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9 Muscle-Building Recipes to Boost Your Metabolism

By Summer Rylander
January 11, 2023
Image credit: The Café Sucre Farine

If you’ve been trying to get into a healthy eating and workout routine this year, you’re not alone. We’re right there with you, trying to eat better, move more, and generally get ourselves on track after the holiday season. But rather than focusing on what not to eat, we love to celebrate tasty, healthful foods that can help you feel great and support your healthy lifestyle. That’s why we’ve gathered up these protein-rich, muscle-building recipes.

Why focus on muscle? Sure, muscles look good, and they also help you to stay strong, keep your bones protected, and age like a champ. Plus, muscle helps rev your metabolism; essentially, it takes a lot of energy to build and maintain muscle, so having more of it can keep your metabolism humming along. Eating plenty of protein is one of the keys to building and maintaining muscle, along with strength training. Put together, regular exercise and protein-rich meals can get you a long way toward your healthy-living goals.

Here are some delicious, protein-rich recipes, with plenty of variety to suit your taste.

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1. Lemon Baked Cod

Lemon Baked Cod

Image credit: Rasa Malaysia

Cod is a high-protein food that absolutely promotes muscle growth. It’s also so versatile, and since it cooks quickly, it’s perfect for weeknight dinners. (This recipe is ready in under 15 minutes.) Serve this lemon-baked cod with roasted carrots, garlicky sautéed mushrooms, or a spinach salad to add to your day’s vegetable count.

Try the recipe from Rasa Malaysia.

2. Baked Peanut Tofu Bowls

Baked Peanut Tofu Bowls

Image credit: Eat With Clarity

Tofu is wonderfully adaptable in both flavor and texture, and it’s also a great plant-based source of protein. In this recipe, firm tofu gets baked with a sweet-salty peanut marinade before being paired with avocado, bell pepper, and kale. Served over brown rice for extra vitamins and minerals, and to avoid refined grains. This is a vegetable-forward, healthful bowl you’ll be eager to dive into.

Try the recipe from Eat With Clarity.

3. Rotisserie-Style Air Fryer Chicken

Rotisserie-Style Air Fryer Chicken

Image credit: Jennifer Banz

Chicken might just be the MVP of healthy, muscle-building protein, and cooking a whole chicken at the top of the week is a gift to your future self since easy-to-enjoy leftovers are almost guaranteed. Air fryers yield amazing results and require much less oil than other cooking methods, so if you opt to air fry your bird rather than pick up a rotisserie chicken from the store, you’re about an hour away from tender meat and crispy skin — without all the grease. The next day, use the remaining chicken to top zoodles, in a chicken salad, or as the basis for a chicken soup.

Try the recipe from Jennifer Banz.

4. Ground Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Ground Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Image credit: The Healthy Consultant with Abbey Blackwell

This variation on beef and broccoli takes just 20 minutes to prepare, which is hard to argue with on busy weeknights when your desire for a healthy, tasty dinner filled with protein and vegetables is at complete odds with your motivation to cook. If beef isn’t your thing, this quick stir-fry is just as flavorful with ground turkey, chicken, or even crumbled tofu. Serve over a grain of your choice — brown rice or wild rice would be great here — or eat as-is if you’re watching your carbs.

Try the recipe from The Healthy Consultant.

5. Honey Mustard Baked Salmon

Honey Mustard Baked Salmon

Image credit: Rasa Malaysia

Baking protein-rich salmon eliminates the fuss and splatter of stovetop preparation, and the addition of lemon, Dijon mustard, and just a dollop of honey makes this a main course with tons of flavor. Serve your fish with a seasonal vegetable — think asparagus in early spring, or a nice kale salad in winter — and dinner is sorted.

Try the recipe from Rasa Malaysia.

6. Creamy Eggs Baked in Avocado

Eggs Baked in Avocado

Image credit: Healthy Recipes by Vered Deleeuw

Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or even as a light dinner, this recipe offers a quick hit of healthy satisfaction. Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein, and both eggs and avocados are nutrient powerhouses. Jazz up this simple recipe with extra chili flakes, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, or add your favorite fresh herbs.

Try the recipe from Healthy Recipes.

7. South Indian-Style Chickpea Curry

South Indian-Style Chickpea Curry

Image credit: Holy Cow Vegan

Chickpeas are a great source of both protein and fiber, and they’re the front-and-center ingredient in this comforting, filling dish. Warm spices — including turmeric, ginger, cumin, and cardamom — come together in creamy, nutrient-rich coconut milk to create a saucy, nutritious meal. Serve with a simple side salad, like a Kachumber, to create balanced flavors and get some raw vegetables in.

Try the recipe from Holy Cow Vegan.

8. Skillet Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Farro

Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Farro

Image credit: The Café Sucre Farine

Chicken breasts are a cost-effective, protein-packed staple, and are an ideal muscle-building food. When paired with farro — a nutty, fiber-filled ancient grain — they’re a versatile, healthy meal waiting to happen. This recipe uses lemon and fragrant rosemary to create big flavors with the convenience of one-pan preparation. Not into farro? Swap it out for barley, couscous, quinoa, or whichever grain you’ve got in the cupboard.

Try the recipe from The Café Sucre Farine.

9. Vegetable Frittata

Vegetable Frittata

Image credit: Downshiftology

Frittatas are awesome in that you can throw in whichever vegetables and herbs are closest to calling it quits in your fridge, add just about any seasoning, and in less than 30 minutes, you’re sitting down to a delicious, muscle-fueling meal. This recipe includes yogurt for both added creaminess and additional protein.

Try the recipe from Downshiftology.

Read next: 8 Delicious, Metabolism-Boosting Mediterranean Diet Recipes

Summer Rylander is a freelance food and travel writer based in Germany. Find her on Twitter and Instagram

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