If you're aiming for weight loss or you want to build muscle, a low-fat, high-protein diet can help. Don't worry if you're not a bodybuilder or a dietitian -- it's easy to build a menu that suits your dietary needs and will keep you on the right track toward reaching your goals. Along with a good breakfast and dinner, a sensible low-fat, high-protein lunch will help you progress and keep you in sound overall health. And the best part is that a menu including high-protein, low-fat food is good for the whole family.
Beans are cheap, flavorful and packed with protein. Paired with a low-fat side or as part of a low-fat entree, they are an excellent lunch option. Try black beans wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla with shredded carrots, purple cabbage, chopped onions and a fat-free dressing for dipping. If you're serving it to your kids, provide plenty of colorful options for stuffing. Or, toss some cooked kidney beans into a finished vegetable stir-fry to shake up the texture and flavor. Don't forget green beans -- pan-fry them briefly in a touch of olive oil and toss into a mixed green salad with a side of whole-wheat toast. Drizzle a little light creamy dressing on top and add a small handful of almonds or sunflower seeds for an extra punch of protein.
Beef is a popular and inexpensive option for high-protein lunches, especially when you choose extra-lean cuts and thoroughly drain the fat. Bunless handmade burgers paired with a summery selection of roasted vegetables brushed with olive oil blended with salad dressing and seasoning powder make for flavorful and filling lunchtime fare. Or, satisfy hungry kids with cheeseburger casserole: bake extra-lean browned ground turkey with shredded fat-free cheese and top it with sliced red onion, lettuce and tomato. A drizzle of organic ranch dressing over each serving adds a kick of flavor. When it's not fried, skinless chicken is a healthy and protein-packed way to start your lunch. Grilled chicken strips over mixed greens makes a quick and easy lunch for your family, as does shredded baked chicken stuffed into whole-wheat pita pockets with chopped raw veggies and fat-free creamy dressing. If you're concerned about oils and fats from cooking, boil your chicken. Serve it over plain whole-wheat pasta flavored with fat-free ranch dressing.
Always choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products to reach your fitness goals. Add 2 percent milk to high-fiber, low-fat cereal with a bowl of fresh berries or enjoy mozzarella string cheese with wheat crackers and unprocessed deli meat for an extra-light lunch. If you're pressed for time, spread low-fat Neufchatel or cream cheese on a whole-wheat bagel and put a few banana or strawberry slices between the bread. If you don't have room on your plate at lunch for cheese or yogurt, wash it down with a glass of skim milk to get an extra dose of protein while keeping your fat intake at rock-bottom.
Eggs are the ideal source of protein, as they contain all of the eight crucial amino acids your body needs. And they're not just for breakfast: a whole-wheat burrito with scrambled egg whites and grilled tofu packs a powerful protein punch at lunchtime. Or, try an egg-white omelet with plenty of chopped veggies and low-fat shredded cheese. If your kids don't feel like eggs for lunch, chop up a couple of boiled eggs and mix them into a salad with their favorite creamy light dressing.