When following a low-carb diet, protein and fat are usually reign supreme. This makes for some pretty filling meals. However, when you’re tired of steak, eggs, and chicken, it’s important to remember that protein comes in all shapes and sizes. Most people think of animal protein when considering this meaty macro. But when it’s time for a change, you can look to these surprising proteins to liven things up.


Cheese is one of our favorite foods. It’s ooey, gooey, melty, and is a great source of fat and protein, making it ideal for low-carb eating. It’s also packed with vitamins A and B-12, as well as zinc. In fact, recent studies have suggested that cheese may even help combat issues like obesity, heart disease, and inflammation.

Cheeses like parmesan, ricotta, goat cheese, or mozzarella all have between 10-20% of your daily protein requirements per oz. Couple this with all of the aforementioned health benefits and you’ve got more than enough reason to snack on a little extra cheesy goodness. So go ahead, cut another wedge!


If you’re looking for a perfect bite of fatty protein, look no further than the mighty avocado. Avocado is high in vitamins K, E, B5, and B6, not to mention potassium (yes, even more than bananas) and folate. A whole avocado is only about 160 calories and 2 grams of protein making it the perfect snack or compliment to most meals.

And have we mentioned how versatile avocados are? These green machines can stand alone with just a little salt, are a wonderful dip or spread for other veggies, or can even add some creamy nutrition to chocolate shakes or smoothies. Grab your favorite spoon and dig in!

Nut Butters

A trip down the grocery aisle these days and you’ll find more than just peanut butter on the shelf. Within the last several years, nut butter of various kinds has become very popular. From cashew to almond, and even hazelnut there are several nut butters that are higher protein than peanut butter and better for you. Cashew butter and almond butter are fatty and pack a pretty good protein punch per tablespoon, at 3.4 and 2.8 grams respectively.

They’re also a good alternative for people who suffer from peanut allergies that still want to enjoy a little nutty nutrition on some low-carb toast, some apples, or straight off of the spoon.


If you’ve been looking for alternative sources of protein you may have come across spirulina. If you haven’t discovered it yet, Spirulina is a green-blue alga that has been eaten for thousands of years. Within the last decade, it has made its way back into the spotlight.

Spirulina is wildly nutritious as a single teaspoon of spirulina powder boasts 4 grams of protein, along with vitamin B1, B2, B3, iron, and copper. It’s a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in addition to protecting your body from the “bad” type of cholesterol. Spirulina can be mixed into water or added to other foods like smoothies, juice, or even baked into some chocolate sweet treats.


Seeds are part of most balanced diets. They’re high in protein, low calorie, high in fiber, and contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that can sometimes be missed in the standard American diet.

Popular seeds include:

  • Flaxseed – A single ounce of ground flaxseed contains 5.2g of protein, and is great mixed into salads or blended into smoothies.
  • Chia Seeds – Brimming with magnesium and manganese, many low-carbers make a meal out of chia seed as a substitute for oatmeal, or as a stir-in for other foods. An ounce of chia seeds contains around 4.4 grams of protein and aids strongly in digestion.
  • Hemp Seeds – Hemp seeds are a whopping 30% protein and contain amino acids that your body can’t create on its own. Good for your skin and for your immune system, hemp adds a unique crunch to crackers, flat breads, salads, and smoothies.


Even though we usually lump artichokes into the vegetable category, these spiney but delicious plants are actually thistles. Popular in Mediterranean cooking, artichokes have been eaten for centuries and contain about 4.2g of protein in one whole bud. By in large, we see artichoke hearts used mostly as a pizza topping or salad mix in, but you can eat more of an artichoke than just the heart. Low calorie, fairly low carb, high in fiber, and filling, we recommend steaming, roasting, or grilling artichokes and serving them with a side of zesty homemade aioli to truly appreciate this prickly protein.

Portobello Mushrooms

If you’re hoping to cut back on the meat a little, portobello mushrooms are a great substitute for hearty proteins like beef. Aside from being an excellent protein substitute, portobello mushrooms help boost immune function, and may even have cancer-fighting properties. Packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients, portobello mushrooms make for a delicious meal all on their own, or as a topping for other foods. Some low-carbers even use these fancy fungi as burger buns, roasted and seasoned to perfection.

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