Nutritionists will tell you that if you want to stay healthy (and/or lose weight), including protein in every meal is important. This is because protein makes you feel fuller, which makes you feel more satisfied after a meal and less likely to overeat or snack between meals.
Some people are good at meal planning, always using the right ingredients to prepare a quick and healthy lunch. But when the day gets busy, some people suddenly look up at 2pm, realize they’re hungry, and reach for the most convenient option (we’re waiting for you, PB&J!). If you think the latter applies to you, finding an easy-to-make, high-protein lunch recipe is essential.
How High-Protein Lunches Keep You Satiety
Whether you are consuming protein for weight loss or not, this nutrient has many benefits and functions for your body. Among them, as we mentioned earlier, is the ability to help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Protein can suppress appetite: A meal high in protein has been shown to help reduce the need and amount of snacking that occurs after a high-protein meal.
slow digestion: Protein takes longer to digest than refined carbohydrates. This means your body can use protein for energy longer.
Protein regulates hunger hormones: Eating protein helps lower the body’s levels of ghrelin, a hormone that causes hunger.
As you can see, eating a high-protein lunch keeps you feeling full until dinnertime, helping you avoid the frustrating cravings that sometimes occur when you’re slump at work that afternoon. Ahead, you’ll see some of your favorite original recipes, along with meal ideas that you can customize to your tastes by combining nutritionist-approved ingredients. Read on to get inspired by 15 of the best high-protein lunch ideas for each day of the week.
protein punch: 21 grams
material: Whole grain bread, turkey, cucumber, tomato, bacon, romaine lettuce, low-fat ranch dressing.
When you think of “protein,” you might think you need meaty dishes to fill your plate with this important nutrient. The good news is that if you’re in the mood for a light, refreshing, and hearty salad for lunch, this Turkey BLT Salad has about 21 grams. This is a twist on the classic sandwich, but with more vegetables.
Check out our Turkey BLT Salad recipe.
protein punch: 32 grams
material: Fresh tuna, wasabi, scallions, ginger, olive oil mayonnaise, low-salt soy sauce, whole grain bread (like Dave’s Killer Bread).
Tuna is one of the most protein-rich fish in the world, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be eaten straight from the can. If you can get fresh tuna at the supermarket, you can make these simple, high-protein tuna burgers for lunch and top them with delicious wasabi mayonnaise. Is there another benefit besides increased protein? You can even make a few at a time and enjoy them for days.
Check out our Tuna Burger recipe.
protein punch: 24 grams
material: Cooked Farro, Black Beans, Bell Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, Spinach, Salsa, Mozzarella, Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Making different types of grain bowls is great for high-protein lunches, especially if you try a black bean bowl with farro. Dr. Lisa Young, RDN.
“Both black beans and farro are high in protein, the combination of ingredients creates texture and taste, and they are also rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals,” says Young. “Cheese is a complete source of protein and contributes even more to muscle growth and repair. Bowls can also be customized to your liking and additional ingredients can be added to increase your protein intake.” .”
protein punch: 24 grams
material: Flank steak, cheese, pinto beans, tortilla chips, salsa verde, jalapeno, red onion, tomato.
Nachos don’t necessarily have to be unhealthy calorie bombs, but they always have to be delicious. This steak nachos recipe gives you about 24 grams of protein and only 360 calories. The only downside is that you’ll be getting about 6 grams of saturated fat from cheese and steak, so be sure to monitor your saturated fat intake for the rest of the day.
Check out our recipe for steak nachos.
protein punch: 28 grams
material: Salmon, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potato, salt, pepper, olive oil.
Like tuna, salmon is a nutrient-dense fish that makes for a satisfying, high-protein lunch menu.
“Salmon is a great source of protein because it’s packed with essential amino acids and also has omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and potassium,” says Young. She also suggests adding roasted vegetables. They “provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber while adding flavor and color to your dishes.”
protein punch: 26 grams
material: Minced chicken, arugula, olive oil mayonnaise, dried tomatoes, whole grain buns.
If you want a hamburger but don’t like the saturated fat in red meat, try a chicken burger instead. With homemade sun-dried tomato aioli, this recipe is best served on lettuce if you’re looking to cut down on carbs. Also Dave’s Killer Bread.
Check out our chicken burger recipe.
protein punch: 36 grams
material: Chicken breast, asparagus, carrot, broccoli, olive oil, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, wild rice.
Chicken stir fry is one of the easiest meals you can make in minutes, and it’s flexible and customizable to your liking. Young suggests adding things like asparagus, carrots and broccoli to stir-fries and topping them with rice.
“Chicken breast is a good source of protein because it is lean, high in protein and low in fat,” she says. “It’s also a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids our bodies need to build and repair tissue.”
When choosing rice, Young added, “Choose wild rice, which is rich in protein and fiber compared to white rice.”
protein punch: 16 grams
material: Ham, spicy salami, provolone cheese, sourdough bread, arugula, red pepper, olive oil.
Sandwiches are great for a quick lunchtime meal. If you have a little time to make paninis, this provolone panini recipe will give you a boost of protein. The protein count is a little lower than other meals on the list, but it still provides more of this important nutrient than many other types of sandwiches.
Check out our Provolone Panini recipe.
protein punch: 31 grams
material: Kale, shredded chicken, apples, quinoa, sweet potatoes, walnuts, Dijon vinaigrette.
If you thought you couldn’t pack more than 30 grams of protein into one salad, think again. This kale and quinoa salad is loaded with protein-rich ingredients like chicken, quinoa, and sweet potatoes, so one serving will help you stay full for the rest of the job.
Check out our Kale and Quinoa Salad recipe.
protein punch: 40 grams
material: Quinoa, shredded chicken, black beans.
Quinoa bowls are similar to farro bowls in that they use healthy whole grains as a base, and you can add your favorite ingredients.according to Tristavest, MPH, RD, LD, Quinoa bowls are the perfect high-protein lunch at Balance One Supplements.
“Quinoa is a complete protein source that contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs, providing approximately 8 grams of protein per cooked cup, making it an excellent plant-based protein option.” says Best. “Combined with other protein-rich foods such as beans, tofu and lean meats, quinoa bowls make for a healthy meal that supports muscle repair, satiety and overall nutritional balance.”
protein punch: 20 grams
material: Quinoa, salmon, parsley, raisins, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, pine nuts.
This Moroccan-inspired dish is just another way to flavorfully combine two healthy, high-protein foods: salmon and quinoa. For added flavor and nutrition, this recipe also includes spices such as parsley, raisins, pine nuts, cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne.
Check out our recipes for quinoa pilaf and salmon.
protein punch: 18 grams
material: Add your favorite ingredients such as lentils and kale, collard greens, sweet potatoes.
For those who want a high-protein lunch that can be prepared on Sunday and enjoyed for the rest of the week, Best recommends lentil soup.
“Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein and provide a significant amount in one serving. In addition to their protein content, lentils are a good source of dietary fiber that aids digestion and promotes satiety. It’s also the source,” says Best. “Various vegetables in soups add essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to add nutritional value to your diet.” If you can choose vegetables high in fiber, even better.
protein punch: 16 grams of protein
material: Ham hock, tomato, black beans, Greek yogurt, red pepper, cumin, orange juice.
This Cuban Tomato and Black Bean Soup recipe uses protein-rich ingredients like ham hocks, beans, and Greek yogurt, with additional items like tomatoes, peppers, orange juice, and cumin for even more flavor. For extra spice, top this soup with fresh or pickled jalapenos.
Check out our recipe for Cuban Tomato and Black Bean Soup.
protein punch: 29 grams
material: Chicken breast, cauliflower rice, onions, coriander, tomatoes, jalapenos, coconut milk, curry powder.
Get 30 grams of protein and less than 400 calories with this super-simple tomato curry dish. Paleo-friendly for those on a Paleo diet, this high-protein dish provides a filling 10 grams of fiber with minimal carbs.
Check out our recipe for chicken tomato curry.
protein punch: 30 grams
material: Sliced deli turkey, lettuce, tomato, whole grain wraps (like Angelic Bakehouse).
Probably one of the easiest lunches to make together, we recommend making a turkey wrap when you want to get your protein on and keep you full until dinnertime.
“Turkey wraps are a great choice for a high-protein lunch, mainly thanks to the lean protein that turkey provides. It’s an ideal lean meat to grow with,” says Best. “Whole wheat tortilla wraps add complex carbohydrates and fiber to help sustain energy release and promote satiety.” It’s loaded with antioxidants for even more nutritional value,” he adds.