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If you’ve been lifting weights for a short amount of time, you may not know yet the importance of protein for muscle growth and sustainability.
If you do, then you may not know how to incorporate protein into your diet properly.
Or, alternatively, you’ve been lifting for a while and you’re getting bored of the same chicken, rice and vegetables every single day. You’re looking for a little bit of inspiration and you want to switch it up in the kitchen.
Well, you’ll be pleased to know there are a whole bunch of tasty recipes out there with high protein content, purpose for getting those gains in the gym and for helping your body to repair your muscles after a particularly strenuous workout session.
If you are ever wondering what to do with your leftover chicken, check out these 42 Delicious Shredded Chicken Recipes.
High Protein Meal Prep Recipe Ideas
So if you aren’t sure about how to get enough protein into your meals, not to worry! We’ve compiled some of our favorite high protein recipes to get your started in the kitchen!
Beef is a great source of protein and packed with iron and creatine, which all play important roles in muscle growth. This slow cooker bolognese is not only a great way to add protein into your diet but also vitamins and minerals too. One portion of this one pot bolognese contains 26 grams of protein and 35% of your daily recommended iron. It takes just 5 minutes to prep so its perfect to chuck on in the morning and enjoy after work!
This slowed cooked Mexican vegan chilli is spiced, smokey and so easy to make! All you need is a slow cooker, a handful of ingredients and 5 minutes to prep. It’s high in protein, containing 23 grams per portion and low in calories, containing just 347 per portion. Its easy for batch cooking, which is why I love to meal prep this recipe! Simply toss all the ingredients into the slow cooker, turn on and leave to cook. Its that easy!
Chicken is a great way to add lean protein to your diet, it’s even better when the recipe only takes 5 minutes of prep. This crockpot chicken teriyaki is perfect for busy people who want to get something cooking quickly. Each chicken thigh contains 29 grams of protein each, meaning you’re getting a whopping 58 grams of protein per serving.
Tip : Make sure to not over or under-fill your crockpot to avoid over or under cooking. If you need more information about how different size crockpots work, we have made an in depth crockpot size guide.
Turkey is one of the best meats to have when you’re aiming for lean muscle growth. This air fryer turkey burger only contains 3 grams of net carbs and 3 grams of fat while having a whopping 28 grams of protein. It’s perfect for making in bulk because the turkey patties freeze so well. Once the patties are made, they take just 10 minutes to cook. This recipe only requires one bowl and an air fryer, making it extremely fuss-free!
This delicious chicken chow mein is much healthier, tastier and quicker than your local takeaway. It’s perfect if you are a fan of Asian food, and it’s full of delightful nutrients to keep you nice and healthy. It only takes 20 minutes to make, and has 25 grams of protein per portion!
When you think about healthy breakfasts, we doubt that you think about pancakes. To make your pancakes healthy though, it’s just a simple matter of turning oats into flour.
This is fairly simple to do so long as you have a blender – simply put the oats required on their own into a blender for a few minutes until the oats begin to resemble flour. You can then continue with making your pancakes as you normally would.
Even better? These pancakes have half the calories of normal pancakes – only 530! And with a whopping 42g of protein, they are perfect for before a workout.
In order to make this recipe part of your meal prep, you will need to allow the pancakes to cool and then refrigerate them where you can then leave them for around 3 days. It is not possible to freeze them. You simply need to put them in a microwave proof container for around 2 minutes in the microwave in order to reheat them.
If you’re a fan of smoked meat, then you’re going to love this recipe. This smokey Traeger turkey is tender and stuffed with fresh herbs, giving it a lightly herbed and smoked flavor. It’s perfect for batch cooking, and if you don’t like waste, you can make an easy moreish turkey pan gravy from the juices. This recipe contains approximately 57 grams of protein and 2 grams of saturated fat per 4 oz, making it excellent for lean high-protein meal prep.
Overnight oats are very versatile – you could have them every single day, but by playing around with the ingredients you can make them taste different each time. Strawberry flavored one day, peanut butter the next – the possibilities are endless.
This particular recipe is incredibly easy to make, and requires very little time to make. You can make overnight oats in less than 10 minutes with ease, so it works well after a workout. You can even create a batch and eat them throughout the week.
We all love sandwiches. Unfortunately the myth that carbs and bread are the devil is one that’s pretty common when it comes to nutrition – this is simply just a myth. This delightful little high protein lunch is ideal for days when you just can’t leave your desk in work because you’re so busy, but you still want something delicious and nutritious.
The sandwich contains a massive 31g of protein, so you can be sure that you will stay nice and full throughout the entire day. The extra protein comes from greek yogurt – yummy!
This vegan friendly dish contains only 561 calories per serving and 18g of protein, making it ideal for lunchtimes at work. There are a lot of things to love about this recipe, but perhaps the main thing that caught our eye about it is that it doesn’t require any cooking. This means that you don’t need to mess around with the oven. No need to use the microwave or the oven – it’s all ready for you. It will fit right in with your beach body summer plan.
Need more healthy salad prep ideas? Check out these 30 amazing salad meal prep ideas.
We LOVE sloppy joes, but unfortunately most of them just aren’t that healthy. Well, get all the love of a sloppy joe but for only 265 calories and 25 grams of protein with this delectable recipe.
To make this recipe, you will need turkey instead of ground beef, which is why it’s so low on calories and fat. You can even incorporate your veggies into this sloppy joe, and you can play around with the spices as much as you like to create a meal that you’ll never forget.
If you’re looking for a dish with plenty of flavor and very few calories, then the Three Bean Java Chili is a great meal choice for you. Perhaps one of the coolest things about this recipe is that it incorporates coffee to bring out that flavor. If you love caffeine, then you’re in luck.
The recipe contains 270 calories in total, meaning that it’s a delightful guilt free lunch that you could easily eat at your desk. It’s also got 21 grams of protein, so it’s perfect for after your workout in the gym.
This one is for all of the vegetarians out there looking for delicious meal ideas to get them through the week. This is the perfect meal for any time of the day, not just for breakfast! It includes a bunch of fibre and is simply too good to resist. Thankfully, you can also prepare the quinoa the night before so you can save yourself a whole bunch of time.
This steak recipe is simply irresistible and is perfect for when you’re meal prepping ahead of a busy week. All you need to do is put the steak onto a sheet pan with the ingredients, and you’ve got yourself a simple yet delicious meal. If you want to add some extra healthy fats in you can also add some olive oil and a little bit of red pepper to get some more spice.
The recipe includes a massive 48 grams of protein per serving too, so it’s perfect for when you’re looking for that protein boost for muscle gains in the gym. It can even give you around 4 days worth of meals. What more is there to love?
If you’re a vegetarian looking to really spice up their breakfast, then you should definitely try these vegetarian black bean breakfast burritos. Containing stunning scrambled eggs with some tahini and cumin spiced black beans, with a little extra sweet potato, chopped green chili peppers and some corn, sweet breakfast dreams are made of this.
These breakfast burritos can be prepped and then tossed into the freezer until the day comes when you want to have some of these bad boys for breakfast. All you have to do is put together the burritos, then wrap them up in some aluminum foil and stick them into the freezer. Then, you’ll just need to put one in the microwave real quick until hot.
Even better is that this breakfast burrito contains a wonderful 16 grams of protein. If you’re desperate to increase that protein intake then eating these is a good way to do it.
This delectable dish features a whopping 23 grams of protein to help to make sure that your muscles are in optimal shape for your next gym session. It features 4 powerful ingredients in total – tofu, greenbeans, broccoli and quinoa, making this a gorgeously healthy meal that you are sure to enjoy. Cook these ingredients on a baking shit and drizzle a little bit of tamari sauce on the top. Once you have done this you just need to put all of the ingredients into 4 separate containers and put whatever extra seasoning you want on top.
If you want to make this a more carnivorous meal, you can add in some chicken, fish or some other form of protein for it to fit your preferences. It’s also only 424 calories so it’s ideal for if you’re following a calorie controlled diet.
There’s nothing quite like a delicious stir fry to keep your day going on the right foot. Featuring flank steak and veggie stir fry, this recipe is full of beefy goodness, while you also get to enjoy your 5 a day!
What’s even better is that once you prep this meal, you can simply put it into a container where it will stay fresh for around 5 days. It contains around 20 grams of protein in total and it’s very low in sugar, so it’s pretty healthy. You can serve it alongside some brown rice if you want some extra calories and carbohydrates.
Tip: To get the most flavor out of steak it’s important to give it a good sear! To help, we have created a in depth guide on the best cookware for high heat cooking.
Take your love of garlic bread into the kitchen and turn it into protein! While this may not be garlic bread, it’s garlic chicken instead which is almost better. This delicious dish incorporates basil, mint and orange marinade so it’s incredibly delicious and will excite your palate to no end. You can even have this with a side salad for extra taste and calories. It can last for a few days in your fridge too before you have to throw it out.
The best part is the sheer amount of protein included in this recipe. A massive 42 grams per serving! That’s certainly one way to get protein into your diet!
Shrimp is a fantastic source of protein, so you’re bound to enjoy this healthy shrimp dish! It’s incredibly easy to prepare and has a high protein content. 29g of protein in total – delicious and nutritious!
The dish is ideal if you like a little bit of spice because you can put it in a sweet and spicy sauce, but you can use whatever you like the best. You can even pair it with some cauliflower rice to get some more vegetables in. Even better is that it’s 345 calories!
20. Teriyaki Chicken
This Japanese style meatball recipe is a real game changer if you want to switch it up in the kitchen. This recipe makes 3 servings in total which is ideal if you want three days worth of meals, or if you want to feed the whole family. If you’re doing that though, you may want to make a little bit more food as it will be too delicious to resist!
The meatballs are made out of chicken along with a bunch of extra seasonings. You are going to need some cauliflower rice but whether you choose to use cauliflower rice or brown rice will depend on personal preference. In total, this recipe includes 595 calories and an impressive 42.2g of protein. Very tasty and perfect for getting in those gains.
What do you get when you combine zesty lemon with some high protein fish? A mouth watering meal that’s great for meal prep. This meal can be made in around 20 minutes, so no need to slave away in the kitchen for hours on end. You will just need a white fish such as halibut or cod.
Make sure that you add your seasoning as you like it. With 24.6g of protein, you are going to love this as a pre workout meal. It’s also only 287 calories so you don’t need to worry about breaking the calorie bank, so to speak!
22. Chicken Parmesan
Did someone say Italian food? Yep! Enjoy this classic dish with a healthy spin by using this recipe. All you need is chicken, almond flour and chickpea flour. It’s incredibly simple to make and it’s low in calories too!
The dish is crazy yummy, and you’ll want to just keep on eating more. It’s very moreish, to say the least. Furthermore, it contains a massive 32.8g of protein in total. This is a dish that you and the whole family are going to love, so you may want to make more meals from it! It can also be refrigerated and kept for a few days so it’s ideal if you want to prep your meals in advance.
This hearty, warm breakfast casserole will keep you full throughout the entire week, no last minute breakfast making required! The recipe includes plenty of protein in the form of sausage and eggs. Not only that, but you’ll be able to get your key micronutrients in with no problem due to the leafy greens, healthy sweet potatoes and the coconut oil also included in the recipe. The best part is that you can just prepare this meal when you have some spare time during the week or the weekend, which means you can take it out with you on the go!
24. Omelet in a Mug
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it’s vital that you make it as healthy as you can to prepare you for the day ahead! This omelet in a mug is a great choice for getting some extra protein into your day, and the best part is that it only takes around 2 minutes to make, so it’s ideal if you’re in a bit of a rush. Omelet is also a pretty versatile recipe, so you can add all sorts of extra ingredients to it as you see fit! You can even prep the eggs the night before, then simply put them in the microwave the next day and you’ve got yourself a delicious and nutritious breakfast!
25. Qdoba Chicken
If you’re a big burrito lover then you are going to love this meal prep recipe. All you need to do is marinade your chicken and you’ll have plenty of meals to last you for the whole week. You can even put the marinated chicken into a sandwich if you want to!
26. Turkey Chilli
When the cold nights hit, there’s nothing better to warm you up than a little bit of chilli! This recipe is made with lean turkey so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a high protein intake. In fact, you can have this scrumptious recipe for dinner one evening, and then enjoy it the very next day so it’s perfect for meal prep!
If you’re a big lover of a fry up but you aren’t quite prepared for the many calories that often come with them, this Sweet Potato and Chorizo Hash is the ideal alternative. All you need to do is prep the ingredients the night before ready to go the next morning or whenever you want to eat it. This recipe is also pretty high in protein so it’s ideal if you’re looking to make some gains in the gym!
This recipe is incredibly simple to prep and should give you meals that will last the week. You aren’t restricted to using beef either, though this recipe is delicious with beef! If there are certain ingredients you don’t like, you can switch them out for an alternative that you will be more fond of. This high protein recipe is sure to make your taste buds tingle and help you to gain some muscle.
There’s nothing quite like a wrap as a mid day snack, but how can you get more veggies in? Simple! Switch out your standard wrap for large lettuce leaves, and put your favorite fillings in for a delicious meal that you are sure to love. You can prep the ingredients the day before and put them in a container, then all you need to do is assemble the ingredients later on. Easy peasy!
30. Pot Pulled Pork
This delicious recipe will melt in your mouth with every bite, and after you try just a little bit we assure you that you are going to want more. You can combine it with other ingredients too so it’s pretty versatile and low calories. It’s also very high in protein!
What Is Protein?
Protein is one of the main macronutrients that you need to be getting into your diet every day, alongside fats and carbohydrates. It is responsible for growing and repairing tissues in the body, and it also does a number of other things such as forming enzymes and hormones.
On a daily basis, the USDA Dietary Guidelines suggest that an adult female should eat 46g of protein a day, whereas males should eat 56g of protein a day. Of course, this is very simplistic and doesn’t account for the fact that people have all sorts of different body weights which means that the requirements for protein are different.
To be more specific, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies suggests that both men and women should have 0.8g of protein per kilogram of weight on your body every day.
As 1 kilogram is equal to around 2.2 pounds, the average 130 pound woman would need roughly 47g of protein.
If you are bodybuilding, or you have a particularly active lifestyle, then you should be eating more protein than this to ensure that your muscles are properly repaired.
Also Read: Best Meal Planner Apps
Which Foods Contain Protein?
Tracking macronutrients such as protein can seem like a bit of a difficult task at first, but you will be pleased to know that it’s actually pretty simple once you know what foods contain protein. You also don’t need to worry if you have specific dietary requirements, as protein is present in both plant and animal sources.
Here are just a few of the foods that contain protein sources:
Eggs are a staple of the Western diet and they contain oodles of protein! Usually a medium egg will contain roughly 6g of protein. As we’ll discuss later, there are a whole bunch of foods that you can make with eggs, such as boiled eggs, an omelet or even protein pancakes!
If you need help on what pans are best for cooking eggs. Check out this best nonstick pan for eggs guide.
Foods that contain dairy are usually fantastic sources of protein. Not only that, but the calcium is great for your bones too. You tend to find that a lot of people will have milkshake after an intense sweat session, as chocolate milk has a nice blend of carbs along with whey and casein proteins.
Yogurts are great for protein, especially for casein and whey protein. It may be a decent option if you are lactose intolerant because some lactose is usually removed but it’s important to check with your healthcare provider first. Greek yogurt is particularly high in protein, as is Icelandic yogurt.
If you aren’t following a vegetarian or vegan diet, fish is a good choice if you’re looking to increase your protein intake. A lot of fish tend to have a low fat content but a high protein content. There are some exceptions to this, as salmon is rather high in fat but also high in protein, but it also has a lot of omega 3 fatty acids which can help you to have healthy joints.
Lean Chicken and Turkey
Poultry is high in protein, but some parts of the bird is higher in fat than others. If you want to maximize on protein but minimize on fat then you will be best suited to the breast of the bird. Chicken is also very versatile and can go into a lot of different recipes too.
Pulses and Beans
If you’re following a primarily vegan or vegetarian diet then pulses and beans are a good choice for protein intake. They also tend to include a lot of iron and fibre, micronutrients that are an important part of a balanced diet.
Nuts and Seeds
If you’re looking for a hearty protein snack but you don’t have time to cook, nuts and seeds can be a great choice. For instance, if you have 50 pistachio nuts you’re looking at around 6g of protein. They also contain potassium and sodium, more important micronutrients. You can also add them to breakfast too or lunchtime snack for some extra flavor.
If you’re also looking to increase your fat content while increasing your protein, eating beef is a good way to do it. The amount of protein can very between 20 to 24g protein per cut depending on what the cut is. If you want to reduce the fat content then look for leaner cuts of meat instead.
If you’re mainly following a vegetarian or vegan diet then tofu is a good way to increase your protein content. It usually has around 12g of protein and can be used in a wide variety of different meals too.
If you looking for more vegetarian meal preps, these 40 vegetarian meal prep recipes will give you a ton of new ideas.
Why Is Protein Important for Muscle Growth and Repair? What are the Other Benefits of Protein?
As we’ve already touched upon, protein is an important macronutrient. But what exactly does it do? Protein is important for so many reasons, but muscle growth and repair is by far the most crucial.
Essentially, protein consists of amino acids. When you are lifting weights and engaging in any exercise that puts strain on your muscles, you begin to make miniscule micro tears in the muscles. The protein then uses its amino acids in order to fix those tears. The amino acids will surround the tear and fill it, which results in the muscle getting larger and stronger as a result. It also means that you can prevent muscle loss when you are exercising, which is essential.
This isn’t the only reason why protein is important, however.
To start with, protein helps to reduce your hunger levels and your appetite. Out of the three macronutrients (protein, fats and carbs), Protein has been shown to be the most filling of the three. The main reason for this is because protein can reduce the levels of a hormone called ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone. Furthermore, it also helps to boost the amount of peptide YY in the body, and this hormone is there to make you feel full.
As you may imagine, this often means that if you have a higher protein intakes the chances are that you will consume less calories because you’ll be full. This can be incredibly beneficial for weight loss. It’s also great for weight maintenance for a similar reason.
Protein can also be great for your bone health. Some studies have suffested that people who consume more protein will maintain bone mass better while they age and this means that the chances of bone issues such as fractures and osteoporosis is lower.
Protein can even help to temporarily increase metabolism. This comes down to something known as the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) TEF is essentially where you burn calories from digesting and eating. Protein has a much more significant thermic effect than fats or carbs do. Some studies have suggested that because of this you can burn more calories by having a higher protein intake.
What are the Benefits of Meal Prepping?
Sure, you may be killing it in the gym, but health gains often begin in the kitchen! You could be lifting 40 times a week but if you’re countering that hard work by going to Wendy’s every day then the chances are that you may not see as many gains as you hopes for. This could be because your protein intake isn’t high enough, or it could be because you are massively overeating.
Unfortunately, cooking can take time which can be pretty frustrating and intimidating. When you’re working 9 to 5 every day, the last thing you want to do is waste some of your precious free time chopping onions and preparing legumes every day.
If this sounds like a common frustration you experience, then it may be time to start meal prepping.
There are a whole bunch of reasons why meal prepping is a good idea. Here are just a few.
One common misconception is that healthy eating and cooking everyday is just too expensive. Well, we’re here to bust that myth! Meal prepping can actually save you quite a bit of a cash.
This is because you will be able to buy items in bulk and use some of that freezer space for some good. If you cook large volumes of food, you can often freeze it and put it aside for another day.
For instance, buy a larger amount of chicken and whip up one big meal, setting it aside in the freezer once it’s done. You can freeze most things, and in the long run it will cost you far less money than spending $5 on a McDonalds every single evening.
It’s also ideal if you’re the family cook and you’re cooking for large amounts of people. Takeaways for the whole family every single day just isn’t cheap!
If you find that there just aren’t enough hours in the day, you may be thinking that meal prepping is just too much precious time gone out of your day. As it turns out, meal prepping is perfect if you need to multitask.
You can be cooking your dinner, and while it’s in the oven or on the stove you can prep lunch at the same time. This can be a massive time saver that we’re sure you’ll thank yourself for. You can even cook multiple different things at the same time, and while things are cooking you may even be able to get some chores done around the house such as washing the dishes or hanging out the laundry.
If you’re carefully monitoring your calories for your muscle gain or weight control goals, meal prepping can be a massive asset in learning portion control. Whenever you’re trying to gain your muscles, it’s important to consider calories in and calories out. When you are already preparing your meals before you eat them you are keeping track of the things that you are consuming which makes it a lot easier to track. It also means that you aren’t eating larger portions than absolutely necessary like you would if you were eating at a restaurant or a fast food outlet.
If you’re trying to encourage muscle gain or lose weight, you’ll know how much it can throw you off track not having any food prepared. You may get lazy and thinks that it’s fine to get that huge sandwich from the local shop at lunch time, when in reality that massive sandwich contains around 300 calories more than you should be consuming for your calories for the day.
You avoid this situation when you meal prep. You know you have food prepared so you save yourself unwanted calorie expenditure just from sheer organization.
You may be caught in a situation where you feel hungry all of a sudden. Thankfully if you meal prep, you have something on hand to eat so you aren’t tempted to buy something from somewhere that’s not really that healthy. You will always have options on hand to keep you feeling satiated because you’ve prepared in advance.
It’s very easy to get into a habit of eating the same thing every single day. When you meal prep you can prepare all sorts of different meals when you have the time, allowing you to experiment with new dishes. You can switch it up every week if you wish, and look up different recipes online or in a recipe book.
Need more information about meal prep? Read this how to meal prep for beginners.
What Will I Need to Meal Prep?
There are a number of key things that you are going to need to have in your kitchen in order to make meal prepping a success. Here are just a few!
Containers are perhaps the most important thing to have when it comes to meal prepping. There are a bunch of different types of containers too depending on what exactly you need.
The first type of container is an airtight container that you will use for ingredients that are ready to cook. These containers are essentially bags and stainless steel containers that can be washed and reused, making them perfect for when you need to keep your ingredients nice and fresh. This may be best for ingredients such as chopped vegetables.
Then you have BPA free microwavable containers. If you’ve made food that’s going to need to be microwaved then this is certainly the most healthy option for you. You can also look into pyrex glassware or collapsible silicone containers for this.
Another type of container is a freezer safe container. As you can probably imagine, these are best for foods that will need to be frozen and defrosted. These containers are designed to reduce freezer burn and reduce the amount of nutrients lost in the freezing process. You can usually opt for wide mouth mason jars for this, but it’s important to make sure there’s some headspace left so that the food is able to expand while it is freezing.
Finally you have leak proof containers or containers that are compartmentalized. If you are meal prepping a lunch with numerous ingredients that need to be mixed at the very final moment then this is a good choice for you. You can opt for a bento lunch box that will do this well.
Having the right container is important, and should be based on the space that you have and where the container is able to be kept. For instance, you don’t want to keep a non freezable container in a freezer.
Are you looking for some good quality containers? If so, check out our favorite glass containers for meal prep.
Meal prep doesn’t just happen in the kitchen, you know! Often meal prepping starts with – well – planning! A meal planner can be very helpful for this. If you have a plan to begin with then it’s most likely to succeed. You can buy a bunch of great meal planners online through retailers such as Amazon.
A Handheld Blender
Trust us on this – if you’re making soups or other blendable hot goods, then having a handheld blender is massively beneficial as you won’t need to transfer your piping hot goods from the pot to the blender.
A Weighing Scale
A kitchen scale is very beneficial when it comes to meal preparation. Guessing the amounts of certain foods isn’t the best idea when you’re preparing meals. Not to mention, if you’re trying to accurately track your protein you won’t be able to do that if you don’t know how much of a certain food that you’ve put into your dish.
As we’ve discussed in this article, having plenty of protein as part of your diet is essential for so many things, but if you’re looking to gain muscle it’s even more important that you keep your protein intake in check. If you’re struggling with doing this, you could use a fitness tracker such as MyFitnessPal to keep track of your macronutrients, including protein. With the right training regime and enough protein, you’ll be seeing those muscle and strength gains in no time.
Richmond Howard started Meal Prepify in 2019 and has helped over a million people learn how to meal prep, get better at meal planning, and create a kitchen they love to use. He’s an avid home chef and loves to bbq, grill out, and make awesome food for family and friends. He’s been featured on MSN, Renaissance Periodization, and Good Financial Cents.