Easy High-Protein, Low-Carb Meals
Satiate your appetite longer with these dietitian-approved ideas.
You often hear about eating meals high in protein, low in carbs — or both. But why? “Meals higher in protein and lower in carbs will satiate your appetite longer,” says Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN, author of Total Body Diet for Dummies. “They take more time to digest. As a result, they stabilize blood sugar longer too. That means less hangriness!” She adds that protein has a slightly higher thermic effect on the body than carbs or fat. “This means your body requires a bit more calories to metabolize higher-protein meals,” she says. And that’s a weight-loss win!
Looking for easy meals that also happen to be high in protein and low in carbs? Here are a few dietitian-approved ideas you can whip up in no time.
Spicy Soy Sesame Salmon with Grilled Brussels Sprouts
Retelny calls this recipe her “super simple, high-protein, low-carb meal.” Here’s how to make it: Marinate a 4-ounce salmon fillet in a mixture of low-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup and sriracha for an hour or more in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, toss halved Brussels sprouts with grapeseed oil, smoked paprika, and a dash each of black pepper and salt. Then wrap everything together in parchment paper and grill at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. Your taste buds will thank you!
Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Noodles and Tomato Sauce
“By cutting down on carbohydrates, you leave more room for extra vegetables,” says Lauren Pendergast, RDN, a dietitian in Jersey City, NJ. Her go-to high-protein, low- carbohydrate meal? It’s super tasty and simple to whip up, and it grants you plenty of leftovers! First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then make the meatballs: Combine a pound of extra-lean ground turkey, 1/3 cup whole-wheat seasoned breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup chopped onion, 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan, an egg, and a dash each of onion powder and garlic powder. Roll the mixture into a dozen meatballs, then bake them for 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, spiralize some zucchini — or, if you’re keen on shortcuts, you can buy it pre-spiraled — and saute it in a pan with olive oil, garlic and onion. Plate the zoodles with three meatballs, then top with tomato sauce. “This meal is a great source of protein, with about 30 grams from the meatballs,” says Pendergast. “And it provides you with a healthy serving of veggies.”
Baked Cod with Roasted Asparagus and Quinoa
“This meal is one of two fish meals you should be eating weekly for all the nutrients that seafood provides — particularly omega-3 fats, which are good for your brain and heart,” says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDN, author of Expect the Best. It’s really easy to make. First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Next, place a pound of skinless cod in a baking dish. Top with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs; cover with a 15-ounce, un-drained can of chopped diced tomatoes with herbs, plus 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily in the middle. This recipe serves four, and Ward suggests pairing it with roasted asparagus and cooked quinoa. “You get high-quality protein from the fish and the quinoa,” she notes.
Want a few more low-carb, high-protein ideas? Try these:
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, such as EverydayHealth.com, ReadersDigest.com, NBCNews.com and more. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List, where she shares easy, healthy recipes.
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