What are low fat protein foods?
I guess you have wondered! How can I safely reduce dietary fats and increase protein intake? How can I safely get proteins in a low fat diet? Which foods are low fat but still have high quality protein? And I hope and promise to answer all these questions and give you solutions!
To do that, we must first understand a few facts!
We must know that, all clinical specialities have agreed that the fat content of an average diet should be low. This reduces the risks associated with high dietary fat consumption. And these risks include development of chronic diseases and poor health. Let me explain how everything works.
So, what is a low fat diet?
In a low fat diet, only 30% or less of the dietary calories must come from fats. And as a rule any food that gives 100 calories with less than 3 g of fat, is a low fat food. So,it then becomes easier to define low fat protein foods.
In this case, low fat protein foods are protein rich foods that have a low dietary fat content. We can say, they are protein rich low fat foods.
Here are some of the low fat protein foods we will look at:
- Low fat meat cuts
- Egg white
- Soy protein
Are dietary fats bad for health?
This is a tricky question with an answer that may confuse the general public. Why? Because there is a lot of conflicting and confusing information on the topic. However, let’s explain it like this.
Dietary fats are an essential component of health. This means that we need dietary fats as a macronutrient. However, we must understand that, not all fats are good. And not all are bad either. Sure, intake of unhealthy fats needs to be reduced. But, it must be understood that reducing intake of health fats can cause serious health consequences.
As explain in the article on the link above, polyunsaturated fats an monounsaturated fats are healthy. These are critical for human health to function of optimally. However, saturated and trans have been implicated as culprits in the development of several chronic diseases. Therefore, naturally we should limit their consumption.
Also, all fats contribute more dietary calories per gram than carbohydrates and proteins. What does this mean?
This means both unhealthy and healthy fats can still make you fat! Therefore, even healthy fats must be consumed in balanced diets. And they must be eaten within recommended values. So for weight management and weight watchers low fat protein foods are a good thing.
This fear of gaining body fat and weight from fat foods has led to the wrongful malignment of all fats. Because people look at all fats as bad for health. As a result, they start making dietary mistakes through trying to avoid all forms of dietary fat. In this case they will also deprive themselves of essential fats. Also they will adopt refined and super refined foods instead of fat. These foods will be energy dense. And this results in excess energy in the body. As a result, this energy is converted to the same fat and weight they are trying to avoid! Additionally, these low glycemic index foods will cause post meal blood sugar and insulin spikes. This increases risks of insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus among other chronic diseases.
Why are low fat protein foods important?
According to current dietary recommendations dietary fat intake must be reduced. As said earlier, this reduces chronic disease risks. As a result, saturated fats should only provide 7-10% of the total calories. This saturated fat limit reduces the dietary intake of cholesterol. Since cholesterol usually occurs naturally with saturated fats. This is good for heart health.
Polyunsaturated fats should provide 10% of total calories. And also monounsaturated fats should make up 20% of the total calories. So low fat protein foods can help lower and maintain recommended levels of dietary fat. This then reduces the risks associated with fat consumption. These risks include modifications of blood lipid profiles. Which can lead to serious heart healthy problems.
Hence a low fat diet has been advocated for by various clinicians as a means to reduce cardiovascular risks. Sounds awesome, right?
Except, these recommendations have been misinterpreted. And they have resulted in the portrayal of fats in a bad light. And as a result, people have made dietary mistakes that lead to the same dangers posed by fats, as explained earlier. But also companies have abused these recommendations to push for profitable marketing agendas.
Manipulations of low fat foods for profit
Food manufacturing companies and big pharma have abused promotion of low fat diets to further profitable agendas. They have laid sales traps and hidden them behind healthy food notions. They have created so called healthy low fat and heart healthy foods. And the unsuspecting customers eager for healthy foods are easily lured into buying these fake healthy foods. But, how do they do it?
It’s simple, the companies produce low fat foods in truth. And they label these foods as heart healthy and low fat. Which is good right?
Except these foods are no better than the high fat foods. Why?
Fake heart healthy foods
Because they have replaced the fats with carbohydrates. Nothing, literally wrong with that. Except these foods are highly refined, energy dense and have a high glycemic index. It is these refined carbohydrates that cause serious problems.
- They are energy dense and have a low satieting effect. This means you need more to fill full, and you will have more excess energy in the body. This energy is converted to body fat. Which results in weight and fat gain. The same problems you dumped fatty foods for!
- The body fat and weight you gain eventually leads to obesity. Obesity then increases risks of cardiovascular healthy, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
- These refined carbohydrates have a high glycemic index. This means they are easily digested and absorbed in the gut. Which is not desirable. Because this increases post meal glucose and insulin levels. And both factors fuel insulin resistance and diabetes development.
So these super refined foods are not help at all. Falling into this trap will put you into the same risks that you dumped fats for, if not more!
Low fat protein foods also help in safe mass gain and muscle mass development.
Why balanced diets and dietary fat recommendations are important
It is recommended that, people consume balanced diets following dietary recommendations for fat intake instead. That way, they can still consume healthy essential fats. Personally, I put whole foods above every other food. Because with whole foods, I actually know what I am eating.
Low fat protein rich foods are essential because most high quality protein sources are also fat rich. These include fatty meat cuts like chicken skin, and pork chops and milk. So, these foods offer adequate protein whilst reducing overall dietary fat intake.
Before we jump into our main content, lets clarify one thing. We need to understand that no single foods can provide health benefits alone. Different food items provide different nutrients. These nutrients work together to sustain the body and help improve health.
Low fat protein foods list
There different fish types and all these fish come from different sources. Fish are a high quality protein source. They have negligent carbohydrate quantities. Some fish are lean, which means they have very low fat content. However, others are rich in healthy fats.
Fish can be classified into fatty, medium fatty and lean fish. Fatty fish contain more than 8 g fatty per 100 g. Medium fish contain between 2-8 g fat per 100g of fish. And lean fish contain less than 2 g of fat.
Sources of omega fatty acids
Fatty fish are rich in the omega 3 fatty acids docosahexanoic acid and eicosapentanoic acid. Even though eating fatty fish can actually give you some more calories, omega fatty acids actually have improve your body fat profiles. Additionally, they have protective effects against cardiovascular disease. So, if you are to eat low fat protein foods, better take the ones that can improve your overall health. In fact, the highest fatty content of fish I found was 12.9 g/100 g. It can be more, but fish still have a lower fat content than other high quality protein sources. Fatty fish are also rich in vitamin D.
However, if you are seriously watching your weight you can still eat lean fish. These have very low fat content and negligent calorific values. These are also richer in taurine and iodine than fatty fish. Lean fish like pollock, cod, sarthe and scallops improve post meal blood lipid levels. They do this better than most non fish proteins.
Fish are a source of beneficial health compounds
Fish consumption gives a protective effect against several health problems. This includes protection against metabolic syndrome. Fish are also good sources of the antioxidant selenium. They also critical iodine sources.
So, in short, healthy fish can provide excellent high quality protein for you. This is because they have a unique combination of high quality protein. They also offer high satiety levels in meals. This means they can help prevent overeating. They are high quality protein sources, which means they provide essential amino acids. An they also have lower fat content than meat. Fish can be a meat replacement in the diet? Many studies also show that, fish are more effective than egg and turkey in reducing appetite.
And that is not all! Because fish proteins have beneficial effects on lipid profiles in the body. And fish proteins also improve insulin sensitivity.
Fish also contain taurine. Taurine improves blood lipid profiles and therefore reduces cardiovascular risks. This compound is also important bile acid formation. And bile acids are the body’s main method of breaking down cholesterol.
So, yeah! I wouldn’t leave fish on a low fat protein food list.
2. High protein low fat vegetables
If you really want a low fat protein diet then vegetables are good for you. Whilst vegetables are not as protein rich as other foods, they are healthier and cleaner protein sources. In addition, vegetables have negligent fat content. Which is good for you, because you have few worries about fat related health risks.
Also read: Reasons why vegetables are good for you!
In a 2019 study, it was discovered that vegetable proteins improves physical activity performance. Yes, vegetable based proteins not meat! This is a direct contradiction to what most fitness enthusiasts believe. And they shun plant based proteins believing animal based ones are superior!
Also, Japanese women were shown to have low muscle tissue decline in their later years of life. And this has been attributed to consumption of green and yellow vegetables.
Benefits of vegetable protein
There are many benefits of vegetable proteins. Being low fat protein sources with massive health benefits makes them a special type of food.
Vegetable proteins can help reduce risks of non alcoholic fatty liver disease. They also reduce cardiovascular risks which are more attributed to dietary fat intake.
It’s very easy to dismiss vegetable based proteins. This because they are termed poor or incomplete proteins due to not having complete essential amino acids. Vegetables usually lack the essential amino acids methionine, cysteine, lysine and cysteine. However, varying the type of vegetables you consume provides the missing amino acids. And if the diet is properly balanced, this won’t be a serious problem.
Poor vegetable protein diet may cause you protein deficiency
However, not everything is so well with vegetable proteins. As a result, extra care must be taken to prevent protein deficiency. Especially protein energy malnutrition. Why?
Because bioavailability of vegetable proteins is low. This is due to their high dietary fibre which partly interferes with protein digestion. It may also be due to various antinutrients in vegetables. And these may prevent amino acid absorption.
However, vegetables are a low fat protein food. Sticking to vegetarian diets reduces dietary fat intake. And it also increases percentage yielded from proteins. As a result they are excellent sources of proteins for obese or overweight individuals. And also for those individuals trying to shade weight. This is because they can allow burning of body fat. Because with vegetables, its easier to create energy deficit. As excellent, vegetables can be low fat protein foods for weight and fat loss diets.
To prevent, protein deficiency vegetables must be supplemented with other low fat protein foods.
3. Lentils- Are they low fat protein foods?
Lentils are made up of about 25% protein. Therefore, they are good alternative to meat as protein source. What makes them better is their low fat content.
Lentils low fat sources of dietary plant based proteins. Green, black, tan, brown, gray and white lentils are consumed around the world. Also, lentils are a quick cooking protein source which is convenient to the consumer.
The lens shaped protein sources are a good source of plant based protein. They are also good sources of dietary fibre which helps of bowel movements. Also, lentils are great sources of complex carbohydrates, iron and magnesium. And they are also rich in bioactive compounds that are beneficial to health. This gives the good antioxidant properties among other things. In addition they have a very low fat content. This reduces many of the risks associated with dietary fat intake. It also makes it on of the best protein sources for low fat diets.
Lentils are also good sources of prebiotics. And prebiotics are good for gut health. And all the properties of lentils have been shown to reduce disease risks. The rich phytochemical profiles of lentils have also been show to reduce disease risks.
With all this, there is no doubt lentils are one of the best low fat protein foods out there.
The only drawback is that they maybe a little bit costly for low income households.
Like lentils, beans are a low cost healthy protein source. Beans consumption lowers blood cholesterol levels. It also improves blood lipid levels. This is attributed to their low fat content.
Beans are an excellent protein source for low income families. This means even the poor can take low fat diets without compromising their dietary protein sources.
Also beans has s high price to nutrient ration than most foods. This means, you can still eat healthy protein even on a limited budget. And therefore you can maximise protein intake under low income conditions.
The low fat content of beans gives them many healthy benefits. These include:
- Reduce cardiovascular disease risks
- Improve blood lipid and cholesterol profiles
- Helps in post meal blood glucose control
- Reduce risks of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
- Protects against some forms of cancer
- Offers a rich source of protein and dietary fibre content
Unlike lentils, beans are a much cheaper protein source. They are an excellent low fat protein food.
Like many pulses we cannot eliminate peas from the low fat protein foods list. Peas have a lot of beneficial healthy effects. Therefore, they qualify as healthy foods which can be adopted into any diet. These healthy benefits are linked to peas’ low fat content. And also it’s rich protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemical profiles.
Like beans and lentils, peas have a high protein content. Their crude protein content is 21-32.9%. This makes them one of the best plant based protein sources. However, they also lack some essential amino acids like many legumes. They are low in the amino acids, glutamic acid and cysteine. And they are also deficient in methionine.
Note that: All pulses and legumes, including beans, lentils, peas, and nuts are low in some of the essential amino acids. However, these amino acids are abundant in whole grains. Whilst whole grains also lack the amino acid lysine. And pulses have a lysine rich protein. So, eating a balanced plant diet that includes both pulses and whole grains can improve essential amino acid intake.
Benefits of peas as a low fat protein source.
As I have been explaining, the low fat content is good for you. It gives you another low fat protein source alternative. In addition to that, peas are also rich in dietary fibre. They have a high dietary fibre on the seed coat and cotyledon walls. These can help improve your gut health. The dietary fibre also limits the digestibility of pea starch. And as a result, peas have a limited contribution to your daily calories. This also makes peas a low glycemic index food. Which means, they have minimal effect on post meal glucose levels. And this has many healthy benefits.
All this makes peas a low fat protein food that is good for weigh loss and weight management diets.
Peas have an advantage of being inexpensive. Which makes them an easily accessible protein source. And makes it easily accessible to low income families.
Reduce risks of all problems posed by intake of high fat protein foods like meat. Also, peas are rich in other bioactive compounds. Which include complex carbohydrates. These also contribute to post meal blood glucose level reduction.
All in all, peas are a good alternative protein source. That is if you need to reduce fat intake without limiting healthy protein intake.
6. Seafood as low fat protein foods
Various sources have described seafood as superior protein sources. This is because seafood is a high quality protein source. And this food contains essential amino acids. Seafood protein is highly digestible. This means most of the consumed protein can be absorbed by the body. Also, seafood protein has high amino acid scores. This makes it a high quality protein. Because some of these amino acid scores are higher than in some meats!
The role of seafood protein and phytochemicals
Seafood protein had been shown to have beneficial effects against blood cholesterol levels. This is because, these proteins enhance cholesterol breakdown in the liver. The protein also provides bioactive peptides which have several benefits.
The bioactive compounds in seafood have also been shown to have antiobesity and antihypertensive properties. Also they reduce risks of blood clotting.
In addition to an exquisite protein content seafood is also reach in healthful fats. Whose benefits I have explained in several articles:
Seafood have a unique combination of proteins and bioactive compounds that have several health benefits. This
makes seafood healthy low fat protein foods.
7. Low fat dairy
Milk is a highly nutritious food. It carries many different nutrients that are essential for human health. However, a lot of the current dietary recommendations have always called for reduced intake of whole milk. This is done to limit dietary fat intake. As it is known that whole milk is rich in saturated fat. And this milk fat is believed to be produce the detrimental effects of dietary fat intake. Therefore, low fat dairy foods can be excellent low fat protein foods. Why?
Its, simple! Because all the fat has been removed. And if there is no fat in the milk, then you cannot suffer any dietary fat consumption effects!
But, is this all? Is it all this simple? Of course not!
Here is the reason why it’s not all about removing fat.
Some studies have come up opposing the motion? Confusing, right?
So recently, no scientific evidence have proven that milk fat is harmful to health. With some studies, showing that milk fact can actually have beneficial effects to health. These include reduction of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular risks. These benefits have been attributed to unusual fatty acids found in milk fat.
So, what I think is that; when you remove fat from milk, you are also removing a lot of other nutrients. In addition, you must also understand that milk fat is high in saturated fats. However, you must only depend on low fat milk products if you are strictly cutting dietary fat.
Use a balanced diet
However, I would recommend a balanced diet instead. It will allow you to even consume the correct quantities of whole milk. This will allow you to enjoy the protein source whilst preventing overconsumption of saturated fats. Why? Because, trying to consume some of these over processed low fat milk products may can actually increase your sugar intake unknowingly. Which makes everything worse.
Let me summarize it like this.
Even though, there is no scientific evidence to support the harm caused by milk fats. Lets, not forget these crucial points:
- Milk fat is still fat, which means the calories are still there.
- This also means, uncontrollable chugging of whole milk and milk products can get you fat!
- Which means overconsumption of milk and milk can result in weight gain.
So, if you really wish to cut down on your fat intake. You can incorporate low fat milk products as low fat protein sources into you diet. And make sure its a balanced diet!
8. Egg white
Eggs are a highly nutritious food. Some actually call them complete foods. And they are good for all age groups. Recent studies hav also shown that eggs may contain unexplored bioactive compounds. These are suspected to have disease curing and prevention properties.
Egg white is an excellent protein source. And it is also a low fat protein food. It has a very low to non fat content. Egg white also provides a high quality protein which is highly digestible. However, a small amount of this protein is not easily digested. The partially digested egg white proteins produce bioactive dipeptides. And these have been shown to have neutraceutical properties. Also, several of these compounds have anticancer, antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
Also read the neutraceutical section in: Reasons why vegetables are good for you!
Egg protein is divided equally between the yolk and egg white. Vitamins, minerals and lipids are concentrated in the yolk. So depending on egg white will short change you of the other nutrients. Egg white has about 10.9% of highly concentrated protein. And the rest is mainly water.
So, why do you need to exclude the yolk?
All egg lipids are in the yolk. And egg yolk contains 68% LDL cholesterol and 16% HDL cholesterol. This is what makes egg yolk bad. So consuming egg white can help improve your blood lipid profiles. However, you must understand that egg white is rich in protein and low in everything else.
Care must be taken when consuming egg white protein. It is an excellent protein, but it is not for those with egg protein allergies. However, if you want a healthy low fat protein food, egg white is one of the best.
8. Soy protein
Soy proteins can help sustain your protein needs. And provide you with healthy lean protein. Soy protein is also cholesterol and lactose free. It is available in many different forms. This includes in the form of traditional soy protein foods. Examples are soy milk, tempeh, tofu, kori-tofu, sufu, soy sauce and natto.
Consumption of soy proteins is however limited by the off flavours they may produce.
Other low fat protein foods include whole grain cereals and their products.
Other healthful low fat protein foods include whole grains and low fat meat cuts.
Low fat protein foods can help you reduce your dietary fat intake. You just have to make sure that in cutting dietary fat, you replace it with whole foods. This will reduce the risks pose by dietary fats and refined carbohydrate consumption.