Your body needs both protein and lipids -- or fats -- for proper function, and many foods are rich in both of these nutrients. If you're reducing carbohydrate intake, you'll naturally consume more fat and protein, so these items can help you stick to your goals. That said, your diet should represent all food groups for balanced nutrition, so include healthy carb sources in your meal plan in addition to these foods.
Nuts are rich in protein and also contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are linked to healthy cholesterol levels and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Walnuts, for example, contain more than 4 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat per ounce, while the same serving of almonds contains 6 grams of protein and more than 14 grams of fat. Other nut options include pistachios, cashews and pecans.
Fish is rich in protein, and many types also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. This essential type of fat promotes healthy blood clotting and may help protect against heart disease and stroke. For reference, each 3-ounce serving of cooked sockeye salmon contains nearly 22 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat, while 3 ounces of Atlantic mackerel contains about 20 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat. Other fatty fish include herring, sardines and albacore tuna.
Most farm-animal foods, such as beef, skin-on poultry, eggs and cheese, are rich in both protein and fat. However, these products are typically high in saturated fat, which is linked to heart attack and stroke. Therefore, you should limit these in your diet, and get most of your fat and protein from fish and plant foods instead. For reference, a 1/4-pound hamburger patty of 80 percent lean meat contains about 20 grams of protein and 13 grams of fat, an ounce of cheddar cheese contains about 7 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat, and a large fresh egg has about 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat.
Along with protein and fat, you should also include healthy carbohydrate sources such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends getting 45 to 65 percent of total calories from carbs, 10 to 35 percent of calories from protein and 20 to 35 percent of calories from fat. Carbs and protein each contain 4 calories per gram, while fat contains 9 calories per gram. Therefore, you should get 225 to 325 grams of carbs, 50 to 175 grams of protein and 44 to 78 grams of fat each day.
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Walnuts, English
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Almonds
- Harvard School of Public Health: Ask the Expert: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Fish, Salmon, Sockeye, Cooked
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Fish, Mackerel, Atlantic, Cooked
- American Heart Association: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Beef, Ground, 80% Lean Meat
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cheese, Cheddar
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Egg, Whole, Raw, Fresh
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans