- Four years ago I halved my body fat percentage and have maintained my fat loss ever since.
- My diet varies, but there are staples that I always buy, like sourdough bread and broccoli.
- I include all food groups, eat protein-rich meals, and adjust portion sizes based on my goal.
Four years ago, I cut my body fat percentage by nearly half and lost 35 pounds, and I’ve stayed at about the same body composition ever since.
Strength training, walking, and eating a high-protein diet have helped me maintain my fat loss and build more muscle over the years, and certain foods have become staples in my grocery cart.
I know there are no fattening foods per se, and so if and when my weight fluctuates a bit and I want to lose a few pounds of fat, I just change my portion sizes instead of cutting out food groups.
However, I always keep my protein intake high because it helps your muscles recover after workouts, is filling so keeps you full and helps you retain muscle while losing fat when in a calorie deficit.
My diet isn’t “perfect” – I follow the 80/20 principle of trying to make nutritious food choices 80% of the time and eating whatever I want the rest of the time, including donuts, pizza and biscuits.
I have lots of high protein recipes and staple meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and snacks that I cook and eat all the time.
Whether I’m trying to build muscle, maintain weight, or lose fat, these are 13 foods I always keep in my kitchen.
1. Greek yogurt
I eat so much fat-free Greek yogurt (or other naturally high-protein dairy products like Icelandic skyr or British yogurt) that it’s become a joke in my family.
I love its thick, creamy texture, tangy taste, and versatility. Not only do I use it in smoothies, overnight oats, and eat it with honey, fruit, and granola, but I sometimes replace it with sour cream in savory dishes. It is packed with protein and allows you to eat a large volume of food while cutting calories.
“Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and once you choose a variety with no added sugar, it’s low in sugar and will keep you full and satisfied,” performance nutritionist Daniel Davey told Insider. “Ideal to add to fruit as a balanced snack.”
I eat oats in one form or another most mornings, whether it’s protein oats, overnight oats, or cooked oats. I also sometimes use them in pancakes and baked goods like pancakes or banana bread.
“Oats contain both soluble and insoluble fiber which is vital for a healthy digestive system,” Davey says. “Oats are a slow-digesting carbohydrate food that will keep you feeling full longer.”
I love bananas, whether they’re sliced over peanut butter on a bagel or toast, mashed in oats, baked with a chocolate topping, or frozen then tossed into creamy smoothies.
“Bananas are a great source of energy before or after exercise, great for smoothies and to add to toast for a recovery snack,” Davey says. “They also contain potassium which is an essential mineral for nerve function, regulation of blood pressure and heart rate.”
4. Chicken breasts
Some people find chicken boring, but when cooked well, I think it’s delicious. I use chicken in fajitas, curries, sandwiches, stews, etc.
“Chicken breasts are high in protein, helping the body grow and repair itself, so especially beneficial in meals after strenuous exercise,” Davey says.
5. Ground turkey
Turkey is a leaner alternative to beef and delicious on its own. I like to cook mine with Mexican spices or make a chili and serve it with rice and vegetables.
“Ground turkey is low carb and high in protein, perfect for hitting protein targets or mixing up your protein sources,” Davey says.
Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables and I add it to most meals (I accept that is weird). It’s also relatively high in protein for a green vegetable, providing four grams per 100-gram serving.
“Broccoli contains vitamin C which is good for the immune system,” Davey said. “It helps the body make specialized immune cells to fight infections.”
I love scrambled eggs, omelettes and frittatas and often add cheese and veggies for extra flavor and nutrients. Cheesy scrambled eggs with sourdough toast topped with avocado is one of my lunch staples.
“Eggs are a source of protein and vitamin D, needed to absorb calcium for strong bones and teeth,” Davey says.
8. Sourdough Bread
Whether it’s under the avocado and eggs, grilled and topped with peanut butter and banana, or holding a chicken sandwich together, I love the flavor of sourdough and the fact that it’s good for my gut too .
“Sourdough bread is a great source of energy and may also support a healthy gut due to the presence of lactic acid, which is used in the bread-making process,” Davey said.
Cheddar cheese is delicious on a bowl of Mexican-spiced chicken and vegetables, in scrambled eggs or an omelette, melted on a baked potato with baked beans, or tossed into pasta. If I try to eat with a calorie deficit, I watch my portion sizes or buy a reduced-fat version.
“Cheddar cheese is a good source of protein and a rich source of calcium, a mineral essential for bone health and muscle contraction,” Davey said.
10. Frozen berries
Frozen berries are much cheaper than fresh, just as nutritious, and you don’t have to worry about them spoiling. I make them into smoothies or let them thaw on my overnight oats.
“Frozen berries are a great source of antioxidants and fiber. Great over oats overnight or in a smoothie,” Davey says.
11. Peanut butter
Peanut butter is high in calories, but it’s also filling. I often add it to my rolled oats or overnight oats, and it keeps me fuller than when I don’t. I keep an eye on my portion sizes when trying to stick to a calorie deficit, but I love peanut butter and eat it with everything from bagels to curries.
“Peanut butter contains polyunsaturated fats, helping the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins,” Davey said. “It works great on toast or added to porridge in the morning.”
Avocados are also high in calories but nutrient dense and delicious. I eat them with eggs and toast, in a chicken sandwich, in salads, and in fajitas.
“Avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats that are vital for optimal health,” Davey says. “Avocados are also a good source of magnesium.”
13. Brown rice
I usually buy brown rice over white rice because it releases energy more slowly and has more fiber, and I like the flavor. I eat rice with curries, chilies, salads and more.
“Brown rice is an excellent source of slow-digesting carbohydrates and a good source of fiber, which is digested slowly in the body for sustained energy levels,” Davey says.
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