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15 Top Low-Calorie Foods (High in Protein)

by | Nutrition

Mar 27, 2022

A calorie is a unit used to describe the amount of energy a particular food offers our body. Some foods offer a large number of calories and are called high-calorie foods—these foods are usually associated with weight gain, as the body does not use up all the energy stored in them; it saves some up for reuse, and the energy builds up. Other foods are considered low-calorie foods and are considered healthy because they only provide the calories the body needs per time.

Eating low-calorie foods is a healthy practice, especially when the foods are rich in nutrients like protein. Here are 15 top low-calorie foods, high in protein, which you should eat: 

1. Plain Greek Yoghurt

Greek yoghurt is made in a way that is different from how regular yoghurt is made. During its making, the liquid whey is removed, and what is left is a creamier yoghurt with fewer calories and a highly concentrated amount of protein. 

As much as 15 – 20 grams of protein for every six ounces. 

This drink should be on your list if you are looking to eat meals with low calories. In addition to the rich and high protein content, it also contains a low amount of fat and less amount of sugar. 

It makes a great addition to other low-calorie, high protein meals, too; it can be taken with water, or rather ‘yoghurt’ down other meals.

2. White Poultry

Poultry is a rich source of protein, whether the flesh or the eggs. 

White poultry, when stripped of skin, makes a great low-calorie, high-protein meal. The skin of chicken happens to have a lot of calories (Up to 200) and a rich amount of fat. 

So, strip the skin of your white poultry, and you have got yourself a rich protein meal that is low in calories. Eat the breasts. The breast of chicken and turkey contains a lot of protein. 

You can water this down with plain, low-fat Greek yogurt. 

3. Cheese

Cheese does contain a large amount of protein. 226 grams of cottage cheese is known to contain as much as 28 grams of protein while offering low calories. 

It is a great meal to include in your low-calorie food plan. Containing a good amount of calcium, it can help with strengthening your bones and teeth.

There are many variants of cottage cheese from manufacturers. Just go for the one that works for you. 

4. Tofu

Here is something for veggies or people who would rather stay away from animal protein sources. 

Tofu is a good protein source from plants and contains essentially all of the essential amino acids our body needs. Just about 80 grams of tofu contains 9 grams of protein while offering as little as 71 calories. 

There are different kinds of tofu, and you should go for the one that you prefer the most. You can include tofu in your soups and make a number of recipes with it. 

5. Lean Beef

Even though beef can contain a large amount of fat, lean beef does not contain very much and should be on the menu for low-calorie, high-protein foods. 

Beef is considered lean if it contains not more than 10 -12 grams of fat per 100 grams. 


In addition to protein, lean beef contains a good amount of other nutrients such as vitamin B and selenium—which is great for the nervous system.

It also contains zinc and calcium. It can be added to a number of recipes and is great for muscle growth. 

6. Milk

As you may have noticed by now, many foods from animal sources are very rich in protein. Eggs. Meat. Poultry, etc. Milk is not an exception. 

Milk should be included in your low-calorie, high-protein eating plan if it is low-fat milk. Low-fat milk is milk that has been stripped of most of its fatty content. 

It contains just about 2 grams of fat and roughly about 110 calories per 1-cup serving, unlike whole milk. If you do not like yoghurt, milk can come in handy as a great alternative. You can drink it whilst eating some cheese. 

7. Pork

Pork, like regular beef, is a rich source of protein and can be made ‘lean.’ Lean meat is meat that is known to contain no more than 10 grams of fat per 100 grams of meat. 

Lean pork, or pork loin, should be included in your menu if you are seeking a low-calorie meal that tastes great and does your body a lot of good.

While a rich source of protein, pork is also a rich source of vitamins such as vitamin A, which is great for our eyes, vitamin B, which is great for the blood, selenium, and zinc. 

8. Shrimp

Seafood is a rich source of healthy protein, too. Shrimp is not an exception. 85 grams or 3 ounces of un-breaded frozen shrimp contains about 110 calories and as much as 22 grams of protein while containing other antioxidants and minerals. 

Include shrimps in your plan as you eat low-calorie, high protein foods. But be careful to know your body and the things you can and can’t take. 

People who show allergies to seafood had best stay away from consuming shrimp. People who have heart disease too: during the processing of frozen shrimp, a lot of salt is added. 

This salt can prove harmful to people who suffer from hypertension and other heart-related ailments. 

9. Egg White

Eggs make a very healthy diet. Whole egg contains most of the nutrients your body needs, especially proteins and healthy fatty acids. 

If you want a meal that is low in calories but rich in protein, eggs should be on the menu. But not the whole egg. Just the whites. Egg yolk contains cholesterol and some more calories compared to just the white.  

Egg white contains as little as about one-quarter of the calories contained in a whole egg. Add eggs to a number of recipes. Make omelets. Be creative around it.

10. Tilapia

Tilapia fish is white-fleshed and contains few calories and a lot of protein. Whitefish like tilapia provide just about 80 – 130 calories, and 20 grams of protein for every 100 gram of white fish served.


In addition to protein, tilapia contains omega-3 fatty acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties, and also minerals such as selenium and zinc. Include this in as many recipes as you choose when you eat low-calorie, high-protein foods.

However, know that while lean white fish contains few calories, it also contains few essential nutrients compared to other fishes like salmon. So, it is a great idea to eat both white fish and regular fish. 

11. Black Beans

Black beans are grouped under a class of plants called legumes. They are called turtle beans by some people because they are hard and look like small turtle shells.

Black beans contain a rich amount of protein, minerals, and vitamins while offering low calories. 

The iron, phosphorus, and calcium content in these beans are great for the bones, and the fact that these beans contain low sodium means that they will not raise blood pressure.

It also contains fiber, which is great for the lower G.I tract. 

12. Tempeh

Tempeh, like tofu, is made from soybean and might taste the same. It is a great option for vegetarians or people who have decided to stay away from meat. Tempeh has more protein than tofu, though, and makes a good low-calorie, high-protein diet. 

One cup of Tempeh contains about 17 grams of protein! Include Tempeh in your low-calorie, high-protein diet. It can go alongside other meals such as plain yogurt. 

13. Quinoa

Like Tempeh and tofu, quinoa is also a great source of protein for vegetarians who do not want animal protein sources. 

Quinoa is a whole grain. And a cup of quinoa provides just around 8.14 grams of protein. One of the amino acids contained in this grain, lysine, is essential for the production of other amino acids. 

The high fiber content here is great for the lower digestive tract. And the antioxidants contained in it mop off dangerous free radicals from the body. It is a great idea to include quinoa in your diet. 

14. Oats

Oats do not contain so many calories. However, it does contain protein. A lot of it. 100 grams of oats can contain as much as 17 grams of proteins. 

For a low-calorie, high-fat meal, include oats in your diet. It tastes great and is pretty easy to cook. 

It can go alongside other meals, such as milk and plain yoghurt, and one can even decide to eat it alongside cheese. 

15. Guava: 

Guava is a tropical fruit. The leaves of the plant and the fruit itself are edible. Guava makes a great low-calorie, high-protein meal. 

One whole serving of guava contains around 37 calories and one gram of protein alongside other nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 


The vitamins in guava can improve one’s immune system, helping the body fend off diseases. 

Photo by Alison Marras on Unsplash

By Sara Leandro

Sara Leandro is a certified health coach who helps others feel their best through individualized lifestyle changes that meet their unique needs and health goals.


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