Striving for Six-Pack Abs? Try These High-Protein, Low-Fat Foods

When your goal is to burn fat, build muscle, and get shredded for summer, you might be wondering which foods help you achieve the physique you desire. High-protein, low-fat foods can help you get shredded for the summer months ahead, but eating a well-balanced diet is the key to six-pack success.

How Much Protein, Fat, and Carbs Should I Eat?

Increasing protein helps boost satiety, burn fat, and maintain muscle during periods of calorie restriction.

But while reducing dietary fat helps control calories for weight loss, heart-healthy fats (plant fats and fish oils) are nutritious for you and part of a healthy eating plan.

Your body needs dietary fat to function properly. A good rule of thumb is to eat:

  • protein molecule high protein low fat foodsAbout 1 gram of protein per pound of your desirable body weight daily, or 30-35% of your calories from protein
  • 20-25% of your calories from dietary fat
  • 40-45% of your calories from carbohydrates

Studies show that while low-carb diets help reduce body weight and fat, low-fat diets can be just as effective (even more so in some cases) for fat burning.

The Institute of Medicine recommends adults consume at least 20% of their daily calories from dietary fat.

Carbohydrates and protein each contain 4 calories per gram and fat provides 9 calories per gram. Therefore, aim for at least 40 grams of fat daily when following an 1,800-calorie weight loss plan and at least 51 grams when consuming 2,300 calories per day.

How Many Calories Should I Consume for Fat Loss?

To melt away excess body fat, simply burn more calories during workouts or lower your energy intake by about 500 calories daily. For many men, eating about 1,800 calories per day should do the trick.

If you’re very active, you might need extra calories to lose about 1/2 to 1 pound of body fat each week.

Use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Composition Database or a calorie counting app, such as MyFitnessPal or Lose It!, to track how much you're eating.

Examples of High-Protein, Low-Fat Foods

The following foods are high in protein and low in dietary fat, which makes them excellent additions to weight loss, fat loss, or muscle-building meal plans:

Beef, Poultry, Fish, & Seafood

#1 Grilled Chicken Breast

  • chicken breast high protein low fat foodsPortion size: 3 ounces
  • Calories:126
  • Protein: 25 grams
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

#2 Baked Turkey Breast

  • Portion size: 3 ounces
  • Calories:125
  • Protein: 26 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

#3 Very Lean Ground Turkey

  • Portion size: 4 ounces
  • Calories:120
  • Protein: 27 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

#4 Lean Steak

  • steak with tomatoes best weight loss program for menPortion size: 3 ounces
  • Calories:151
  • Protein: 24 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

#5 Pork Tenderloin

  • Portion size: 3 ounces
  • Calories: 159
  • Protein: 26 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

#6 Shrimp

  • seafood shrimp high protein low fat foodsPortion size: 3 ounces
  • Calories: 84
  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

#7 Catfish

  • Portion size: 3 ounces
  • Calories: 89
  • Protein: 16 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

#8 Cod

  • Portion size: 3 ounces
  • Calories: 89
  • Protein: 19 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

#9 Tuna

  • grilled tuna weight loss mealsPortion size: 3 ounces
  • Calories: 109
  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

#10 Scallops

  • Portion size: 3 ounces
  • Calories: 94
  • Protein: 17 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 4 grams

#11 Oysters

  • Portion size: 3 ounces
  • Calories: 139
  • Protein: 16 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 8 grams

#12 Uncured Turkey Bacon

  • Portion size: 2 slices
  • Calories: 90
  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

Eggs and Dairy foods

#1 Egg Whites

  • free range eggs muscle building foodsPortion size: 4 large egg whites
  • Calories: 69
  • Protein: 14 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram

#2 Skim Milk

  • Portion size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 83
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 12 grams

#3 Protein-Fortified Skim Milk

  • Portion size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 101
  • Protein: 10 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 14 grams

#4 Protein-Fortified Almond Milk

  • Portion size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 80
  • Protein: 10 grams
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 3 grams

#5 Low-Fat Cottage Cheese

  • Portion size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 81
  • Protein: 14 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 3 grams

#6 Nonfat Greek Yogurt

  • yogurt high protein low fat foodsPortion size: 1 container
  • Calories: 100
  • Protein: 17 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 6 grams

#7 Plain Low-Fat Kefir

  • Portion size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 104
  • Protein: 9 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 12 grams

#8 Whey Protein Powder

  • Portion size: 1/3 cup
  • Calories: 113
  • Protein: 25 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 2 grams

#9 Reduced-Fat Cheese

  • Portion size: 1 string cheese stick
  • Calories: 45
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

Vegetables

#1 Green Peas       

  • Portion size: 1/2 cooked cup
  • Calories: 67
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 13 grams

#2 Lentils

  • green peas weight loss protein powder

    Portion size: 1/2 cooked cup

  • Calories: 113
  • Protein: 9 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 20 grams

#3 Chick Peas

  • Portion size: 1/2 cooked cup
  • Calories: 134
  • Protein: 7 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 22 grams

#4 Navy Beans

  • Portion size: 1/2 cooked cup
  • Calories: 127
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 24 grams

#5 Pinto Beans

  • Portion size: 1/2 cooked cup
  • Calories: 122
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 22 grams

#6 Black Beans

  • Portion size: 1/2 cooked cup
  • Calories: 114
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 21 grams

#7 Pea Protein Powder

  • Portion size: 1/4 cup
  • Calories: 100
  • Protein: 21 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 2 grams

#8 Grilled Portabella Mushrooms

  • mushrooms fat burning foods for menPortion size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 35
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 5 grams

Whole Grains

#1 Quinoa

  • Portion size: 1/2 cooked cup
  • Calories: 111
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 20 grams

quinoa heart healthy foods for men

#2 Whole-Wheat Pasta

  • Portion size: 1/2 cooked cup
  • Calories: 220
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 25 grams

#3 Whole-Grain Ezekiel Bread

  • Portion size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 80
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 14 grams

#4 Spelt

  • Portion size: 1/2 cooked cup
  • Calories: 123
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 26 grams

#5 Protein-Fortified, Whole-Grain Breakfast Cereal

  • Portion size: 3/4 cup
  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 10 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 19 grams

Additional Plant Proteins

#1 Seitan

  • seitan heart healthy foods for men

    Portion size: 1/3 cooked cup

  • Calories: 100
  • Protein: 18 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 3 grams

#2 Firm Tofu

  • Portion size: 1/5th block
  • Calories: 95
  • Protein: 10 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 3 grams

#3 Edamame

  • Portion size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 94
  • Protein: 9 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 7 grams

#4 Veggie Burgers

  • Portion size: 1 patty
  • Calories: 124
  • Protein: 11 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 10 grams

Other Healthy Foods to Consider

Other nutritious foods to consider for fat-burning and muscle building that aren’t classified as high-protein, low-fat foods include:

  • pistachios high protein low fat foodsFruits provide natural sugar and fiber,and are low in fat, but aren’t good sources of protein.
  • Nuts and seeds are high in protein but also rich in heart-healthy fats.
  • Avocados, plant oils, and fish oils are excellent sources of nutritious fats.
  • Non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, asparagus, green beans, celery, bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower, are low in calories and fat and rich in fiber but generally aren't good sources of protein.

Choose combinations of these healthy options plus high-protein, low-fat foods to create the perfect fat-loss, muscle-building meal plan for men over 40.

Should I Try Protein Supplements?

Protein supplementation helps increase your protein intake without adding extra calories, and can be beneficial for fat loss and lean mass gains. Protein supplements are available as protein powders, ready-to-drink protein shakes, protein bars, and more.

weight loss shakes for menHowever, use caution with protein supplements as some items contain added sugar and other hidden ingredients.

When choose protein supplements for muscle building and fat loss, opt for those containing at least 10 grams of protein and fewer than 5 grams of added sugar per serving.

Consider homemade weight-loss protein shakes that are loaded with essential nutrients and contain about 300 calories per serving. Use protein shakes as meal replacements to keep calories under control, between meal snacks, or pre- and post-workout fuel.

How to Create Fat-Loss Meal Plans

Now that you have a better idea of which high-protein, low-fat foods help you get shredded for summer, it’s easy to create your own fat-burning, muscle-building menus.

As a rule, fill about 1/2 of each plate with non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 of your plate with low-carb protein foods, and 1/4 of each plate with protein-rich starches. Examples of healthy fat loss menus for men over 40 include:

DAY 1

Breakfast

  • An egg-white omelet with mushrooms, asparagus, and avocados
  • Oatmeal topped with blueberries and walnuts

Snack

Lunch

  • Canned light tuna or grilled chicken pieces mixed with avocado oil mayonnaise on Ezekiel bread
  • A leafy green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, pistachios, and an oil-based dressing

Snack

  • Low-fat cottage cheese with sliced strawberries

Dinner

  • Grilled chicken breast
  • Cooked quinoa
  • Green beans
  • Olive oil

Snack

  • Reduced-fat cheese sticks

DAY 2

Breakfast

  • Cooked uncured turkey bacon
  • Cooked diced potatoes with spinach, olive oil, and seasonings
  • An orange

Snack

Lunch

  • Grilled seitan
  • Cooked brown rice
  • Fresh pea pods dipped in hummus

Snack

  • Low-fat plain Kefir with honeydew melon

Dinner

  • Grilled salmon, catfish, or cod
  • Cooked spelt
  • Asparagus
  • Olive oil

Snack

  • Non-fat plain Greek yogurt

DAY 3

Breakfast

  • Protein-fortified whole-grain cereal
  • Low-fat milk or plant milk
  • Sliced almonds
  • A banana

Snack

Lunch

  • A veggie burger or lean turkey burger topped with sliced tomatoes, greens, and avocados
  • A whole-grain hamburger bun

Snack

  • Pumpkin seeds with fresh cherries

Dinner

  • Cooked whole-grain pasta topped with grilled chicken strips
  • Oil-based pesto sauce
  • Steamed broccoli

Snack

  • Protein-fortified almond milk

Other Fat-Loss Tips and Tricks

Eating right isn't the only healthy component of weight loss, fat loss, and muscle building. Additional lifestyle habits that help you achieve the six-pack abs and chiseled physique you desire include:

#1 Try Fat Burning Workouts

Fat-burning workouts are just as important as eating high-protein, low-fat foods when you desire a leaner, more muscular physique. The Fit Father Project helps you every step of the way by providing you with:

For best results, exercise most days of the week and follow the Fit Father Project's fat-burning workouts specifically designed for men over 40. Most workouts are just 30 minutes, so you can squeeze them into just about any busy schedule.

#2 Give Up Alcohol

Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, which is almost as many calories as dietary fat.

Combining alcohol with sugary mixers and other high-calorie beverages means you might ingest up to 500 calories or more in just a single drink! Giving up alcohol, or only drinking in moderation, can drastically improve your fat-loss results.

#3 Drink 16 cups of Water Each Day

ice water high protein low fat foodsWater can energize you and prevent you from overeating at meal time. Preventing dehydration also means better muscle-building and fat-burning workouts.

Aim for 16 cups of water daily as a rule of thumb. Your individual needs might be more or less depending on your size, body composition, and how much you sweat throughout the day. Drink water when you first wake up each morning and before meals to control your calorie intake.

#4 Track Body Composition Measurements

Weighing yourself daily aids in weight loss but if muscle building is your goal, track body measurements too. Measure your waist circumference regularly, as it should shrink as fat melts away. Aim for a waist circumference of less than 40 inches in men and less than 35 inches around in women.

#5 Set Sleep Goals

Sleep is more important than you might think for muscle building and fat loss. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep in each night helps your body recover after strenuous workouts and controls appetite hormones in your body. To improve sleep quality, sleep in a cool dark room, set a regular sleep schedule, avoid going to bed hungry or very full, and reduce stress as much as you can.

Staying Motivated for Fat Loss

At the Fit Father Project, muscle building and fat burning are the ultimate goals. The Fit Father Project 30X (FF30X) helps busy fathers over 40 shed excess body weight and fat and keep it off for life.

The program offers custom fat-burning meal plans and menus, muscle-building workouts, fat-burning exercise programs, free weekly newsletters, email coaching support, Q & A sessions with health experts, and much more!

With an abundance of workouts at your fingertips, specifically designed by the Fit Father Project for busy men over 40, weight and fat loss won't be boring or difficult.

When you’re ready to break through fat-loss barriers and get on the road toward a happier, healthier life, sign up for FF30X today or take advantage of the Fit Father Project:Fit Father Diet cover image

You’ll finally achieve the six-pack abs and muscular physique you desire just in time for summer! What do you have to lose?

Erin Coleman
Writer, The Fit Father Project

A 15-year freelance writing veteran, Erin is registered dietitian and health educator who is passionate about health, fitness and disease prevention. Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife and mom of two beautiful children.