Is Muscle And Bone Healthy

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Fairfax Media via Getty Images

While milk is technically a beverage, its dense nutrition content makes it as filling as some snacks. One cup of milk contains 8 grams of protein and is high in vitamin D and calcium, making it both bone and muscle-healthy.

There are naturally-occurring sugars in milk, but a serving still only has 12 grams of carbs. Since milk comes in a variety of fat variations, you can modify to your dietary needs and add a boost of protein to shakes or meals.