Protein helps to build and repair lean muscle mass, but from a digestion standpoint, it helps get you full faster and stay full longer, making it necessary to include it at every meal. So, what does that look like on your plate at mealtime? Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Sports Dietitian and author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook says, “The goal is to include 20 to 30 grams of high-quality protein (meaning it contains all the essential amino acids) at your main meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” To put it practically, that means eating about 3 to 4 ounces of protein per meal or making about one-fourth to one-third of your plate protein. “Then based on your overall protein needs, you can fill in the gaps at snack time by adding foods like string cheese, beef jerky, hard-boiled eggs, or yogurt,” Goodson explains.
If you are looking to build muscle, Goodson says that your goal should be to maximize muscle protein synthesis in the post-workout window. “This means you should be consuming 15 to 25 grams of high-quality protein (with 3 to 4 grams of that coming from leucine, a branched-chain amino acid necessary for muscle protein synthesis) as soon as possible post-exercise, and ideally within the first 45 minutes.” Quick-digesting protein paired with simple carbohydrates is best. That would be a ready-to-drink post-work-out shake, a smoothie made with cow’s milk, Greek yogurt topped with fruit, or low-fat chocolate milk. Goodson says that you should then follow up that snack with a complete meal containing 20 to 30 grams of protein from foods like lean beef, pork, poultry, or eggs. If you consume more plant-based protein, be sure you are eating a protein combination that is high in leucine.
All the 25 recipes below provide at least 15 grams of protein – many are much higher. If the recipe is only for the protein portion of the meal, then there are recommendations on what to add to complete your plate (usually a whole grain and some veggies). Choose your favorite ones and work your way down the list! Read on, and for more, don’t miss 50 Healthy Dinner Recipes That Take 30 Minutes (or Less!).
Get the recipe from Toby Amidor Nutrition.
These Air Fryer Turkey Burgers are made with 39 grams of lean protein and are a quick and easy alternative to regular beef burgers. They’re made without breadcrumbs for a low-carb dinner that’s ready in less than 20 minutes.
Get the recipe from Everyday Homemade.
Lentils are one of my favorite plant-based proteins because 9 grams of protein in just half-cup cooked. They are full of fiber, which makes them filling, and they have other important nutrients, like iron and folate. Not to mention that a serving of lentils is extremely affordable—close to just $0.10 per quarter-cup serving.
Get the recipe from Greenletes.
Lean beef is a nutrient-rich source of high-quality protein. A 3-ounce serving of cooked lean beef provides 10 essential nutrients including B-vitamins, zinc, and iron that support an active and healthy lifestyle.
Get the recipe from Farmer’s Daughter Consulting and Cooking à la Heart: 500 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Help Make Every Meal Heart Healthy.
Shrimp is a low-fat source of protein and this recipe satisfies one of the two suggested seafood meals weekly. It contains choline, which is necessary for brain and liver health, and is a source of omega-3 fats that are good for your heart and your brain.
Get the recipe from Better is the New Perfect.