These Are the Best High-Protein, Low-Carb Foods for Muscle Growth

Training is among the greatest methods to stimulate muscle progress and increase your strength; nonetheless, there’s a complete different facet of the coin to contemplate. Diet and coaching work hand-in-hand to supply the very best outcomes to your targets. Like coaching itself, vitamin begins easy however will get extra advanced the deeper you dive.

Protein is, indubitably, a extremely sought-after nutrient to your eating regimen. It supplies the constructing blocks for brand new muscle and facilitates total restoration. Carbohydrates are additionally essential, however aren’t practically as tough to find and scarf down when the necessity arises. 

Protein-rich food sources.
Credit score: Antonina Vlasova / Shutterstock

Matching your protein and carbohydrate consumption to your fitness goals is an ongoing battle. Discovering the fitting meals that complement your wants at a second’s discover goes a good distance in optimizing your features. Listed here are the very best high-protein, low carbohydrate meals to troubleshoot your dietary wants. 

9 Finest Excessive-Protein, Low Carbohydrate Meals

Be aware: All dietary data is sourced from the USDA’s FoodData Central resource, and is rounded to the closest entire quantity.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a better protein model of normal yogurt. It sometimes incorporates much less sugar than its customary counterpart as nicely — significantly while you devour plain flavors. No matter this macronutrient distinction, Greek yogurt continues to be a very good supply of calcium. One seven-ounce serving of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt incorporates:

  • 20g protein
  • 8g carbohydrate
  • 146 energy

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is one other milk product that’s straightforward to leverage for a burst of protein with only a smidge of carbohydrates. The cheese curd is the focus of cottage cheese, and with it’s a handy bundle of high-protein goodness.

A person taking a spoon of cottage cheese from a bowl.
Credit score: Nina Buday / Shutterstock

[Read More: Nutrition for Athletes — How to Eat for Muscle and Performance]

Every four-ounce serving incorporates:

  • 12g protein
  • 5.5g carbohydrate
  • 92 energy


Eggs are a serious staple for practically each family, not to mention each single coaching fanatic. Eggs pack an enormous punch of protein with a really small calorie rely — largely as a result of carbohydrates are nearly fully absent from eggs. One entire extra-large egg supplies:

  • 7g protein
  • 0.5g carbohydrate
  • 80 energy


Tofu supplies a high-protein, low carbohydrate various for non-meat eaters or simply tofu aficionados normally. Tofu can be made out of soy, which is a uncommon full protein supply from a non-animal product. Most beans and legumes are incomplete proteins, which implies they don’t present all of the amino acids it’s good to build muscle — however tofu does! One half-cup of uncooked tofu incorporates:

  • 22g protein
  • 3.5g carbohydrate
  • 181 energy

Nut Butters

Nut butters are a high-protein, low carbohydrate staple, though they’re usually nearer to equal of their protein-to-carbohydrate ratio. Additionally, you need to be cautious of the upper fats content material. Fats is a crucial macronutrient in its personal proper, however fats has over double the energy per gram as protein or carbohydrates. This makes choices corresponding to almond butter an amazing burst of taste, but additionally greater on the full calorie rely. One tablespoon of almond butter incorporates:

  • 3g protein
  • 3g carbohydrate
  • 98 energy


Edamame is a extra uncommon plant-based addition to the high-protein, low carbohydrate checklist. Vegetation are sometimes decrease high quality sources of protein however pack excessive dietary worth from nutritional vitamins or phytochemicals. Edamame is a potent supply of practically all macronutrients given its small dimension. However even higher, edamame truly has all of the amino acids you’d discover from an animal product.

A basket and a small bowl of edamame.
Credit score: Mironov Vladimir / Shutterstock

[Read More: The Complete Guide to Pre-Workout Supplements]

One cup of edamame presents:

  • 13g protein
  • 9g carbohydrate
  • 129 energy


Shrimp is a severely underrated protein supply — and provided that it’s seafood, it’s additionally naturally low in carbohydrate. Whereas different animal merchandise corresponding to beef or rooster usually dominate the procuring checklist of muscle-bound meal-preppers, shrimp packs a serious punch of protein in its small dimension. One three-ounce portion of shrimp brings:

  • 20g protein
  • 0g carbohydrate
  • 84 energy


Scallops are one other unsung hero of high-protein, low carbohydrate dietary choices. Whereas they aren’t a staple on the meal-prep manufacturing line, scallops are an extraordinarily dense supply of protein nonetheless. If you happen to’re bored of tilapia or shrimp, attempt scallops as an alternative. A 3-ounce serving of scallops supplies:

  • 10g protein
  • 3g carbohydrate
  • 58 energy

Protein Powder

Protein powders are a little bit of a “gimmie” for a high-protein, low carbohydrate checklist. Nevertheless, while you’re seeking to eat strategically and hit vitamin targets, understanding your whole choices is an efficient approach to navigate some dicey last-minute meals. 

[Read More: The Best Foods for Energy Before, During, and After Your Workouts]

Whereas entire meals ought to dominate most of your meals for the very best total well being and efficiency outcomes, protein powders come within the clutch. For instance, one scoop of Optimum Nutrition model whey protein powder incorporates:

  • 24g protein
  • 3g carbohydrate
  • 120 energy

What Are Protein and Carbohydrates?

Protein and carbohydrates are two of your main macronutrients (the third being fats). Each offer you important energy to carry out train and day by day duties, however protein is a little more distinctive. Protein supplies constructing blocks for progress and restore of many tissues inside your physique — most significantly, muscle.


Carbohydrates present a brilliant environment friendly supply of power so that you can devour throughout train. Additionally they act as a calorie reservoir (together with the opposite macronutrients) for sustaining a caloric surplus while you’re making an attempt to develop. You must also goal for a considerable quantity of carbohydrates per day as they forestall you from burning protein as an power supply. (1)


Protein is among the most sought-after macronutrients that can assist you get essentially the most out of your coaching. Particularly, the amino acids you take up by consuming them are the constructing blocks of latest muscle. Animal merchandise are significantly good sources as they offer you all of the amino acids you want.

[Read More: The Best Protein Intake Calculator for Muscle Gain and Fat Loss]

In an effort to maximize your outcomes, goal for a day by day protein consumption round 1 gram per pound of body weight per day. (2)

Advantages of Excessive-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Meals

Every macronutrient has its personal distinct place in your eating regimen. The mixture of high-protein and low carbohydrate meals assist present a ton of satiety, construct lean muscle, and are tremendous calorically environment friendly.

Excessive Satiety

Satiety is the sensation of fullness you get after a big meal — or one excessive in protein. Whenever you’re constructing muscle on a better calorie eating regimen, it’s useful to have many meals unfold all through the day. 

However, weight-reduction plan down requires you to considerably in the reduction of in your complete day by day energy as a way to enter a calorie deficit. In both state of affairs, pumping up your high-protein, low carbohydrate meals helps to tide you over between meals is a sensible selection. 

Constructing Muscle

Constructing muscle requires a strong quantity of protein in your eating regimen. Your aim is to maximise protein synthesis on a steady foundation, which implies stuffing as a lot protein into every day as potential is precedence primary. 

An athlete pouring protein powder in a shaker bottle.
Credit score: – Yuri A / Shutterstock

[Read More: The Gymgoer’s Guide to Whey Protein]

Sustaining persistently excessive protein consumption will get difficult, however high-protein low carbohydrate meals sources assist considerably. Additionally they assist attain your protein targets on the day with out risking going over your complete calorie necessities on the identical time. On this means, you’ll have a a lot simpler time rising muscle and staying lean as you go.

Reasonable Calorie Content material

Protein and carbohydrates offer you 4 energy per gram every. Fats and alcohol ship 9 and seven energy respectively, making protein and carbohydrates lean by comparability. With the mix of high-protein and low carbohydrates, your meals selections listed here are going to pack fairly a wallop by way of advantages and satiety with out all of the added energy.

How A lot Protein To Eat?

The quantity of protein you must devour on the day by day ought to be scaled to your targets. Your exercise stage and quantity of strenuous train additionally performs a job in dictating how a lot protein you must eat per day. 

For a sedentary life-style, 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of physique weight per day is ample to keep up (2) – however upkeep and a sedentary life-style doesn’t sound like your aim.


[Read More: How Much Protein Do You Actually Need Per Day?]

To utterly maximize your progress and restoration, consuming about 1 gram of protein per pound of physique weight per day appears to be the landmark to shoot for. If you end up in a calorie deficit (maybe to chop physique fats), pushing a contact greater has been proven to be useful as nicely. (2)

Finest Means To Eat Protein

As your coaching targets progress, you must praise them with extra detailed dietary methods as nicely. Accounting for complete day by day protein is the place you must begin, however quantity per meal, and meal distribution lend extra advantages.

Complete Every day Protein

Whenever you’re simply beginning in your coaching and dietary journey, the most important rock you’ll flip over is solely getting sufficient protein. your dietary selections and understanding how a lot protein, carbohydrates, fats, and complete energy you’re consuming is a big step. 

You’ll see huge progress by merely organizing and guaranteeing you’re getting ample protein each day.

Serving Measurement

As soon as you’re persistently consuming your really helpful quantity of protein per day, there’s one other vitamin technique you may take a look at. The maximal charge of protein synthesis (tissue progress and restore) triggered from consuming protein is very individualized. 

With that in thoughts, a secure wager for nearly everybody could be a serving dimension of round 40 grams per meal. If you happen to’re seeking to err on the secure facet to maximise your progress — goal for this 40 gram benchmark (or extra) per meal. (2)

Meal Distribution

After nailing your complete day by day consumption and setting protein targets set per meal – the time you are taking between meals is knob to show. Consuming a high-protein meal elevates your muscle protein synthesis above its regular baseline for just a few hours. Your physique is at all times constructing muscle, however this is a chance to spike your protein synthesis charge. 

Meals in separate containers, prepared in advance.
Credit score: Fevziie / Shutterstock

[Read More: The Best Healthy Fast Food Options at the Most Popular U.S. Chains]

Attempt spacing your meals about 3 hours aside. This fashion, every time your protein artificial charge trickles again right down to baseline, you may elevate it all through the day. Whereas these are refined suggestions and methods, in the long term they add up. (2)

Frequent Protein Misconceptions

Whereas there’s increasingly more analysis establishing that prime protein consumption is usually secure, (3) there are nonetheless loads of widespread misconceptions.

Don’t Eat Too A lot

Though there are methods to maximise your potential advantages by spacing your protein consumption into particular sized servings, (2) that doesn’t imply consuming in extra is essentially wasted. 

Going past these benchmarks doesn’t seem to have damaging well being results nor does it counter the full day by day profit for muscle progress. If something, it merely slows or elongates the digestion course of. (4)

Cautious on Your Kidneys

Protein consumption is commonly some extent of rivalry from the standpoint of kidney injury. Whereas there are dietary concerns for anybody at the moment coping with kidney illness or dysfunction, apparently wholesome people don’t want to fret. (5) Moreover, a protracted excessive protein consumption (a lot greater than even the top-end suggestions) doesn’t seem to trigger any ill-effects on wholesome educated people. (3)

Get Consuming

There are many coaching and vitamin classes to be taught when you chase your targets. Studying to research your meals selections into their macronutrients is an especially highly effective instrument. 

Excessive-protein, low carbohydrate meals give you ample strategic methods of reaching your potential. These protein-packed choices gained’t break your calorie or carbohydrate financial institution, however will assist with assembly your macronutrient targets and optimizing your eating regimen methods. 


  1. Vazquez, J. A., Kazi, U., & Madani, N. (1995). Protein metabolism throughout weight discount with very-low-energy diets: analysis of the unbiased results of protein and carbohydrate on protein sparing. The American journal of scientific vitamin, 62(1), 93–103.
  2. Jäger, R., Kerksick, C. M., Campbell, B. I., Cribb, P. J., Wells, S. D., Skwiat, T. M., Purpura, M., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Ferrando, A. A., Arent, S. M., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Stout, J. R., Arciero, P. J., Ormsbee, M. J., Taylor, L. W., Wilborn, C. D., Kalman, D. S., Kreider, R. B., Willoughby, D. S., Hoffman, J. R., … Antonio, J. (2017). Worldwide Society of Sports activities Diet Place Stand: protein and train. Journal of the Worldwide Society of Sports activities Diet, 14, 20. 
  3. Antonio, J., Ellerbroek, A., Silver, T., Vargas, L., Tamayo, A., Buehn, R., & Peacock, C. A. (2016). A Excessive Protein Weight-reduction plan Has No Dangerous Results: A One-12 months Crossover Examine in Resistance-Educated Males. Journal of vitamin and metabolism, 2016, 9104792. 
  4. Schoenfeld, B.J., Aragon, A.A. How a lot protein can the physique use in a single meal for muscle-building? (2018). Implications for day by day protein distribution. J Int Soc Sports activities Nutr 15, 10, 2016.
  5. Martin, W. F., Armstrong, L. E., & Rodriguez, N. R. (2005). Dietary protein consumption and renal perform. Diet & metabolism, 2, 25.

Featured Picture: Antonina Vlasova / Shutterstock

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