What are the best lean protein choices for weight loss?

There are plenty of healthy protein choices from which to choose for weight loss. Aim for leaner cuts of meat or poultry, as they are lower in fat and calories. In addition, eat more fish, which is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. You also get the benefit of omega-3 fatty acids when you eat fatty fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, and trout. For instance, tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (n-3 PUFA), eicosopentoic (EPA), and docosahexoic (DHA). These fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation and may help in managing chronic diseases such as arthritis. Vegetarians may prefer whole foods that contain alpha linolenic, another omega-3 fatty acid, including soybeans, canola oil, flaxseed and nuts.

Be sure to include an array of soy foods, which are naturally low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. Soy, the most complete vegetable protein, is also rich in vitamin E, fiber, calcium, magnesium, lecithin, riboflavin, thiamine, folic acid, iron and essential fatty acids and should be a regular part of your weight loss plan.

Also include low-fat dairy, legumes, beans, nuts, nut butters, and seeds, as these foods are healthy sources of protein.
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Good sources of protein for weight loss include soy foods such as tofu, soy nuts, soy milk and edamame, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, lean beef such as a round or tenderloin cut, chicken, turkey, fish, canadian bacon, eggs, low fat milk, cheese and yogurt. Some snack ideas include a parfait with plain yogurt, fresh fruit and cereal. Boil eggs to have on hand in the refrigerator, or packets of tuna or salmon, low fat cheese slices or avocado with whole grain Ezekiel brand bread. Make a trail mix with dried fruit, granola and nuts.

Lisa Lillien
Nutrition & Dietetics

For a truly satisfying meal or snack, protein is the way to go. In this video, "Hungry Girl" author Lisa Lillien lists her three go-to protein choices, why they're her favorites and easy, tasty ways to use them.

Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics

There are no "best" lean protein choices for weight loss. Any lean protein will contain fewer calories to help you lose weight. The lean protein will also provide essential nutrients. Choose lean sources of beef, such as 95% lean hamburger. Choose a loin cut of red meat. Don't eat chicken or turkey skin. Fish is a lean choice. Beans, soy, and nuts are great lean sources of protein. 

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics

White meat of chicken and turkey. Lean red meats like filet and flank steak. Most fish and seafood are lean even though they do contain fat. The fat is healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Egg whites and low fat cheese. Beans, tofu, miso paste. All foods except fruit and sugar contain some protein. If you are a vegetarian you can get lean protein from beans, whole grains, vegetables, and seeds and nuts.

Nell Stephenson
Nutrition & Dietetics

The key to eating lean proteins is variety, and being aware of where you are sourcing it from so you can ensure the best quality. Watch nutritional coach Nell Stephenson discuss lean proteins, and why seafood is an especially great option.

Arthur S. Agatston, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

The best lean protein choices for weight loss are lean cuts of beef (sirloin), turkey, chicken breast and lean bacon, as well as grains like quinoa and chickpeas. Watch cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD, share his favorite sources of lean protein.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.