Protein aids in the growth and repair of lean muscle mass, but it also aids in digestion by making you feel full faster and for longer, making it essential to include it in every meal. So, how does this appear on your plate during a meal? Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, a sports dietitian and author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook, recommends consuming 20 to 30 grams of high-quality protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In practical terms, this equates to approximately 3 to 4 ounces of protein per meal, or about a quarter to a third of your plate. “Then, based on your overall protein requirements, you can supplement your snack with string cheese, beef jerky, hard-boiled eggs, or yogurt,” Goodson says.
If you want to gain muscle, according to Goodson, you should maximize muscle protein synthesis during the post-workout window. This means that you should consume 15 to 25 grams of high-quality protein (containing 3 to 4 grams of leucine, an essential branched-chain amino acid for muscle protein synthesis) as soon as possible following exercise, and preferably within the first 45 minutes. Combining proteins with simple carbohydrates is optimal. There would be a post-workout ready-to-drink shake, a smoothie made with cow’s milk, Greek yogurt topped with fruit, or low-fat chocolate milk. According to Goodson, you should then consume a complete meal with 20 to 30 grams of protein, such as lean beef, pig, chicken, or eggs. If you consume more plant-based protein, make careful to ingest a high-leucine protein combination.
All of the following 25 recipes contain at least 15 grams of protein, and many contain significantly more. If the recipe is only for the protein portion of the meal, there are suggestions for the remaining components (usually a whole grain and some veggies). Select your favorites and then proceed down the list! Read on, and for more, check out 50 Healthy Dinner Recipes That Can Be Prepared in 30 Minutes or Less!
Lighter Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp is an extremely lean protein, containing 18 grams of protein per 3-ounce cooked dish. In addition, it is an outstanding source of selenium and a decent source of vitamin B12. Moreover, it contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 lipids. This shrimp scampi pairs well with zoodles or whole-grain pasta, as well as a green salad.
Air Fryer Turkey Burgers
These Air Fryer Turkey Burgers contain 39 grams of lean protein and are a quick and simple substitute for traditional beef burgers. These are prepared without breadcrumbs for a low-carb, less-than-20-minute meal.
Moroccan Lentil Soup
Cooked lentils have 9 grams of protein per half-cup, making them one of my favorite plant-based proteins. They are rich in fiber, which makes them satisfying, and also contain essential elements such as iron and folate. In addition, a serving of lentils is incredibly inexpensive, costing close to $0.10 per quarter-cup portion.
Italian-Inspired Beef & Farro Bowls
Lean beef is a nutrient-dense, high-quality protein source. A 3-ounce meal of cooked lean beef contains 10 critical nutrients, including B vitamins, zinc, and iron, that promote a healthy and active lifestyle.
Creamy Polenta Shrimp and Vegetable Bowls
This recipe utilizes shrimp, a low-fat source of protein, to fulfill one of the two recommended seafood meals each week. It contains choline, which is essential for brain and liver function, and is a source of heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fats.
Vegan Baked Spaghetti
This baked spaghetti is packed with 23 grams of plant protein thanks to the use of silken tofu, chickpea pasta, and textured vegetable protein. The soy (in the form of tofu and textured vegetable protein) in this spaghetti is not only an excellent source of protein, but it may also aid in weight loss and lower cholesterol levels. In addition, the pasta’s nutritious fiber content ensures that this spaghetti will keep you full for hours. Meatless Monday is upon us!
Tuna Burgers with Smashed Avocado and Tomato
These burgers are made with relatively inexpensive tuna in a can, which is low in saturated fat and high in complete protein, as well as numerous vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Chicken with Spinach and Mushrooms
This chicken dish with spinach and mushrooms is loaded with lean protein thanks to the boneless, skinless chicken and Greek yogurt in the creamy sauce. This dish is minimal in calories, but the protein content makes it quite filling and fulfilling.
Vegan Fried Tofu Sandwich
This fried tofu sandwich is made using tofu, a plant-based protein. In fact, each serving contains 22 grams of protein! Tofu contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
Slow Cooker Rump Roast
The bottom round rump roast is a lean cut of beef that lends itself well to slow cooking. It is high in protein and low in fat compared to beef cuts which are higher in fat. Use to shred for salads and wraps, or eat alone!
Baked Bean Pizza
Are there beans on your pizza? Yup! This pizza contains sixteen grams of protein per serving. The baked beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber to keep you feeling full for longer.
Easy Baked Fish in Foil Recipe
Low in saturated fat, white fish such as haddock and cod are heart-healthy. In addition, it provides the body with all of the essential amino acids and heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
Air Fryer Bison Burgers
Bison is a relatively lean meat and an excellent source of protein, having 24 grams of protein per three-ounce meal in addition to key minerals such as iron, zinc, selenium, and Vitamin B12. It retains flavor while consuming less fat and oil when cooked in an air fryer, making it a healthier dish.
Healthier Chicken Pot Pie
This healthier chicken pot pie dish has fewer calories, fat, and sodium while providing more lean protein, fiber, and flavor than classic recipes. Individual, single-serve portions are created to facilitate serving and ensure that everyone receives an equal amount of the good stuff!
General Tso’s Tofu with Cauliflower
This stir-fry recipe features organic extra-firm tofu, which contains full protein, satiating fiber, and health-protective isoflavones. In addition, after squeezing out extra moisture, tofu may be browned well to produce 100% plant-based, hearty goodness—no meat required.
Ultimate Street Fish Tacos
In addition to being a terrific source of protein, these street-sized fish tacos are bursting with flavor and nutrients. Two small tacos provide 17 grams of protein per serving, primarily from white fish. White fish such as cod, mahi mahi, tilapia, and halibut are strong in protein and low in fat, and their firm texture makes them ideal for tacos. Moreover, white fish is often an excellent provider of selenium for immune support and B vitamins for vitality. To save time and money, use frozen fish and simply defrost it before cooking.
Quick and Easy Turkey Taco Soup
This hearty, chunky soup is made with ground turkey and three cans of various beans, which provide 18 grams of protein per serving and 8 grams of heart- and blood-sugar-friendly fiber!
Simply Seared Scallops
Did you know that scallops contain greater than 80% protein? Additionally, scallops are slim and fat-free! Three ounces of scallops provide around 90 calories, 17 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat, and 25% of the recommended requirement for selenium. Serve with mango chutney, steaming greens, and the whole grain of your choice.