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7 High Protein Meals for Muscle Gain Nutritionists Recommend

Courtesy of Health Down South

It’s no secret that exercise plays a vital role in the pursuit of building a strong, lean physique. However, that’s only one piece of the puzzle. You have to fuel yourself to achieve optimal muscle gain, and protein is particularly important for muscle growth and repair. These high protein meals for muscle gain can help.

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, for most active individuals, building and maintaining muscle mass requires an overall daily protein intake in the range of 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or about 0.6 to 0.9 grams per pound. So, for a 140-pound woman, that works out to 84 to 126 grams per day. Ideally that involves spreading out protein intake every 3 to 4 hours throughout the day, making sure to consume a dose of 20 to 40 grams to refuel shortly after a workout.

From breakfast to dinner and all the snacks and mini-meals in between, these high-protein meals for muscle gain offer something for everyone, whether you’re an omnivore, totally plant-based, or follow any other eating style.

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1. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Overnight Oats

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Overnight Oats

Courtesy of Nutrition Starring YOU

Overnight oats are an easy way to get your protein on the go during busy mornings. This delicious combo packs 23 grams of protein from leucine-rich whey powder, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and old-fashioned oats. Use the same proportion of ingredients and switch up flavors of protein powder and fruit to create endless combinations.

Try the recipe at Nutrition Starring YOU.

2. Wild Blueberry Peanutty Protein Smoothie

Wild Blueberry Peanutty Protein Smoothie

Courtesy of Nutrition Starring YOU

This Wild Blueberry Peanutty Protein Smoothie packs 24 grams of plant-based protein with a whopping 13 grams of fiber. That’s about half of the recommended daily intake in breakfast alone. The secret ingredient is tofu, which adds complete plant protein and a creamy texture. This gorgeous and satisfying smoothie is a high-protein meal for muscle gain that’s also vegan, gluten-free, and made with no added sugar.

Try the recipe at Nutrition Starring YOU.

Related: 10 Gluten Free and Dairy Free Breakfast Ideas with 30 Grams of Protein

3. Greek Yogurt Banana Split

Greek Yogurt Banana Split

Courtesy of Health Down South

Atlanta-based registered dietitian Jessie Hulsey shares this Greek yogurt banana split, “a fantastic choice for those looking to gain muscle mass, due to the 27 grams of protein mainly from the combination of Greek yogurt and protein powder. The addition of chia seeds provides a boost of omega-3 fatty acids for muscle recovery, while berries and peanut butter offer additional nutrients and healthy fats to support muscle growth and overall fitness goals.”

Try the recipe at Health Down South.

4. No-Bake Four-Ingredient Protein Bars

No Bake, Four Ingredient Protein Bars

Courtesy of One Pot Wellness

Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT, says, “These protein bars are great for supporting muscle gain because they use whey protein, which is a complete protein with all the essential amino acids. Along with fast-digesting carbohydrates in dates, this snack promotes muscle recovery and growth after exercise and makes them an effective post-workout snack with 13 grams of protein.”

Try the recipe at One Pot Wellness.

5. Mediterranean Salmon Salad with Artichokes, White Beans & Lemon Dressing

Mediterranean Salmon Salad with Artichokes, White Beans & Lemon Dressing

Courtesy of Nutrition Starring YOU

Meal prep is key for busy people looking for high-protein meals for muscle gain. Your pantry does most of the work for this salad, which provides 30 grams of protein per one-cup serving. A bonus is the heart-healthy omega-3 fats from the fatty fish. Plus, it’s a super versatile recipe with many serving options. For a lower-carb meal, scoop over a veggie salad, roll some up in butter lettuce leaves, or serve in half an avocado. Or, add some salmon salad to a high-fiber pita or tortilla for a quick and portable high-protein meal for muscle gain.

Try the recipe at Nutrition Starring YOU.

Related: 7 Mediterranean Diet Lunch Ideas We Love Right Now

6. Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

buffalo chicken meatballs on a plate

Courtesy of Sarah Pflugradt Nutrition

“Chicken is a rich source of leucine, a branched-chain amino acid that can help start the process of building new muscle,” says registered dietitian Sarah Pflugradt. These tasty meatballs have 29 grams of protein per serving and are a lighter Buffalo option than the fried wings you get at restaurants. Pfulgradt suggests pairing this recipe with a roasted sweet potato and a green salad for a complete meal.

Try the recipe at Sarah Pflugradt Nutrition.

7. Air Fryer New York Strip Steaks

Air Fryer New York Strip Steaks

Courtesy of Laura Clevenger

According to Lara Clevenger, MSH, RDN, CPT,  “A New York strip steak is a good option for those wanting to gain muscle because it’s a great source of high-quality protein and provides all of the necessary nutrients to promote muscle protein synthesis.” Add roasted veggies and a baked potato or whole grain to balance your plate.

Try the recipe at Lara Clevenger.

Read next: What to Eat Before a Workout, According to an Expert Trainer

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