Optavia Protein List: 28 Options for Lean and Green Meals

The Optavia protein list, also referred to as the Optavia lean list, consists of recommended protein sources specifically chosen for lean and green meals for individuals following the Optavia diet. The Optavia protein list, which comprises the Optavia meat list and the Optavia vegetarian (meatless) protein list, categorizes protein sources into lean, leaner, and leanest options, considering variations in fat content.

Each option from the Optavia lean list includes a recommended serving size to provide 25-40 grams of protein, which constitutes one-third of your daily requirements. According to a 2016 study by Guoyao Wu from Texas A&M University, it is suggested that adults need at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. However, if you’re active, increasing your protein intake to 1.0-1.6 grams can support better muscle protein synthesis and strength.

This article provides a list of all 28 Optavia-approved protein options outlined below, and it also explains which protein sources are not allowed on the Optavia diet.

Protein SourceCategoryServing Size
CodLeanest7 oz
FlounderLeanest7 oz
HaddockLeanest7 oz
ShellfishLeanest7 oz
SwordfishLeaner6 oz
TroutLeaner6 oz
HalibutLeaner6 oz
SalmonLean5 oz
Bluefin TunaLean5 oz
MackerelLean5 oz
Game Meat (e.g., deer)Leanest7 oz
Lean Ground Meats (≥98% lean)Leanest7 oz
Turkey (light meat)Leanest7 oz
Chicken BreastLeaner6 oz
Pork ChopsLeaner6 oz
Lean Beef (steak, roast)Lean5 oz
LambLean5 oz
Dark Meat PoultryLean5 oz
Egg WhitesLeanest2 cups
Whole Eggs (with egg whites)Leaner2 whole eggs + 4 egg whites
Liquid Egg SubstituteLeanest2 cups
SeitanLeanest5 oz
Non-fat Greek Yogurt (0%)Leanest12 oz
Cottage Cheese (1%)Leanest12 oz
Tofu (Mori-nu extra firm or firm)Lean15 oz
Reduced-fat CheeseLean4 oz (1 cup shredded)
Ricotta (part-skim)Lean8 oz (1 cup)
TempehLean5 oz
Optavia Protein List
  1. Cod
  2. Flounder
  3. Haddock
  4. Shellfish
  5. Swordfish
  6. Trout
  7. Halibut
  8. Salmon
  9. Bluefin Tuna
  10. Mackerel
  11. Game Meat
  12. Lean Ground Meats
  13. Turkey
  14. Chicken Breast
  15. Pork Chops
  16. Lean Beef
  17. Lamb
  18. Dark Meat Poultry
  19. Egg Whites
  20. Whole Eggs (with egg whites)
  21. Liquid Egg Substitute
  22. Seitan
  23. Non-fat Greek Yogurt
  24. Cottage Cheese
  25. Tofu
  26. Reduced-fat Cheese
  27. Ricotta
  28. Tempeh

1. Cod

Cod is a lean, white fish that’s low in fat and high in protein, making it a healthy seafood option. It’s included in Optavia’s protein list because it’s the “leanest” protein source, aligning with the 5&1 plan’s emphasis on low-fat, high-protein meals for weight management. Cod packs a solid protein punch, with about 17-20 grams of protein per 3-ounce cooked serving.

For Optavia’s Lean & Green meal, you’d be looking at 7 ounces of cooked cod to hit the protein target. Cod is super easy to cook—bake, broil, or poach it until it flakes easily with a fork, and you’re good to go!

2. Flounder

Flounder is a mild, delicate flatfish that is low in calories but rich in protein, supporting muscle maintenance and satiety. It’s prominently featured on Optavia’s leanest protein list, offering approximately 22 grams of protein per 7-ounce cooked portion, satisfying Optavia’s Lean & Green meal requirements. Preparing flounder is a breeze—simply grill or sauté it until it turns opaque, and you’ll have a quick, healthy meal.

3. Haddock

Haddock is a flaky, mild-flavored white fish that serves as a diet-friendly protein option, particularly for those conscious of their weight. It’s included in the Optavia leanest list because it provides approximately 21 grams of protein in a 3-ounce cooked portion, making it a protein powerhouse.

To fulfill your lean protein requirements for an Optavia meal, you’d utilize 7 ounces of haddock. Cooking haddock is straightforward—simply bake, grill, or steam it until it turns opaque and is ready to savor.

4. Shellfish

Shellfish, including critters like shrimp, crab, and lobster, are known for their high protein and low-fat profile. They’re featured on Optavia’s leanest list because they deliver approximately 20 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving. When it’s time for a Lean & Green meal on Optavia, you can enjoy up to 7 ounces of these sea gems. Pair them with some non-starchy veggies like zucchini or spinach, and you’ve got yourself a meal that’s both elegant and Optavia-friendly.

5. Swordfish

Swordfish is a meaty, mild-flavored fish that leans towards the richer side, making it a frequent choice in grilling recipes. It’s included in the Optavia leaner protein list because it offers approximately 20-23 grams of protein per 3-ounce cooked portion and 8 grams of fat per 100 grams.

To adhere to Optavia’s guidelines, you should opt for a 6-ounce serving to fulfill your protein requirements without exceeding your fat intake. Pair it with some grilled asparagus or a fresh salad, and you’ll have a satisfying and nutritious Lean & Green meal.

6. Trout

Trout is a freshwater fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids and offers a robust flavor profile. On the Optavia plan, a serving size of trout is 6 ounces if it’s your sole protein source for the meal. It’s listed as a “leaner” option because it’s a bit higher in natural fats compared to the “leanest” category, but still fits within the healthy fat and protein framework of the Optavia diet.

Trout delivers about 19-21 grams of protein per 3-ounce cooked serving, contributing to muscle maintenance and satiety. It pairs beautifully with a variety of non-starchy vegetables like asparagus or summer squash, making it a versatile choice for a Lean and green meal.

7. Halibut

Halibut is a firm, white fish known for its mild flavor and meaty texture, often recommended for its health benefits and versatility in recipes. In the Optavia program, halibut falls under the category of leaner proteins, with a recommended serving size of 6 ounces of cooked halibut for Optavia’s Lean and Green meal. This provides approximately 23 grams of protein, helping to support lean muscle mass without excessive fat. Halibut’s subtle taste makes it an excellent complement to a variety of vegetables, enhancing the meal without overpowering the side dishes.

8. Salmon

Salmon is a rich, flavorful fish loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and is a fantastic source of high-quality protein. It’s part of the Optavia lean list, providing around 19-25 grams per 3.5-ounce cooked serving. When it’s Lean and Green time, salmon shines at 5 ounces, and it pairs wonderfully with a mix of greens—such as spinach, kale, or arugula—for a meal that’s as tasty as it is healthy.

9. Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin tuna is a rich and flavorful fish, highly valued for its tender texture and its abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s included in the Optavia lean protein list. A single serving of cooked bluefin tuna provides an impressive 25 grams of protein in a 3.5-ounce portion. To align with Optavia’s recommendations, you should aim for a 5-ounce serving to fulfill your lean protein requirements. You can typically find bluefin tuna at most seafood markets or in the fresh fish section of upscale grocery stores. Grilling or searing it is the ideal way to savor its delicate flavor and texture.

10. Mackerel

Mackerel is a rich, oily fish known for its strong flavor and high omega-3 content. It’s on the Optavia list as a “lean” protein choice because it supports heart health and fits into the plan’s goal of including healthy fats. You can snag mackerel at most fishmongers or supermarkets, and it’s loaded with about 20.8 grams of protein for a 3-ounce serving. For Optavia’s guidelines, you’d be looking at a 5-ounce serving, and grilling or baking it brings out the best flavor.

11. Game Meat

Game meat, such as buffalo, elk, and deer, is a wild-caught protein that is typically leaner and higher in protein compared to traditional meats. It is included in Optavia’s list of leanest meats due to its low-fat content, providing approximately 22 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving, making it a protein powerhouse.

To create an Optavia Lean and Green meal, target 7 ounces of game meat and include two additional healthy fats. You can find game meat at specialty butchers or sometimes at farmers’ markets, and it is best enjoyed when grilled or broiled to maintain its leanness and flavor.

12. Lean Ground Meats

Lean ground meats are a versatile protein choice, ranging from 85% to 98% lean, offering a balance of taste and health benefits. They’re featured on Optavia’s meat list for their ability to be part of a lean protein diet, crucial for the 5&1 plan’s success in maintaining muscle while losing weight. Depending on the leanness, ground meats can provide between 18-22 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving, making them a substantial part of a Lean and green meal.

13. Turkey

Turkey is a versatile poultry that serves as an excellent source of lean protein, aiding in muscle maintenance and growth. In the Optavia plan, turkey stands out as the leanest protein source, offering high protein content while being lower in fat. You can enjoy approximately 7 ounces of cooked turkey, which is readily available at most grocery stores and holds a significant place in American culture, particularly during Thanksgiving. It delivers a substantial protein boost, providing around 25 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving of breast meat.

14. Chicken Breast

Chicken breast is a popular, low-fat protein source that is versatile and easy to cook, making it perfect for various diets. It is featured on Optavia’s leaner protein list because a single serving of chicken breast provides a substantial 21-26 grams of protein per 3-ounce cooked portion.

To prepare an Optavia Lean & Green meal, you would use 6 ounces of cooked chicken breast, which can be grilled, baked, or poached to maintain its healthiness and deliciousness. You can conveniently find chicken breast at nearly any grocery store, or butcher shop, or even order it online.

15. Pork Chops

Pork chops are a popular cut of pork that are relatively lean yet rich in flavor and can be a satisfying component of a balanced meal. On the Optavia plan, a serving size of pork chops is 6 ounces cooked weight, which fits into the “leaner” category, making it a suitable choice for those on the 5&1 plan looking for variety in their lean protein sources.

Pork chops contain about 26 grams of protein per 5-ounce serving, contributing significantly to the daily protein requirement. When it comes to veggies, roasted asparagus or sautéed spinach can complement the savory taste of pork chops while keeping the meal within the Optavia guidelines. When asking whether you can have pork ribs on Optavia, the answer is no, as they contain too much fat compared to pork chops.

16. Lean Beef

Lean beef is a rich and flavorful meat that’s high in protein and essential nutrients like iron and vitamin B12. It’s included in the Optavia protein list because it boasts about 22 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving, making it a powerhouse for satiety and muscle repair.

For an Optavia meal, you should use 7 ounces of cooked lean beef if it’s 95-97% lean, or 5 ounces if it’s 85-94% lean, to meet your protein needs without overdoing the fat. Pair it with some grilled asparagus or a crisp green salad for a nutrient-dense and satisfying meal.

17. Lamb

Lamb is a rich and flavorful meat, often picked for its tenderness and taste. On the Optavia lean list, lamb falls under the “lean” category, which means if you choose lamb, you should aim for a 5-ounce cooked portion to align with the plan. It provides about 21 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving. Consider pairing it with roasted non-starchy vegetables such as cauliflower or a fresh green salad to complete your Lean and Green meal.

18. Dark Meat Poultry

Dark meat poultry, such as chicken thighs and drumsticks, offers a richer flavor due to its higher fat content compared to white meat. It’s included in the Optavia lean protein list because it contains a bit more fat but still aligns with the plan’s guidelines. You’ll receive approximately 21 grams of protein from a 3-ounce cooked serving of dark meat poultry.

For an Optavia meal, it’s recommended to use 5 ounces of dark meat poultry and prepare it by grilling, baking, or broiling, while skipping the skin to keep it healthier. Dark meat poultry pairs wonderfully with non-starchy veggies like spinach or summer squash, enhancing its robust flavor without adding excessive carbs.

19. Egg Whites

Egg whites are a high-protein, fat-free food that athletes and bodybuilders often incorporate into their diets to build lean muscle mass. They are featured on Optavia’s meatless protein list due to their high protein and low-calorie profile. With approximately 3.6 grams of protein per egg white, they are an excellent choice for muscle maintenance without the added fat.

To meet your protein requirements for Optavia’s Lean & Green meal, you would typically use about 14 egg whites. Egg whites are incredibly versatile and pair well with almost any vegetable, but they shine when combined with spinach, bell peppers, and mushrooms, creating a nutrient-rich omelet or scramble.

20. Whole Eggs

You can have eggs on Optavia. Whole eggs are a versatile and nutrient-rich food, often praised as nature’s multivitamin. They are included in Optavia’s leaner meatless list. Each egg is a protein powerhouse, providing approximately 6 grams of high-quality protein.

To fulfill your protein requirements without exceeding fat intake, for Optavia’s Lean & Green meal, you can enjoy 2 whole eggs along with 4 egg whites. Pair them with spinach or bell peppers to create a colorful, nutrient-dense meal that is both delicious and healthy.

21. Liquid Egg Substitute

Liquid egg substitute is a versatile and convenient protein source, commonly chosen as a lower-calorie and cholesterol-free alternative to whole eggs. On the Optavia protein list, it falls into the leanest category, with a serving size of 2 cups, providing approximately 40 grams of protein. This makes it an excellent choice for muscle maintenance and satiety. Pair it with spinach or bell peppers to create a nutrient-rich, Lean and green meal that’s not only healthy but also colorful.

22. Seitan

Seitan is a popular meat substitute made from gluten, the main protein in wheat, known for its meaty texture and versatility in recipes. Optavia includes seitan on their protein list as a meatless option, offering a change of pace for those looking to reduce meat consumption while still hitting their protein goals.

Seitan is protein-rich, with about 21 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving, making it a heavyweight in the plant-based protein arena. When whipping up an Optavia-friendly Lean & Green meal, toss in 5 ounces of seitan and pair it with non-starchy veggies like spinach, bell peppers, or zucchini for a balanced, nutritious dish.

23. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a creamy and tangy dairy product that undergoes straining to remove most of its whey, resulting in a thicker consistency compared to regular yogurt. On Optavia’s list, non-fat (0%) plain Greek yogurt is considered the “leanest” protein choice due to its low calorie and fat content, coupled with its high protein content.

This aligns with the plan’s objective of promoting lean protein consumption for effective weight management. Each 12-ounce serving typically contains about 30-40 grams of protein, making it suitable for both muscle repair and satiety. You can pair it with spinach or cucumber for a refreshing Lean and Green meal, as these vegetables complement its creaminess without significantly increasing the carb content.

24. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese curd product with a mild flavor and a creamy, rich texture that’s high in protein and calcium. On the Optavia plan, you can enjoy 12 ounces of 1% cottage cheese as a meatless protein option, which supports muscle maintenance and satiety. It contains about 28 grams of protein per one-cup serving, contributing to the daily protein goals in a nutrient-rich way.

When asked how to incorporate cottage cheese on Optavia, it pairs beautifully with non-starchy vegetables such as cucumber, bell peppers, and spinach, making it a versatile component in Optavia’s Lean and Green meals.

25. Tofu

Tofu is a versatile, plant-based protein made from soybeans, commonly used as a meat substitute in vegetarian and vegan dishes. On the Optavia protein list, tofu, also known as bean curd, is listed as 15 oz. Tofu provides approximately 10 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce serving, making it an excellent choice for supporting muscle maintenance and promoting satiety. For a nutrient-packed Lean and Green meal, consider pairing tofu with stir-fried non-starchy veggies such as bok choy, mushrooms, and spinach from Optavia’s Green Options.

26. Reduced-fat Cheese

Reduced-fat cheese is a tasty and versatile dairy product, which is lower in fat compared to full-fat cheeses while still being a good source of calcium and protein. It’s included in Optavia’s protein list as it contains approximately 6-8 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving. For a delicious and protein-packed Optavia-friendly meal, consider sprinkling 1 cup of shredded reduced-fat cheese on a zucchini boat filled with ground turkey and veggies.

27. Ricotta

Ricotta, a soft Italian cheese, is surprisingly high in protein and can be a valuable component of a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. Optavia includes 8 oz. (1 cup) of ricotta in its protein list due to its creamy texture and substantial protein content. A 1-cup serving of part-skim ricotta cheese contains about 28 grams of protein, contributing to the daily protein needs without excessive calories. One delicious Optavia-friendly recipe is stuffed zucchini boats where the ricotta’s creaminess complements the fresh, green taste of the zucchini perfectly.

28. Tempeh

Tempeh is a traditional soy product that undergoes fermentation and is shaped into a firm, dense cake, making it a popular high-protein meat substitute. It’s included in the Optavia meatless protein list and provides approximately 18 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving. When preparing an Optavia meal, you would incorporate 5 ounces of tempeh. For a delicious Lean and Green option, consider grilling it with a dash of soy sauce and serving it over a bed of sautéed spinach.

How much protein is recommended on the Optavia diet?

The Optavia diet suggests consuming 100-120 grams of protein daily, which accounts for approximately 40% of your daily calorie intake. This recommendation finds support in a 2016 study published in the “Food & Function Journal” titled “Dietary protein intake and human health.”

protein on Optavia diet
How much protein is recommended on the Optavia diet?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein for a healthy adult with minimal physical activity currently stands at 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, based on short-term nitrogen balance studies.

What are the best types of proteins on the Optavia food list?

The best types of proteins on the Optavia food list are the leanest meats such as buffalo, elk, deer, and ground turkey, as they are low in fat. You can include up to 7 ounces of these proteins along with 2 servings of healthy fats. According to a 2004 study by Jay R. Hoffman from the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, proteins from animal sources like eggs, milk, meat, fish, and poultry are considered high-quality due to their completeness in providing all essential amino acids.

“Animal protein sources are generally considered complete proteins, while vegetable proteins are usually incomplete, lacking one or two essential amino acids.”

Hoffman JR, Falvo MJ. Protein – Which is Best?. J Sports Sci Med. 2004;3(3):118-130. Published 2004 Sep 1.

What types of proteins are approved on the Optavia diet?

On the Optavia diet, you’re looking at three tiers of proteins, including leanest, leaner, and lean. You’re allowed 5 to 7 ounces of these proteins, depending on the fat content, to make up the “Lean” part of your Lean and Green meal.

  • Optavia Leanest Protein List: Optavia’s leanest protein list is all about high-protein, low-fat picks, like fish (think cod, flounder, haddock), shellfish, and game meats such as buffalo, elk, and deer. You’re looking at a 7 oz. serving size for these proteins, which is a solid portion to fill you up without the extra fat.
  • Optavia Leaner Protein List: The Optavia “leaner” protein list includes options like swordfish, trout, halibut, and 95-97% lean ground meats, which have a slightly higher fat content than the “leanest” category. Chicken breast also falls into this category, providing a versatile and widely accepted lean protein source. For those who don’t eat meat, this list includes whole eggs mixed with egg whites, low-fat Greek yogurt, and low-fat cottage cheese, offering a balance of protein and healthy fats.
  • Optavia Lean Protein List: The Optavia lean protein list includes heartier options like salmon, bluefin tuna, and mackerel, which are a bit richer in fats but still great for the 5&1 plan with a 5 oz serving size. Lean beef, lamb, and 85-94% lean ground meats are also on the list, offering variety for those who enjoy red meat. For non-meat eaters, tofu, whole eggs (limited to twice a week), reduced-fat cheese, ricotta, and tempeh are the go-to’s, keeping meals interesting and protein-packed.

What foods are not included in the Optavia protein list?

Foods not on the Optavia protein list are typically higher in carbs or fats, even if they’re good protein sources. Here’s a quick list of what’s not included:

  • Almonds: Almonds are not included as a protein source on Optavia because of their high-fat content. Although they are a great source of protein and delicious, it is easy to consume too many of them, which can lead to excessive fat intake. The Optimal 5 and 1 plan allows a serving size of 8 pieces of almonds, while the Optimal 3 and 3 plan and the healthy exchange food list allow up to 12 pieces per serving.
  • Milk: While milk is allowed on the Optavia diet, it can only be used as a condiment rather than a main source of protein. This is because milk has a higher fat content than other lean protein sources, which can make it less ideal for those looking to lose weight.
  • Quinoa: Quinoa is not allowed on the Optavia diet plan, even though it’s a great source of protein. It’s high in fiber, low in carbs, and can be a great addition to meals and snacks. However, it’s not included on the Optavia protein list due to its carbohydrate content.
  • Lentils: You cannot have lentils on the Optavia diet. Although lentils are a good source of protein and other nutrients, they are not included in the Optavia protein list as they can interfere with reaching and maintaining a fat-burning state.
  • Beans: On the Optavia 5&1 plan, you cannot include beans in your diet. While beans are high in protein, they also contain a significant amount of carbohydrates.
  • Peanut Butter: You cannot have peanut butter as a protein source, only as a condiment.

Which foods are included on the Optavia meat list?

The Optavia meat list refers to approved animal proteins that can be incorporated into the Optavia diet for lean and green meals. While many lean meats are included, serving sizes vary depending on the fat content per 100 grams. Here are the foods featured on the Optavia meat list.

  1. Turkey breast
  2. Chicken breast
  3. Duck Breast
  4. Lamb Loin Chop
  5. Beef Chuck
  6. Pork Tenderloin
  7. Goat Meat
  8. Buffalo meat
  9. Elk meat
  10. Deer meat

What foods are not included in the Optavia meat list?

The Optavia program typically excludes certain meats from its list due to higher fat content or processing methods that don’t align with the diet’s guidelines.

  1. Ribeye Steak
  2. T-bone Steak
  3. Bacon
  4. Sausages
  5. Hot Dogs
  6. Fried Chicken
  7. Pepperoni
  8. Salami
  9. Pork Belly

Can you have bacon on the Optavia diet?

Yes, you can include bacon in the Optavia diet, but there are certain restrictions to keep in mind. According to the Optavia 5&1 plan, it’s advisable not to rely on bacon as your primary protein source during the weight loss phase due to its high sodium and saturated fat content. In the maintenance phases, you can enjoy up to 2 oz of Canadian bacon as your lean option. While 4 oz of bacon provides over 42 g of protein, it also packs in over 600 calories, equivalent to two Lean and Green meals.

What is the Optavia Protein Chart?

The Optavia protein chart is an informative tool that lists the various protein options permitted on Optavia diet plans, providing details on serving sizes, types, grams of protein per serving, and grams of fat per serving. It serves as a convenient reference for individuals looking to purchase food while following the Optavia program. The following diagram shows the Optavia Protein Chart regarding serving size.

Optavia protein reference chart

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