By Carrie Havranek
Protein, as they say, is the building block of life. That’s not hyperbole. Every single one of our cells contains protein and we need it to repair cells and make new ones. It gives us energy and improves our metabolism by slowing digestion and regulating blood sugar. A high protein meal, in balance with some combination of fats, complex carbohydrates, and fiber, helps us stay full longer and makes us less prone to crashes and cravings.
How much protein you need varies on your sex, your age, your level of activity and more. But no matter how much you need, the important thing is to space out your consumption throughout the day. Most of us eat the majority of our protein at dinner, according to a 2015 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study authors say this imbalanced intake may negatively impact muscle health and metabolic health. Instead, aim to get a good amount of protein — around 20-30 grams — at every meal.
We’ve got you covered with high protein recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner:
High Protein Breakfasts
Eggs are always a good bet: A single egg contains 6 grams of protein, about half in the yolk and half in the whites. Plus, there are endless ways to serve them up. Not into eggs? Try a chickpea scramble in the morning instead. Not only are chickpeas a good source of protein, they also contain vitamin C and zinc, both of which help boost collagen production. Bonus!
- Cheesy Egg White Veggie Breakfast Muffins from Ambitious Kitchen
- Mexican Black Bean Breakfast Skillet from Kitchen Magpie
- Lox Omelet from Eat Whole Live Fit
- Protein Packed Breakfast Burritos from Fit Foodie Finds
- Sweet and Savory Egg and Oatmeal Combo Bowl from Eating Bird Food
- Chickpea Scramble from Sweet Simple Vegan
- Make Ahead High Protein Oatmeal from Sarah Gold, RD
- Protein Packed Chia Pudding from My Darling Vegan
High Protein Lunches
There is nothing wrong with PB & J every once in a while. But, it’s never a bad idea to mix things up. These salads, wraps, and foil packs will keep you from getting bored at lunchtime—or skipping lunch altogether. These recipes lean on quick or no-cook proteins such as shrimp and canned tuna or salmon, and proteins you can make ahead of time, such as lentils or turkey.
- Avocado Tuna Salad from Gimme Delicious
- Meal Prep Chicken Burrito Bowls from Jar of Lemons
- Curried Lentil Salad from Love and Lemons
- Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps from Sweet Peas and Saffron
- Baked Shrimp and Broccoli Foil Packs from Eat Well 101
- Salmon Kale Caesar Salad from A Saucy Kitchen
- Chickpea Tuna Salad from Platings and Pairings
High Protein Dinners
Protein is an easy fit at dinner time and where most of us fit in 60% of our protein. Whether you’re an omnivore or lean toward plant-based eating, these recipes make a complete meal for dinner and great leftovers the next day — on their own or repurposed over greens or cauliflower rice.
- Mediterranean Hummus Bowls from Budget Bytes
- Instant Pot Beef Stew from Jessica Gavin
- Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas from Feel Good Foodie
- Easy Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry from Joyful Healthy Eats
- Cilantro Lime Salmon with Mango Salsa from Half Baked Harvest
- Garlic Butter Salmon from Salt and Lavender
- Vegan Stuffed Peppers from Well Plated
- Quinoa Chickpea Buddha Bowl from Minimalist Baker
- Easy Chickpea Curry from Two Peas and Their Pod
- Vegan Mediterranean Sheet Pan Dinner from Crowded Kitchen