- Four years ago I cut my body fat percentage in half and have maintained my fat loss since.
- My diet varies but there are staple foods that I always buy, like sourdough bread and broccoli.
- I include all food groups, eat high-protein meals, and adjust portion size depending on my goal.
Four years ago, I cut my body fat percentage almost in half and lost 35 pounds, and I’ve stayed around the same body composition 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 that there are no inherently fattening foods, and so if and when my weight fluctuates up a little and I want to drop a couple of pounds of fat, I simply alter my portion sizes instead of cutting out any food groups.
I always keep my protein intake high though, as it helps your muscles recover from workouts, is satiating so keeps you full, and helps you hold on to muscle while losing fat in a calorie deficit.
My diet isn’t “perfect” — I follow the 80/20 principle of trying to make nourishing food choices 80% of the time and eating whatever I want the rest of the time, including donuts, pizza, and cookies.
I have lots of staple high protein recipes and meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and snacks that I cook and eat all the time.
Whether I’m trying to build muscle, maintain my 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 kerned yogurt) that it’s become something of a joke in my family.
I love the thick, creamy texture, the tangy taste, and its versatility — Not only do I use it in smoothies, overnight oats, and eat it with honey, fruit, and granola, I sometimes substitute it for sour cream in savory dishes. It’s packed full of protein and allows you to eat a large volume of food while keeping calories down.
“Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and once you choose a no added sugar variety, it’s low in sugar and will keep you full and satisfied,” performance nutritionist Daniel Davey told Insider. “Great to add to fruit as a balanced snack.”
I eat oats in some form most mornings, whether as protein oatmeal, overnight oats, or baked oats. I also sometimes use them in pancakes and baked goods like flapjacks or banana bread.
“Oats contain soluble and insoluble fiber which is vital for a healthy digestive system,” Davey said. “Oats are a slow-digesting carbohydrate food which will keep you feeling fuller for longer.”
I love bananas, whether sliced on top of peanut butter on a bagel or toast, mashed into oats, baked in the oven with a chocolate filling, or frozen then blended into creamy smoothies.
“Bananas are a great source of energy for before or after exercise, ideal for smoothies, and to add to toast for a recovery snack,” Davey said. “They also contain potassium which is an essential mineral for nerve function, regulating 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, and more.
“Chicken breasts are high in protein, helping the body with growth and repair, so particularly beneficial in meals after intense exercise,” Davey said.
5. Ground turkey
Turkey is a leaner alternative to beef and delicious in its own right. I like cooking mine with Mexican spices or making a chilli and serving it with rice and veggies.
“Ground turkey is low in carbohydrates and high in protein, perfect for hitting protein targets or mixing up your protein sources,” Davey said.
Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables and I add it to most meals (I accept this is strange). 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 infection.”
I love scrambled eggs, omelettes, and frittatas and often add cheese and veggies for more flavor and nutrients. Cheesy scrambled eggs with sourdough toast topped with avocado is one of my staple lunches.
“Eggs are a source of protein and also vitamin D, needed to absorb calcium for strong bones and teeth,” Davey said.
8. Sourdough bread
Whether under avocado and eggs, toasted 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 presence of lactic acid, used in the bread-making process,” Davey said.
9. Cheddar cheese
Cheddar cheese is delicious atop a Mexican-spiced chicken and vegetable bowl, in scrambled eggs or an omelette, melted on top of a baked potato with baked pasta beans, or mixed into. If I’m trying to eat in a calorie deficit, I keep an eye on my portion size or buy a reduced fat version.
“Cheddar cheese is a good source of protein and rich source of calcium, an essential mineral 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 going bad. I whizz them into smoothies or let them defrost on my overnight oats.
“Frozen berries are a great source of antioxidants and fiber. Ideal on top of overnight oats or in a smoothie,” Davey said.
11. Peanut butter
Peanut butter is calorie-dense, but it’s also satiating. I often add it to my oatmeal or overnight oats, and it keeps me fuller than when I don’t. I keep an eye on my portion size when I’m trying to stick to a calorie deficit, but I absolutely love peanut butter and eat it with everything from bagels to curries.
“Peanut butter contains polyunsaturated fat, helping the body to absorb fat soluble vitamins,” Davey said. “It works great on toast or added to porridge in the mornings.”
Avocados are also calorific but packed with nutrients — and delicious. I eat them with eggs and toast, in a sandwich with chicken, in salads, and in fajitas.
“Avocados are a great source of healthy fats which are vital for optimum health,” Davey said. “Avocados also are a good source of magnesium.”
13. Brown rice
I usually buy brown rice over white as it releases energy more slowly and contains more fiber, plus I like the flavor. I eat rice with curries, chillis, salads, and more.
“Brown rice is a great source of slow digesting carbohydrate and is a good source of fiber, which slowly digests in the body for sustained energy levels,” Davey said.