If you are trying to find a way to eat healthier foods, or you want to lose weight without focusing on calories, a high-fiber and high-protein diet may be worth considering. This type of menu may end up being low enough in carbohydrates and calories to help you control your energy levels and lose weight. If you have health concerns or need to lose weight, consult your doctor for the best way to address your worries.
Eating a diet that is high in fiber and protein may help you lose weight by decreasing hunger. Fiber and protein in your meal slow down stomach emptying so you feel full more quickly and you take longer to get hungry again after your meal. This may help you eat less at the next meal. For a menu that is high in fiber and protein, focus on choosing a couple of good food sources of each at each meal and snack. Stick to low-calorie foods or choices that are low in saturated fat and high in vitamins and minerals.
A high-fiber diet may prevent constipation and diverticulitis, help you control your blood sugar levels and reduce levels of bad LDL cholesterol in your blood to lower your risk of heart disease. Dietary fiber comes from the parts of plant foods that your body cannot digest. Good sources of dietary fiber include nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains and legumes such as beans, peas and lentils. You should get at least 21 to 38 grams of dietary fiber per day.
You need protein in your diet to support your immune system, muscles, heart and other body structures. Iowa State University states that most people need about 0.4 gram of protein each day for each pound of body weight, and athletes may need up to about 0.8 gram per pound of body weight. Healthy protein choices include lean poultry, fatty fish with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, egg whites and reduced-fat dairy products. Plant-based, low-fat proteins include soy, legumes, grains, vegetables and nuts.
A day on a high-fiber and high-protein diet might start with a breakfast of two eggs, with 12 grams of protein, scrambled with 1/2 cup of mixed vegetables, with 4 grams of dietary fiber, along with 1 cup of raspberries, with 8 grams fiber. For lunch, a whole-grain English muffin with 3 ounces of turkey breast and 1 ounce of cheese along with an apple would give you over 20 grams of protein and 8 grams of dietary fiber. Cottage cheese, with 14 grams of protein per 1/2 cup, along with a fruit salad is a high-protein and high-fiber snack. A chicken breast with cooked broccoli and whole-grain couscous for dinner can complete a high-fiber, high-protein menu.
A diet that is high in fiber and protein is not automatically healthy. The Harvard School of Public Health warns that some sources of animal protein, such as fatty red meat or full-fat dairy products, are high in unhealthy saturated fat and cholesterol. Iowa State University states eating too much protein can lead to weaker bones and acid-base imbalance in your body. Talk to your doctor about your concerns before starting a diet program for health or weight loss.
Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.