If you’re trying to lose weight, it may surprise you to learn it’s more about what you do eat that what you don’t. Yes, it’s true that in order lose weight you must burn more calories than you take in. It seems like a simple equation, but many people fail at losing weight because they also lose muscle. Along with the muscle loss comes an increase in your percentage of body fat.
Muscle drives metabolic rate more than any other factor. When you lose muscle, your metabolic rate drops. You struggle to keep off the weight you lost. Building muscle fires up your metabolism and helps you burn fat. The formula is to eat plenty of healthy food with muscle-building protein. Choose from this list of 21 foods to lose weight and gain muscle.
Eggs are great for a high-protein diet. They contain lots of leucine, an amino acid important for gaining muscle. They also contain healthy fats and B vitamins that are important for energy production.
2. Chicken Breast
Chicken is an important food to help gain muscle. A three-ounce serving contains A whopping 26 grams of high-quality protein. Some research suggests chicken aids in muscle gain more than other meats.
Salmon not only helps build muscle. It’s good for your overall health. A three-ounce serving contains 17 grams of protein, several important B vitamins, and around two grams of omega-3 fatty acids that are important to muscular health.
With 20 grams of protein in a three-ounce serving, tuna also has generous amounts of vitamin A, B vitamins, and plenty of omega-3 fatty acids thought to support muscle health.
5. Greek Yogurt
Dairy is a good source of high-quality protein. The best choice in dairy food, however, is Greek yogurt. It contains twice the amount as regular yogurt and has a mixture of slow-digesting casein protein and fast-digesting whey protein thought to increase lean mass.
6. Lean Beef
Research shows that lean red meat may increase lean mass dramatically along with weight training. It’s packed with plenty of protein, minerals, creatine, and B vitamins for energy.
Soybeans are popular in vegetarian and vegan diets because a half cup contains 14 grams of protein. The fat in soybeans is unsaturated and they have a good supply of vitamins and minerals.
For almost pure protein, add low-fat, low-carb shrimp to your diet often. A three-ounce serving will provide 18 grams of protein and not a lot of calories. Steam it or boil it for a great diet food.
9. Cottage Cheese
With 28 grams of protein per cup, a serving of cottage cheese makes a great lunch or
snack. It’s also a good source of leucine, an amino acid important for building muscle mass.
10. Turkey Breast
Turkey breast is a good food to eat for plenty of protein and not many fats or carbs. It’s an excellent source of niacin, a B vitamin that helps the body process fats and carbs.
There are lots of varieties of beans, and all of them are great for supporting lean muscle building. Pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, and more all have around 15 grams of high-quality protein.
Like shrimp, scallops have lots of protein and without a lot of fat. They are excellent for adding protein to your diet while keeping the calorie count low. Three ounces give you around 20 grams of protein at the cost of less than 100 calories.
13. Lean Jerky
For high-quality protein from a quick snack on the go, it’s hard to beat lean jerky. Since most fat is removed from it during processing, almost all calories in lean jerky are derived from protein.
For a good source of protein along with carbs for energy, make chickpeas, or garbanzo beans a diet staple. One cup of canned chickpeas have 12 grams of protein and 50 grams of carbs.
Snack on roasted, unsalted peanuts. They have more of the amino acid leucine that any of the other plant-based protein foods. Eat in moderation if you are counting calories. A half-cup has around 423 calories.
Produced from soy milk, tofu is a popular meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians. Not only is it a good source of protein, tofu has calcium important for proper muscle function and bone health.
17. Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin is a lean cut of meat with not a lot of fat. A three-ounce serving gives you 18 grams of protein with only two grams of fat. Researchers say it is similar to beef and chicken when it comes to high-quality protein.
Milk has the reputation of being one of nature’s most perfect foods. It has the right mix of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Like other dairy products, milk provides those fast and slow-digesting proteins so good for muscle growth.
Almonds are another good protein snack for on-the-go. A half-cup of plain almonds contain 16 grams of protein. Snack lightly as they are high in calories. A half-cup has 400.
Quinoa is rich in protein and gives you carbohydrates to fuel up on for quick energy. One cup of cooked quinoa provides eight grams of protein.
Cooked brown rice is not a huge source of protein. There are only five grams in a cup. However, like quinoa, it’s a good source of carbohydrates to fuel physical activity a few hours before exercising.
To maximize weight loss, combine healthy food with weight and strength training exercise. More muscle mass will ensure that your metabolism stays in high gear.